Updated powertrains, new fold-flat rear seats, and a sharper, trimmer look make the 2015 GMC Yukon the most impressive Yukon yet, building on the core of the new Sierra 1500 but diverging from the pickup more than ever before as well.
The Yukon family of SUVs-Yukon, long-wheelbase Yukon XL, and luxurious Yukon Denali-adopt many of the changes applied to the Sierra, though GMC points out that the related SUVs don’t share any body panels with the new full-size trucks.
The Yukon and Yukon XL are also related to the 2015 Chevy Tahoe and 2015 Suburban, sharing powertrains and much of the internal structure between the family of SUVs.
Available in two body styles as before, the Yukon rides on two wheelbases: the standard version’s wheelbase is 116 inches, while the Yukon XL’s is 130 inches. Both are identical to the outgoing 2014 models, though overall length has grown by almost two inches. The styling is still traditional, but despite the very angular look, GMC says it’s much more aerodynamically favorable than on the outgoing utes. Most models have projector-beam headlamps; Denali models have a distinctive grille and high-intensity discharge headlamps.
The cabin is covered in soft-touch materials; ambient lighting is available. Compared to the previous-generation Yukon, materials and design have been updated throughout the cabin, making for a much more luxurious experience, particularly in Denali-trim examples.
Powertrains are shared with the full-size Sierra pickup as well as the other GM SUVs. There’s no V-6 on the Yukon’s spec sheet-and the former Hybrid edition isn’t present, either. The standard engine is the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the Sierra; in the Yukon, it’s rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine will be GM’s new 6.2-liter V-8, with 420 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Both powerplants will be teamed with a six-speed automatic, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. In our time behind the wheel of the 2015 Yukon, the new V-8s are impressive, delivering strong acceleration and balanced gas mileage thanks to a pair of technologies new to the Yukon: direct injection and cylinder-deactivation technology. The new technology yields EPA gas mileage ratings as high as 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined.
For better performance, the Yukon’s frame is now composed primarily of high-strength steel, for better crash safety and structural rigidity. It’s still a live-axle, leaf-spring design, but the rear track has been widened. A locking rear differential is standard. The Yukon also now has electric power steering, like the Sierra, and Denali models get a set of magnetically-controlled shocks. Maximum towing is rated at 8,500 pounds.
The Yukon’s interior remake shares its sleeker look with the Sierra, but it’s distinguished by a new flat-folding arrangement for the second- and third-row seats, with optional power assistance. Legroom is also improved in the second row. Interior storage is upgraded: the center console is large enough to store a notebook computer. Noise damping has been a special focus; the doors are mounted for less wind rustle, and the windshield and front glass are laminated for less sound intrusion. Ride quality is very good, and cabin quietness is remarkable.
The third-row seating has been improved, though only in long-wheelbase Yukon XL models is it suitable for medium-sized adults; otherwise, it’s best reserved for children. An available power-folding system for the second and third rows makes cargo-area access much easier; the seats can be laid down (or, in the case of the third row, raised back into seating position) by the press of a few buttons in the rear hatch area.
The Yukon merits some of GM’s newest safety technology. Along with the usual airbags and stability control, the Yukon also gets a front-center airbags when it’s equipped with front bucket seats. Adaptive cruise control is an option, as are a lane-departure warning system with seat-mounted haptic alerts, blind-spot monitors, forward collision alerts, and front parking sensors.
Among the new and returning features on the Yukon utes are Bose audio; keyless entry; pushbutton start; an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen interface; a head-up display; a power tailgate; a cargo-management system; and up to five USB ports located on the center console. A Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system will also be an option, as will wheels sized up to 22 inches.
Priced to start from $46,335, the 2015 GMC Yukon is on sale now.