Car-based crossovers and pickup trucks may satisfy the needs of most utility vehicle shoppers. Still, there remains a market for a just-right combination of interior comfort and truck-like capability, and the responsibility for filling that niche falls to trucks like the GMC Yukon.
The GMC Yukon XL you're reading about here is the largest expression of GMC's commitment to that cause; the smaller, standard-grade Yukon is covered in its own buyer's guide entry.
The Yukon's most notable changes for 2018 apply to the upscale Denali model, which gets a new sculpted chrome grille and a new satin steel metallic paint colour, while the interior gains a new mastique ash wood trim. Technical updates include a 10-speed automatic transmission (replacing last year's eight-speed) and a tire fill alert function for the tire pressure monitoring system.
Standard grade trims carry over unchanged save for some new paint options.
Engine options start with a 5.3L V8 good for 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, which goes to a six-speed automatic and your choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Denali models get a 6.2L V8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft and is matched with that new 10-speed and standard all-wheel drive.
The Yukon's main competition comes from Ford's Expedition, but it also goes up against GM sister brand Chevrolet's Suburban, which differs only in styling and small trim distinctions. With the high-end Denali, GMC seeks to compete with the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, Audi Q7 and Land Rover Range Rover.
Entry-level SLE trim gets a locking rear differential, 18-inch wheels, trailer hitch and trailer wiring, fog lights, rain-sensing front wipers, heated side mirrors, 4.2-inch driver information centre, eight-inch IntelliLink infotainment screen, leather-trimmed steering wheel with manual tilt steering column, 110-volt power outlet, remote engine start, cloth seats, satellite radio, three-zone automatic climate control, front and rear park assist, Bose premium stereo and a backup camera.
Move up to SLT trim and GMC adds passive keyless entry with push-button engine start, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, safety alert driver's seat, wireless smartphone charging, power liftgate, power-folding side mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, front bucket seats, heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, heated and cooled front seats, power release second-row seats, power-folding third row, garage door opener, power tilt-and-telescopic steering and rear cross traffic alert.
Denali distinguishes itself with a heavy-duty trailering package, integrated trailer brake controller, transmission oil cooler, magnetic ride control suspension, 20-inch wheels, HID headlights, eight-inch customizable driver information display and active noise cancellation.
GMC's fuel consumption estimates are 15.1/10.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the 5.3L engine and RWD, and 15.2/10.8 with 4WD. The Denali's new 10-speed brings highway fuel consumption down a bit, to 10.7 L/100 km, but the city rating actually goes up 0.4 L/100 km to 16.4.
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