The GMC Yukon has been completely overhauled for 2021 but there is far more to this redesign than just updated styling addressing nearly all of the outgoing model’s shortcomings. This new one has more interior space and comfort plus better dynamics and refinement giving customers more of what they want the Yukon is not just better, it’s bigger too.
The new model’s wheelbase has grown by nearly five inches and its overall length is up by more than six now the super chunky Yukon XL has also bulked up but its gains are less significant. These increases have dramatically improved passenger and cargo space in the standard-length Yukon. There’s a whopping 66 percent more room behind the third-row seat and with everything folded flat, there is just shy of 123 cubic feet of junk hauling space. An increase of more than 28 which is huge but it’s not just distended dimensions that made the Yukon more capacious.
Engineers finally got around to stuffing an independent rear suspension underneath this body-on-frame SUV as for the rest of this vehicle’s chassis coil springs with passive dampers support lower-tier models but magnitude shocks are also offered with coil springs.
The top shelf arrangement however features four-corner air bladders and magneride. We tested a fancy Denali model and aside from extra standard equipment and an updated interior unique styling helps separate these from lesser Yukons and of course that includes this unmistakable grill supposedly it has more than 10 individual reflective surfaces.
The Denali drove through a giant plume of glitter you are not going to miss this thing in your rearview mirror behind that big bold grille three different engines will be offered in the new Yukon, a 355 horsepower 5.3 liter v8 serves base duty but a 6.2-liter unit is available or standard in Denali models it is smooth running and very potent getting you 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque both of those gasoline engines are available right now but before the end of this year that excellent 3-liter Duramax inline-6 diesel will be available in the Yukon and it could be a game-changer in a full-size Suv like this.
That engine they use in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra is nice but no matter the engine you choose in this vehicle they’re all matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Interior quality is another sore spot with GMC’s outgoing full-size SUVs they just aren’t that nice but we are happy to report these Denali digs are way better and it feels like it’s worth the asking price in here.
There are loads of nice looking materials and attractive overall design and high-quality switches and knobs except for the windshield wipers slash turn signal stock which feels as rubbery as overcooked chicken further setting Denali models apart from lesser Yukons is a unique dashboard design and we are not just talking about color and trim here the overall layout is unique plus they’ve got a more integrated infotainment screen opposed to one that’s sort of freestanding in other Yukon models but no matter the variant you get they all measure 10.2 inches.
This vehicle’s leather is soft and premium plus we love the sort of cross stitch pattern they use it adds a unique look. There’s also another kind of cowhide they’ve got here with a much coarser texture and at first kind of thought it looked like elephant skin a little bit cheap but we’ve got to say they use it sparingly and it adds a nice bit of contrast compared to some of the other surfaces in here.
On the dashboard here you’ll probably notice the electronic shifter which at first looks kind of funny but we gotta say it’s very intuitive and it quickly becomes second nature to use navigation is included on the Denali model here but you can get it optionally on lower-trim versions of the Yukon though of course apple car play and android auto are both standards across the range.
This infotainment system is an absolute winner not only is it laid out and very finger-friendly with large icons, but it’s also super responsive. This thing just absolutely flies so GMC has done a very good job with this now we’ve also got a 15-inch color head-up display in Yukon which is super handy and very easy to adjust with a few buttons right to the left of the steering wheel because of the tall dashboard it feels like you’re sitting deep in this vehicle but visibility isn’t too compromised and of course, you can just lift the driver’s seat just a little bit.
Now one very clever feature is this power sliding center console we love this once you move it back it leaves you a large space to put either a big purse or maybe even some carryout food so now you don’t have to worry about your wonton soup spilling everywhere when you’re taking those corners these front seats are also super comfortable long haul cushy and so are the chairs in the back. This isn’t something we’d like to do in last year’s Yukon with their live rear axles GMC’s outgoing full-size SUVs have incredibly cramped third-row seats but this one here is all-day comfortable even for adults or adult-sized children with plenty of leg and headroom.
Now, these second-row chairs are also very comfortable, plenty of adjustable options, and with a lower cushion that’s about a chair height above the floor so overall these accommodations are a major win for passenger comfort.
This new Yukon’s performance is excellent that 6.2 liter v8 is super smooth and plenty potent though we do wish it had a bit of exhaust rumble because it sounds like well pretty much nothing see it’s way too quiet. This SUV’s 10-speed transmission is delightful as well it shifts smartly and seamlessly just about every time but it’s kind of funny because with so many gears to choose from it almost feels like a CVT because the rev drop with each upshift is so small according to the EPA.
This Yukon Denali should return 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on highway drives pretty frightening numbers combined. It is rated at 16 mpg fortunately though in the real world mixed driving we’ve managed to average right around 18 mpg which isn’t too terrible as for handling. It’s fine we mean being the size of a navy destroyer and weighing more than 5800 pounds in four-wheel drive.
Denali trims you can expect this thing to handle like a Subaru BRZ now it is certainly big and heavy but on the plus-size, we should say on the plus side it doesn’t feel as enormous.
A plethora of adjustable camera angles, parking sensors, and a rear-view camera mirror all help make it just a little bit easier to dock this vessel when it’s time to alight the Yukon Denali’s on-road performance is pretty admirable except for one thing ride quality despite that new independent rear suspension, four corner airbags, and magnetic dampers.
This vehicle still feels a little bit too stiff and plodding and we blame those 22-inch wheels which are gigantic and probably weigh a figurative ton going over bumps you still get some of that body on frame jiggliness but fortunately, there are no more of those live axle shimmies that send the back end shaken from side to side.
The rear here remains as planted as a fully grown oak tree even when you’re driving over washboard surfaces the Yukon comes with plenty of advanced drivers aids things like automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams are all standard but curiously even on Denali models things like that rearview camera mirror and adaptive cruise control are optional shouldn’t they be included at the price.
GMC is charging!
So how much do they want for a 2021 Yukon well a base rear-wheel-drive SLE model starts at about 52 grand which is pretty reasonable but this Denali model here rolled off the assembly line in Arlington texas with a sticker price of 83420$.
Including 12.95 in destination fees and that is nearly as much as a lower-end Lincoln navigator or Mercedes-Benz GLS with loads of additional interior room, greater refinement, and more tech.
This Yukon Denali is nicer than ever and we’ve got to say it feels like it’s worth the price now so if you’ve got suitably deep pockets and you like what you see here head on over to your local GMC Dealership.
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