Being a true full-size SUV, the Yukon is very roomy inside, and will be even more roomy if you go with the Yukon XL option.
Most Yukons seat 8 comfortably (2 up front, 3 each in the back two rows). There is also a 9-person setup offered with a bench seat up front. Lastly, there is a 7-seat setup with bucket seats in middle. So you have options. The third row is a bit cramped, though, and not really meant for adults. Keep the kids back there with the lack of legroom.
While it’s not quite at Escalade status, the Yukon is essentially a luxury ride these days, particularly if you choose the Denali trim. You’ll get high-quality materials throughout the vehicle, which features a well-designed cockpit and strong tech features as well as truly comfortable seating.
The external design of the Yukon features an intimidating look. This behemoth has still got the GMC swagger that draws people in, big and bold and unapologetic. The Denali trim line will make it even more appealing if you’re willing to pay for the upgrade (and more than half of Yukon buyers do so).
The Yukon features halogen projector headlamps; LED daytime running lights; Power heated outside mirror with turn signal; and 18-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.
It’s a bit high up, which may be tough for the shorter folks, but assist steps can help provide better entry and exit experiences.
The inside of the Yukon offers many features, including: Bose premium audio system, tri-zone automatic heating and air, keyless start, heated steering wheel, well-placed and easy-to-use controls on the steering wheel, perforated leather appointed front seats that are heated and vented. And you can save memory settings for driver seat, outside mirrors and the steering wheel.
The second-row bench seat folds down manually for increased storage space, and the third row folds down via power controls. There is a massive amount of storage space when both rows are down. With seats up, you have 15.3 cubic feet of storage space. With second and third rows down that grows to 94.7 cubic feet of space.
There are also customized upgrades you get get, like the Graphic Performance edition that was tacked on to my tester for about $8K. This package featured: Trailer brake controller, high capacity air cleaner; the upgraded 6.2-liter V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission; active noise cancellation; 2-speed transfer case; all-season blackwall tires; 22-inch 6-spoke black wheels; head-up display; magnetic ride control suspension package, and more.
The biggest challenge with a vehicle this large is access to tight spaces. For example, when parking in a busy lot, you’ll likely need to park far away due to its massive size and inability to squeeze into many spaces.
Also, it is worth mentioning that the Expedition did undergo a redesign more recently than the Yukon.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
Two engines are offered in the 2019 Yukon. Base engine is a 5.3-liter, V8 offering paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It features 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. This is standard on the SLE and SLT models.
Standard on Denali-trim Yukons is a 6.2-liter V8 that offers 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque; and is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
General consensus is the 6.2-liter V8 is the way to go, since fuel mileage is not much different than the base engine and it operates much more smoothly and effectively. With both engines, you will get a quiet ride with the interior well-insulated from road noise.
Overall, the Yukon moves well for a vehicle this large. But don’t expect miracles. It’s still over 5,000 pounds so you’re not going to be darting through traffic with swiftness. On the plus side, the braking ability of the Yukon was impressive.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Yukon but my tester had the optional 4WD. WIth the 4WD setup, which I would recommend, the vehicle senses when additional traction is needed.
Towing is also competitive, with ability to pull from 6,300 to a max of 8,500 pounds.
GM does its homework in the tech department, nearly across the board, and the Yukon is no exception.
The GMC infotainment system with 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen is set up with the user in mind. Voice commands work well, and the touchscreen is easy to use and responsive.
All Yukons are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, you get Bluetooth audio streaming, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is offered. A rear seat entertainment system is also offered to keep the kids occupied on longer trips.
It’s no slouch on the safety features either. You can’t be if you want to compete in this category.
The Yukon offers: Front and Rear Park Assist, air bags all around; Forward Collision alert, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning; Rear Vision Camera; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Stability Control; Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Low-speed Forward Automatic Braking.
There is a four-star overall safety rating, including many individual five-star ratings. The only weak spot was rollover rating at three stars.
You’re not going to be saving much gas in a vehicle this large and powerful, but the numbers are not terrible. Official numbers on the 4WD version are 14 city/22 highway/17 combined. The downside is that its chief non-GM rival, the Ford Expedition, beats the Yukon in fuel mileage (though it’s also less powerful).
The 2019 GMC Yukon SLT that I tested was just over $73K; base price starts just under $50K. The three trim levels offered are SLE, SLT and the popular, upscale Denali trim.
You get a 5-year, 60K powertrain limited warranty on the Yukon.
While they’re not as big a segment as they once were, full-size body-on-frame SUVs still have a lot to offer. And in that group, the Yukon is a big, versatile and powerful SUV that remains one of the best in the business.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.