When they go on sale this summer, the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL will be hard to beat. The new GMC Yukon borrows mechanicals from the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, but goes its own way with unique looks and a few novel features. Three engines will be offered, two gasoline V-8s and a turbo-diesel inline-six, all mated to a 10-speed automatic that’s operated via GMC’s signature push-button gear selector. The cabin is roomier and better equipped than last year’s model and cargo space has increased as well all the better for family vacations, trips to Home Depot, and tailgating parties.
An all-new Yukon bows for 2021 and it rides on a new platform shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, but wearing distinct styling. As with the Chevys, the 2021 GMC Yukon will come with an independent rear suspension, a first for the large GM SUVs.
> SLE: $ 51,995
> SLT: $ 59,095
> AT4: $ 66,096
> Denali: $ 69,695
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Available in a variety of flavors — from base SLE spec to luxurious Denali — the Yukon and long-wheelbase Yukon XL promise seating for up to eight passengers, although ordering the popular second-row captain’s chairs will lower the total seating capacity to seven. Top-of-the-line Denali models offer a unique interior design with a wood-trimmed dashboard and hand-stitched leather upholstery. A novel power-sliding center console is available in SLT, AT4, and Denali models and allows the driver to motor the center console back and forth over a 10-inch track to make room for bulkier first-row cargo such as a purse or backpack and stash other smaller items out of sight in hidden cubbies. Cargo capacity is generous, especially in the larger XL model, which offers a whopping 145 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with all of its seats stowed. That’s more than its cross-town rival, the Ford Expedition Max (which has 121.5 cubic feet behind its front row of seats). When we get a new Yukon for testing, we’ll stuff it full of our carry-on suitcases to see how many it can fit.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Yukon models come with a large infotainment display with GMC’s latest IntelliLink interface. We’ve found the system easy to use on other models but haven’t tested it in the new Yukon. SLE, SLT, and AT4 models feature a display that stands tall in the center of the dashboard, but the Denali’s is surrounded by bright chrome and is embedded in the dashboard for a more sophisticated look. Apple CarPlay / Android Auto integration, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot will all be standard equipment; navigation and a Bose audio system will be both be optional features.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Similar to the last-generation Yukon, two V-8 engines will be offered: a 355-hp 5.3-liter and a 420-hp 6.2-liter. In addition to those gasoline-burning engines, GMC will also offer a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six that makes a whopping 460 lb-ft of torque and should be the choice for buyers who intend to tow heavy items. All models come with a 10-speed automatic transmission operated by a push-button panel on the dashboard and will offer either rear- or all-wheel drive. An off-road-oriented AT4 model joins the lineup for the first time in 2021 and features a two-speed transfer case, 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, and an optional air suspension capable of offering up to two more inches of ground clearance.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA hasn’t released fuel-economy estimates for the 2021 GMC Yukon; since the SUV was only recently unveiled, we haven’t had a chance to put it through our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, either. We’ll update this story with more details once they become available.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have released crash-test results for the 2021 GMC Yukon or Yukon XL. GMC claims that driver-assistance features will be offered on more models and some will be standard equipment. Key safety features include: Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning. Available blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
GMC offers a warranty that’s competitive with other rivals in the full-size SUV class but doesn’t stand out in any meaningful way. The first maintenance visit is provided free of charge, but the Toyota Sequoia offers maintenance for a full two years or 25,000 miles. Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles. Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles. Complimentary maintenance covers one visit in the first year.