GMC’s Yukon XL is a family hauler

07/25/2014 7:00 PM

07/25/2014 11:47 AM

My daughter-in-law took one look at the 2015 Yukon XL and described it as a family truckster. With room for seven, two video screens and a cargo space big enough for a week’s worth of luggage, that’s certainly an apt description. Plus, it can tow 8,000 pounds.

There are two models, the Yukon and Yukon Denali. Both come in regular or XL sizes. The XL has a 130-inch wheelbase. The Denali is the brand’s flagship and it is loaded with luxury features and equipment. Prices for the Denali start at $62,680 and range to $65,380 for the XL.

Prices for the Yukon XL start at $49,035 for a two-wheel-drive SLE. I drove a four-wheel-drive SLT from GM’s press fleet. It had a base price of $60,435 and a sticker price of $67,270.

Because the redesigned Yukon and Yukon XL have roots in the new Sierra pickup truck they continue to be body-on-frame vehicles with V-8 engines and a good thirst for fuel. The four-wheel-drive test truck, with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, has an EPA-estimated fuel mileage rating of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the city. In mostly city driving I averaged a bit less than 14 mpg, according to the trip computer. Two-wheel-drive models are rated at 23 mpg on the highway, which GM says is an improvement of nearly 10 percent.

The test truck’s 355-horsepower V-8 was strong and responsive. It has variable valve timing, direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation. The change from V-8 to four-cylinder operation was barely perceptible on the highway.

Full-size, nearly three-ton family haulers like the Yukon XL and Chevrolet Suburban are beloved by the faithful, many of who will hook up a horse or boat trailer. The test vehicle was equipped with the trailer-towing package that included a trailer brake controller.

The Yukon’s interior has been refined and it is as comfy as the couch in your family room. The choice of materials rivals that of many luxury cars. A new feature is a front center airbag that deploys from the inside of the driver’s seat. It provides a center cushion between driver and passenger during side-impact crashes.

The gauges are similar to that of the pickup truck, but the rest of the instrument panel is softer and more like that of a car. The 8-inch touch screen for audio and navigation has a new menu system that seems less intuitive than before. A mid-year update will include an “always on” 4G LTE connection that enables the vehicle to become a mobile hotspot without relying on an individual’s smart phone. GMC will also offer an app shop so owners can download apps for weather, music, news and travel information.

One item I really like is the driver’s seat that vibrates if there is danger of hitting an object or another vehicle.

The rearview camera is useful for towing because the driver can use it to back up to the trailer hitch.

The test car was equipped with second-row bucket seats that are not only more comfortable than bench seats, but they also make it easier for people to get into the third row that is reasonably comfortable for adults.

Warranty

Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Price

The base price of the test car was $60,435. Options included power sunroof, upgraded audio system with navigation and 8-inch touch screen, rear-seat entertainment system, 20-inch polished wheels, trailer tow package, 3.42 rear axle, two-speed transfer case, second-row bucket seats and theft deterrent system. The sticker price was $67,270.

Tom Strongman’s e-mail is tom@tomstrongman.com

2015 GMC Yukon XL SLT

Engine: 5.3-liter, 355-horsepower V-8

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 130 inches

Curb weight: 5,926 pounds

Base price: $60,435

As driven: $67,270

MPG rating: 15 in the city, 22 on the highway

At A Glance

Point: Few vehicles are more comfortable for hauling seven people and their luggage. The Yukon XL has excellent seats and a long list of convenience features.

Counterpoint: This rig is expensive, thirsty and not easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

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