GMC’s Yukon full-size sport utility vehicle is closely related to the Chevrolet Tahoe, and both models are based on General Motors’ full-size pickup trucks. The Yukon and Tahoe compete against such full-size SUVs as the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, and Toyota’s Land Cruiser and Sequoia.
GMC also sells a larger SUV called the Yukon XL, which is comparable to the Chevrolet Suburban. SLE and SLT trim levels in the Yukon lineup come with rear-wheel drive or Autotrac four-wheel drive that includes Low-range gearing.
GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability system is standard, and a DVD-based touch-screen navigation radio can be installed. Ultra Bright 17-inch wheels are optional. Several other features, including an electrochromatic rearview mirror, GM’s OnStar communication system and steering-wheel auxiliary controls, become standard for 2006.
A luxurious Denali edition is equipped with permanently engaged all-wheel drive, leather upholstery and specific front-end styling. Standard Yukon Denali equipment includes a monochrome exterior color scheme, a nine-speaker Bose audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer, XM Satellite Radio and 17-inch tires. A 335-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 powers the Denali. Seven-spoke, chrome-plated cast-aluminum wheels that measure 20 inches in diameter are available.
Differences between the Yukon and Tahoe are primarily in the grille, where a prominent GMC badge is featured on the Yukon. The four-door Yukon measures 198.9 inches long overall, placing it between the midsize Envoy (191.6) and the full-size Yukon XL (219.3) in GMC’s lineup. Built on a 116-inch wheelbase, the rear-drive Yukon is 78.9 inches wide and 76.7 inches tall (including the roof rack). It is equipped with standard 16-inch tires and a tire-pressure-monitoring system.
Yukons can accommodate as many as nine occupants when properly equipped. Depending on the model, the first row can be equipped with two bucket seats or a three-place bench. The middle row can feature a three-place bench or captain’s chairs, and a three-place rear bench can be installed. Built-in wheels aid the removal of the folding middle and rear seats. Cargo volume is nearly 105 cubic feet when the middle and rear seats are removed, but space decreases to 16.3 cubic feet when all the seats are in place. Adjustable pedals are available.
The SLE and SLT get either a 285-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 or a 295-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 that can run on a combination of gasoline and ethanol fuel. The Yukon Denali is equipped with a 335-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. All engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The Denali has computer-controlled shock absorbers that change their stiffness based on driving conditions.
Dual-stage occupant-sensing front airbags, antilock brakes and StabiliTrak are standard. Side-impact airbags are standard in the Denali and optional in other Yukons.
Despite its size, the Yukon is surprisingly easy to drive. It steers with a light touch and delivers a pleasantly smooth ride. Denali models are loaded with luxuries, perform with vigorous throttle response and demonstrate few truck sensations. The navigation screen is mounted high, but it’s small.