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2012 GMC Yukon XL

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$12,101 — $30,521 USED
22
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Sport Utility
7-9 Seats
12-13 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 2 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Fuel economy with 5.3-liter V-8
  • Power with 6.2-liter V-8
  • Roominess
  • Luxurious Denali edition

The Bad

  • Indistinct from Chevrolet Suburban at lower trim levels
  • Unwieldy dimensions
2012 GMC Yukon XL exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2012 GMC Yukon XL
  • 20 inches longer than standard Yukon
  • Choice of three V-8 engines with cylinder deactivation
  • Seats up to nine
  • Available 4WD
  • Light- or heavy-duty versions

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL isn’t particularly fuel efficient, but if you need to haul around a full crew and tow a boat, nothing else can really compare…that is until you check out the Yukon’s cheaper cousin, the Chevy Suburban, according to Kelsey Mays.

By Kelsey Mays

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL combines room and capability like few SUVs can, but unless you're getting the high-line Denali trim, it's hard to see why you wouldn't pick its cheaper twin, the Chevrolet Suburban.

The Yukon XL is GMC's version of the Suburban (compare them here) and it gets a few updates for 2012. As its name suggests, the Yukon XL is an extension of the shorter Yukon; it's also related to the Chevrolet Tahoe, as well as Cadillac's Escalade family. It's GMC's largest SUV, and it competes with the Ford Expedition EL and Toyota Sequoia.

Variants include the half-ton Yukon XL 1500 and the three-quarter-ton Yukon XL 2500. Trims are the base SLE, midlevel SLT and top-of-the-line Denali (1500 only). We drove a four-wheel-drive Yukon XL 1500 SLT. I recently reviewed the Suburban, so I'll focus here on what differentiates the Yukon XL from the Suburban.

Why the Yukon?
Unique headlights and an undivided GMC grille differentiate the Yukon from its Suburban sibling, but its boxy profile gives their relationship away. The GMC throws in a few extra standard features, especially in the SLE and Denali trims, but you'll pay for them up front. Decide if it's worth it:

 

Suburban 1500 (LS/LT/LTZ) vs. Yukon XL 1500 (SLE/SLT/Denali)
  LS vs. SLE LT vs. SLT LTZ vs. Denali
What It Costs $43,215 vs. $44,550 $46,975 vs. $48,785 $56,110 vs. $58,670
What You Get Bose stereo

Tri-zone auto A/C

Auto-dimming mirror
A...

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL combines room and capability like few SUVs can, but unless you're getting the high-line Denali trim, it's hard to see why you wouldn't pick its cheaper twin, the Chevrolet Suburban.

The Yukon XL is GMC's version of the Suburban (compare them here) and it gets a few updates for 2012. As its name suggests, the Yukon XL is an extension of the shorter Yukon; it's also related to the Chevrolet Tahoe, as well as Cadillac's Escalade family. It's GMC's largest SUV, and it competes with the Ford Expedition EL and Toyota Sequoia.

Variants include the half-ton Yukon XL 1500 and the three-quarter-ton Yukon XL 2500. Trims are the base SLE, midlevel SLT and top-of-the-line Denali (1500 only). We drove a four-wheel-drive Yukon XL 1500 SLT. I recently reviewed the Suburban, so I'll focus here on what differentiates the Yukon XL from the Suburban.

Why the Yukon?
Unique headlights and an undivided GMC grille differentiate the Yukon from its Suburban sibling, but its boxy profile gives their relationship away. The GMC throws in a few extra standard features, especially in the SLE and Denali trims, but you'll pay for them up front. Decide if it's worth it:

 

Suburban 1500 (LS/LT/LTZ) vs. Yukon XL 1500 (SLE/SLT/Denali)
  LS vs. SLE LT vs. SLT LTZ vs. Denali
What It Costs $43,215 vs. $44,550 $46,975 vs. $48,785 $56,110 vs. $58,670
What You Get Bose stereo

Tri-zone auto A/C

Auto-dimming mirror
Auto-dimming mirror Larger V-8 (+26% hp, -6% mpg)

Leather gearshift

Faux-wood steering wheel

DVD-audio capability

Available AWD (vs. 4WD in Suburban)
Prices include destination charges. Source: Automaker information.

Same Experience
Our test car's optional adaptive suspension made for excellent ride quality, but like the Suburban, the Yukon XL needs grooming. The steering lacks enough power assist at low speeds, then becomes jittery and tentative on the highway. The SUV changes direction as well as its boat-like dimensions suggest, with body roll aplenty. There's some nosedive upon braking, too. Our tester's 5,824 pounds overwhelmed its 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8, and the indecisive six-speed automatic hunted for gears even in cruise control, groping for pockets of higher-rev power that never existed in the first place. The Expedition EL feels more composed at high speeds, and the 5.7-liter Sequoia makes quicker work of the passing lane. The Yukon XL lumbers.

Of course, it can pull a lot of lumber too. Towing capacity is 8,100 pounds in the 1500 and 9,600 pounds in the 2500, which has a 352-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. Both figures beat the Sequoia; the Expedition EL tops out at 8,900 pounds.

The 1500 Denali gets a 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8. We've driven that engine in the Escalade, where it's standard, and it matches the Sequoia's gusto. The Denali swaps the Yukon XL's four-wheel drive and selectable transfer case for all-wheel-drive with automatic power transfer. EPA gas mileage ranges from a dreadful 10/15 mpg city/highway for the four-wheel-drive Yukon XL 2500 to 15/21 mpg in the 5.3-liter Yukon XL 1500. Believe it or not, the latter figure actually beats the Sequoia and Expedition EL. Still, make sure you need the truck-based Chevy's towing capacity if you buy one. If not, car-based crossover SUVs and minivans are rated 2 to 6 mpg better in combined driving, with lower starting prices to boot.

Like the Suburban, the Yukon XL boasts plenty of cargo and passenger room, with the extra length making the three-position third row roomy enough for adults. Behind that row, the Yukon XL boasts nearly three times the Yukon's cargo room, with a minivan-like 137.4 cubic feet of maximum volume if you remove the third row and fold down the second.

Cabin quality becomes less competitive every year, but at least GMC updated the available navigation system for 2012. It combines decent graphics with GM's penchant for touch-screen usability. Denali versions have additional sound insulation.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The Yukon XL hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the 1500 Denali four out of five stars overall. The SUV earned top ratings in frontal and side impacts, but just a three-star rollover rating. (Three stars is the norm for truck-based SUV rollover resistance, but the Expedition and Sequoia buck the trend with four-star ratings.) The Yukon XL 2500 hasn't been crash-tested.

Standard features include head-protecting side airbags for all three rows, plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Denali editions get a blind spot warning system. Click here for a full list of safety features, or here to see our evaluation of child-seat provisions. GMC says the Yukon XL seats up to nine, but that requires an optional three-position bench seat up front. We recommend against that, as the center position lacks frontal airbag coverage and gets only a lap seat belt.

The Yukon XL 1500 starts around $44,500 (including a destination charge of $995), with the 2500 running roughly $1,500 more. Standard features in the 1500 include tri-zone automatic climate control, partial power front seats, a USB/iPod-friendly Bose stereo and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, but not audio streaming. Heated and cooled leather seats, fully powered seat adjustments, a heated power-tilt steering wheel, rear DVD entertainment system and a navigation system are optional. A factory-loaded 2500 SLT tops out around $60,000, and the 1500 Denali can top $65,000.

Yukon XL in the Market
It's no mystery why GMC avoided the fate of Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Saab in GM's restructuring. Trucks are generally more profitable than cars, every GMC vehicle is based on a Chevrolet, and most of them carry a higher starting price. What's more, GMC buyers tend to add more options to their vehicles than do Chevy buyers. As cash cows go, GM's truck-and-SUV division was a choice bovine.

For consumers, the GMC appeal may be worth the added cost for models that sport enough styling differentiation — think the Acadia and Terrain SUVs. The Yukon XL doesn't follow that mold. Except for Denali trims, it's just a pricier Suburban — especially the midlevel SLT. The Denali's 6.2-liter V-8 offers a potent solution to the lumbering 5.3-liter, but short of that, if you need what the Yukon XL offers, visit your Chevy dealer.

 

Send Kelsey an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.8
17 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.9)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Great Family SUV

by Bama Fan from Tampa, FL on October 25, 2018

We owned a total of 3 GMC Yukon XL's over the years and it was great for our family of 5 and we never had any issues out of any of the 3. Read full review

(5.0)

Great family vehicle

by Ciceron Family from Hamden, CT on July 5, 2018

SO far this vehicle has been great, it's very spacious and accommodates all of my family needs in terms of family travel. The trunk space is exactly what we needed. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL currently has 2 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 GMC Yukon XL has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by GMC

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)

  • Powertrain

    6 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2012 Yukon XL Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Yukon XL received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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