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2019 GMC Yukon: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 11/28/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a person driving a car: 2019 GMC Yukon© General Motors 2019 GMC Yukon

The 2019 GMC Yukon ranks near the bottom of the large SUV class. In its standard configuration, its ride can be bumpy over uneven pavement, and it has less cargo room and tighter third-row space than rivals. Also, many competitors feel more powerful than the Yukon with its base engine.

The 2019 GMC Yukon is ranked:

Is the GMC Yukon a Good SUV?

The GMC Yukon is an OK large SUV. It has a long list of features, an upscale cabin, and a silky ride with its upgraded suspension. However, most of its benefits lie with the top-level Denali trim. The ride can be a little bumpy with the standard suspension, and the throttle is slow with the base engine. Many rivals have more cargo space than the standard Yukon, and its third-row seating is tight. An available long-wheelbase variant offsets some of these problems. However, by the time you’ve upgraded your SUV to deal with its drawbacks, you’re paying a pretty penny. Before buying the Yukon, you should consider some of its classmates.

Should I Buy the GMC Yukon?

You can likely find a better large SUV than the GMC Yukon. It has an upscale cabin, but third-row legroom and cargo space are both tight. Moving to a long-wheelbase Yukon XL solves these issues, but to get the most out of the full-size Yukon, you’ll have to skirt past the base SLE trim and get an upper-trim model with the larger engine (optional in the SLT trim, standard in the Denali). Ride quality is not as smooth as you’d expect with the base setup, and the throttle response is muted. There are many large SUVs that offer many of the Denali’s appealing traits for a lower price.

The Chevrolet Tahoe is built on the same platform as the Yukon. It has the same dimensions, features, and engines but is slightly more affordable. The Chevrolet Suburban closely parallels the Yukon XL, matching its third-row legroom and cavernous cargo hold. The Ford Expedition is a little pricier than the Yukon, but it has higher fuel economy estimates and a higher towing capacity, as well as a good ride quality and nice available off-roading options.

Should I Buy a New or Used GMC Yukon?

GMC did not introduce any major changes to the Yukon for 2019. Because of that, you can likely save money while getting a virtually identical vehicle by purchasing an older model. The 2018 Yukon gained a 10-speed automatic transmission in the Denali trim, which brought smoother, timelier shifts. The 2017 Yukon received low-speed automatic emergency braking and a Teen Driver safety feature, while the 2016 SUV gained lane-keep assist.

GMC redesigned the Yukon for the 2015 model year, so while older Yukons might save you more money, they’ll have weaker engines, lower fuel economy estimates, different exterior styling, and fewer standard features. However, they may still appeal to budget-conscious shoppers.

To research used Yukon models, read our 2016, 2017, and 2018 GMC Yukon reviews. If you decide that an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 25 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as crash test results and reliability ratings, as well as the opinions of the automotive press. This GMC Terrain review draws on applicable research and data from all models in the Yukon's current generation, which runs from 2015 to 2019.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the GMC Yukon Cost?

The 2019 Yukon has a starting MSRP of $49,500, and the extended-wheelbase XL variant is available for $2,700 more. That’s about average for a full-size SUV. Its handsome interior and generous number of standard features (including goodies such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot) make it a good value. Shoppers looking for the punchier engine and maximum luxury might look to the range-topping Yukon Denali, which retails for around $66,600.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

GMC Yukon Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Tahoe?

The Chevrolet Tahoe is the corporate twin of the GMC Yukon. These two SUVs share the same passenger and cargo space, engine options and power output, and fuel economy estimates. The Tahoe does not offer a long-wheelbase model, though (the counterpart to the Yukon XL is the Chevrolet Suburban). With an MSRP of $47,900, the Chevy Tahoe is slightly more affordable than the base Yukon. That trend continues up the trim levels, with the range-topping Tahoe Premier ($62,600) saving you around $4,000 compared to the Yukon Denali. If you want the added interior luxury, consider the Yukon. Otherwise, you can save money by going with the virtually identical Tahoe.

Which Is Better: GMC Yukon or Ford Expedition?

The Ford Expedition is an excellent large SUV. Redesigned for the 2018 model year, it has a long-wheelbase model like the Yukon, but even its standard configuration has more cargo space than the standard Yukon. The GMC has more standard features, but the Ford has a higher towing capacity and several off-road features designed to tackle trails. It also has a nice cabin and a good amount of space, even in the third row. As far as full-size SUVs go, the Expedition is one of the best. But it is pricey. Ford has not officially released pricing for the 2019 Expedition, but the 2018 model started at around $51,800. If you have a little room in your budget, go for the Expedition.

Yukon Interior

How Many People Does the Yukon Seat?

The Yukon seats eight people on premium cloth upholstery in its standard configuration. An available front-row bench seat raises seating capacity to nine, while optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce capacity to seven. Leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel are available.

The first two rows are spacious enough for most adults, though the third row is best left to children. However, the long-wheelbase Yukon XL adds about 10 inches of third-row legroom, making it more hospitable for adults. All the seats are well-padded and comfortable. The large rear doors make entering and exiting the rear seats easy, and there are available power-retractable steps to assist with entry.

Yukon and Car Seats

The Yukon has complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors for all second-row seats and tether-only connections for all third-row positions. Some of the tether anchors are difficult to find.

Yukon Interior Quality

The GMC Yukon has a first-rate interior full of premium materials. The Denali trim is nice enough to rival many luxury vehicles, though even the lower trim levels are impressively handsome. The cabin remains quiet, especially with the available Active Noise Cancellation in effect to mute harsh wind and road noise.

Yukon Cargo Space

The Yukon has 15.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. With the third-row fold-flat seats down, space expands to 51.7 cubic feet. Folding both the second- and third-row seats reveals a maximum 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Those numbers are low for the class. The long-wheelbase body style has 39.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 121.7 cubic feet with both back rows folded down. That’s a little more than the Toyota Sequoia and comparable to the long-wheelbase Ford Expedition. An available hands-free, power liftgate makes it easier to load cargo.

Yukon Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The GMC Infotainment system features five USB ports, Bluetooth, a nine-speaker Bose premium sound system, voice recognition, an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.

Optional equipment includes a navigation system, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, and wireless device charging. Both a rear-seat DVD system and an overhead rear-seat entertainment system are available.

The infotainment system is generally easy to use, and redundant buttons and knobs for controlling audio and climate settings are easy to access.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Yukon Performance

Yukon Engine: 2 Great V8s

GMC offers two powertrains with the 2019 Yukon. The first features a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Available in the SLT trim and standard in the Denali is a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine has ample power for most driving situations, though you’ll need to floor the gas pedal to tap into it. Additionally, its transmission can be slow to shift. The Denali's setup is easier to work with. It delivers more power and better acceleration, and its transmission makes smooth, timely shifts.

Yukon Gas Mileage: No Complaints Here

With its base engine and rear-wheel drive, the Yukon earns estimates of 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel-drive long-wheelbase XL models lose 1 mpg from each estimate. Models with the larger engine earn an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those figures are slightly above average for the class, surpassing both the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia. The Chevrolet Tahoe earns similar estimates.

Yukon Ride and Handling: Silky Upgraded Suspension

The full-size Yukon SUV generally provides a smooth ride, though smaller bumps can make the ride jittery. The available Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension goes a long way toward fixing this. With it, the Yukon can adapt to changing road conditions, providing a refined ride for occupants. This full-size SUV turns neatly around corners without much body roll. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while four-wheel drive is available.

Yukon Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the full-size 2019 GMC Yukon can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

Yukon Reliability

Is the GMC Yukon Reliable?

As of this writing, J.D. Power has not evaluated the 2019 Yukon.

GMC Yukon Warranty

The GMC Yukon comes with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Many large SUVs have similar warranty terms.

Yukon Safety

Yukon Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Yukon a four-out-of-five-star overall rating. At time of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested this vehicle.

Yukon Safety Features

A rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and Teen Driver, which lets you set speed and volume limits for secondary drivers, come standard in the Yukon. Available active safety features include adaptive headlights, a safety alert seat, a head-up display, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, low-speed forward automatic braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Which GMC Yukon Model Is Right for Me?

GMC offers the Yukon in four trim levels – SLE, SLT Standard Edition, SLT, and Denali – and all are available in a long-wheelbase variant called the Yukon XL. XL models cost an extra $2,700 and have the same features as the regular Yukon trims but with 24.3 more cubic feet of space behind the third row and about 10 more inches of third-row legroom. Four-wheel drive is also available in each trim as a $3,000 upgrade. For $1,995, you can add a rear-seat DVD system with screens integrated in the headrests.

The base SLE is well-equipped and should satisfy most shoppers. It’s also available with a few safety features. If there’s room in your budget, however, consider upgrading to the top-of-the-line Yukon Denali. It features a potent 6.2-liter V8 engine, and its Magnetic Ride Control can adapt to changing road conditions and greatly improves ride quality. Inside, the Denali rivals many luxury vehicles in terms of quality. It’s about $17,000 more than the base trim, but its ride quality, luxury features, and added horsepower is worth the price if you can afford it.

GMC Yukon SLE

The GMC Yukon SLE has an MSRP of $49,500. That buys you a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a Teen Driver system that lets you set speed and audio limits for secondary drivers. Other standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, premium cloth upholstery, alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, remote start, cruise control, and the GMC infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, voice commands, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

For $545, you can outfit your SUV with the Enhanced Driver Alert package. It features forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a safety alert seat, and adaptive headlights. The Convenience package ($730) adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power liftgate, and power-adjustable pedals.

GMC Yukon SLT Standard Edition

The GMC Yukon SLT Standard Edition (MSRP: $54,700) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, leather seats, and all the features listed above, including the two packages. The Open Road package is available for $3,430 and includes a sunroof, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a built-in navigation system.

GMC Yukon SLT

The Yukon SLT has an MSRP of $57,500. It has perforated leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row bench seats, a heated steering wheel, a power tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel, a hands-free liftgate, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. In addition to the Open Road package, there's a new-for-2019 Graphite Edition package (pricing determined by dealer) featuring 22-inch alloy wheels, unique exterior styling, and a Premium Smooth Ride suspension. Adaptive cruise control is available for $895. You can also upgrade to the larger 6.2-liter engine for around $8,000.

GMC Yukon Denali

The GMC Yukon Denali has a window sticker price of $66,600. The Denali features a 6.2-liter V8 engine, a 10-speed automatic transmission, unique exterior styling, larger alloy wheels, ash wood interior trim, an integrated navigation system, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, a head-up display, Magnetic Ride Control, and Active Noise Cancellation. The Denali Ultimate package adds a sunroof, anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control, and power-retractable assist steps.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

The Final Call

The 2019 Yukon is an OK large SUV. The top-of-the-line GMC Yukon Denali is where most of its advantages lie, with a luxurious interior and an upgraded suspension. Extended wheelbase XL models increase cargo space and third-row legroom. However, the standard-configuration Yukon has a cramped third row, a jittery ride, a slow-shifting transmission, and a dull throttle response. Before buying this SUV, it’s worth looking at competitors like the Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 GMC Yukon review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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