2015 GMC Yukon: Full-Size Improvements, Innovations

By Sue Mead, May 17th, 2014

The all-new 2015 Yukon is "evolutionary with an edge," so says GMC when describing the latest version of its full-size SUV. Also in the Yukon portfolio is the flagship 2015 Yukon Denali model, a "gem trim" that originated in 1999. The new Yukons are redesigned inside and out, with greater capability, refinement, and performance.

Manufacturer photo: GMC's all-new 2015 Yukon delivers greater capability and refinement, with more power, new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior
Manufacturer photo: GMC's all-new 2015 Yukon delivers greater capability and refinement, with more power, new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior

GMC's 2015 Yukon and its longer-wheelbase sibling the Yukon XL share design, structural, and powertrain foundations, and are within the General Motors stable that includes the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. This updated collection of SUVs, with three rows of seating that can hold up to nine passengers, competes with the Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, and Dodge Durango.

The 2015 Yukon starts at $47,330 for two-wheel-drive versions and $50,330 for four-wheel-drive models; trims include the SLE, SLT, and top-of-the-line Denali.

Emboldened with new design elements, the 2015 Yukon also updates its engine and communication technologies, as well as safety and security features. A long list of standard features is onboard all models with an even greater number on the uplevel trim, while the Denali model gets an exclusive list of upscale materials and amenities, plus a larger engine.

Standard on Yukons is GM's EcoTec3 5.3-liter engine that has been revised to get 11 percent more power (355 horsepower) and 14 percent more torque (383 lb.-ft. of torque) than previous versions; it is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Rated as the segment's best V-8 fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 16 city/23 highway mpg for 2WDs, this represents a nearly 10-percent improvement over previous models; 4WD models get 16/22 mpg and can tow 8,300 pounds, while 2WDs can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

Manufacturer photo: GMC's all-new 2015 Yukon delivers greater capability and refinement, with more power, new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior

Yukon Denali's exclusive 6.2-liter V-8 engine is the most powerful in the segment, with 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. Denali models are rated at 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway for 2WD versions and 14/21 mpg for 4WDs. Both engines benefit from GM's Active Fuel Management and can operate on four cylinders -- instead of eight -- under moderate driving situations.

We drove the 2015 Yukon Denali 4WD base priced at $65,680 and immediately noticed the quietness when under power as a result of new inlaid doors that reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics, as well as the laminated windshield and front door glass. Denali models also have active noise cancellation technology to make the interior quieter.

We appreciated additional storage options, including a compartmentalized center console large enough to store a laptop or iPad, with a place for hanging file folders and other organizational features to make the Yukon a rolling office.

The drive was impressive, especially for the weight of this full-size SUV that tallies in at a tick over 3 tons in 4WD versions. The 6.2-liter V-8 provided plenty of power when needed and often was in four-cylinder mode for better fuel economy.

Smooth motoring comes from the upgraded chassis and suspension systems and Yukon's wider rear track, plus the fully boxed frame, which is made up of more than 75 percent high-strength steel. Wheels are a half-inch wider, which reduces tire flex that improves cornering and overall handling on tight and twisty roads and when making passing maneuvers.

Manufacturer photo: GMC's all-new 2015 Yukon delivers greater capability and refinement, with more power, new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior

Our drive in the 2015 GMC took us from Sacramento to Napa, Calif., over a course of 150 miles. GM's new, electric variable-assist power steering system, new four-wheel disc brakes and brake pedal revision, plus Denali's third-generation magnetic ride control all contributed to the luxury-level ride of this full-size SUV. Magnetic ride control is a real-time damping system that delivers more precise body motion control by "reading" the road every millisecond and changing damping in 5 milliseconds.

On the outside, highly detailed, chrome-accented grilles are offset with GMC's signature C-shaped lights with LED lighting in front and the rear. Projector-beam headlamps are standard on Yukon, while Denali models stand out for their signature chrome grille and unique exterior adornments, including exclusive high-intensity discharge headlamps.

Of note, a standard rear spoiler on the liftgate now houses the rear window wiper that is tucked away when not in use. Illuminated, power-retractable assist steps are available on Denali. Also new are 18-, 20-, and 22-inch wheels.

Yukon's updated exterior and interior heighten GMC's "professional grade" brand values, with upscale cues and luxury-level trims and materials that are both attractive and functional.

Specifications

Base price $65,680 (as tested: $71,780)
Curb weight 5,784 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Epa mileage rating 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26 gal.
Horsepower (net) 420 at 5600 rpm
Motor type OHV V-8 w/DI
Overall length 203.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 460 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 9-passenger 4WD full-size SUV
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