2000 GMC Yukon Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D SLE 4WD

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2000 GMC Yukon
Dan Carney

Introduction
GMC Yukon is the stylish, luxury version of Chevy's hardworking Tahoe full-size SUV. The main differences are in the packaging of options and in the styling of the grille. The Yukon wears a dramatic, elegant blacked-out grille, while the Tahoe has a chrome-laden grille designed to look more aggressive.

The 2000 Yukon enjoys the benefit of an independent rear suspension to smooth the old Yukon's truck-like ride. But the luxury touches don't overlook the fact that GMC customers will want to tow their boat to the lake or pull their daughter's horse trailer to the show, so the 2000 model is loaded with features for towing and moving cargo. Model Lineup
Yukons come in two trim levels: loaded and more loaded. The entry level SLE trim includes air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, self-leveling suspension, CD stereo, power windows, power door locks, fog lights, tinted glass, heated outside mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel, and vehicle alarm. In two-wheel-drive configuration, the base price is $32,427. The 4x4 costs $35,305. Both of those come with the base 4.8-liter V8. Upgrade to the 5.3-liter motor for another $700.

The SLT package comes in two levels. You can get an SLT that adds leather seats to the SLE equipment for an additional $1,535. Or, you can get the real SLT and heap on power seats, seat heaters, premium ride suspension, OnStar driver assistance and automatic climate control for $3,012.

The 2000 Yukon Denali is a continuation of the 1999 model, so it is a carryover awaiting replacement this fall. (Look for New Car Test Drive's upcoming review of the 2001 Denali.) Walkaround
The most obvious aspect of the all-new Yukon is that its styling is mildly evolutionary, not radically changed. While the new model looks very similar to its predecessor, one change is an arched roofline that provides extra headroom for the second and third rows.

Getting inside the 2000 Yukon is easier thanks to new pull-handle style door handles that replace the old lift-up style openers. Step-in height has been reduced, making it easier to climb into the driver's seat.

Buyers can choose between a traditional hatch with flip-up window or a pair of cargo doors. Interior
GMC has gone to great lengths to make the Yukon's interior more comfortable, easier to operate and more attractive for families. Controls are mounted closer to the driver's seat. Visibility out of the Yukon is very good, thanks to new larger windows. The combination of good visibility and confident handling give the Yukon an air of nimbleness that the Ford Expedition lacks.

The Yukon also tops the Expedition in the usefulness of its third-row seat. While the Ford's third seat is a children-only compression chamber, the Yukon's third seat provides space for adults' feet. It isn't a lot of space, but it is there. The third seat also folds, flips, slides and removes impressively. Whichever way you choose to stow the third-row seat, it is easy to do; it even has wheels to help it roll into the garage for storage.

One child-only seat in the Yukon is the middle seat on the optional front bench seat. The seat is basically two low-bolstered bucket seats, bridged by a fixed, non-reclining mid-section where the console sits on most Yukons. This perch is too uncomfortable for any adult and is probably not a good idea for more than short rides for children. Yes, kids are safest in the back seat, but the front seat in a full-size SUV like the Yukon is statistically safer than the rear seat in most any car. Just keep those rear-facing child seats in the back, away from the airbags.

The leather seats standard in the SLT are very nice. Seat-mounted shoulder harnesses on the front and rear seats make the Yukon's belts easier to wear.

The Yukon has a good nine-speaker stereo with a subwoofer and uses a spiral-wrapped radio antenna to cut wind noise. GMC says it chose to use a conventional mast rather than embedding the antenna in a window for better performance. Look for a different antenna matched to an improved radio late in the model year. Driving Impressions
The Yukon delivers on the promise of its impressive specifications. On bumpy rural byways that make some SUVs feel like pogo sticks, the Yukon rides with impressive, sedan-like smoothness. On smooth highways, the Yukon cruises effortlessly.

Car-based SUVs such as the Lexus RX300 use independent rear suspension to provide the ride and handling customers expect, but GMC has managed to give the Yukon those benefits without compromising its cargo-carrying utility. A new five-link independent rear suspension contributes to better ride and handling than any vehicle in this class. The front suspension is conventional in design, except for the springs. To save space, the Yukon uses torsion bars instead of coil springs. The Yukon's conventional ladder frame is fully boxed in the mid-section for maximum rigidity, while the front and rear portions are shaped by the same hydro-forming technique used to make Corvette frames. This design is a key to the Yukon's excellent ride and handling. At the very front of the frame is a section that is designed to crush and absorb impacts in a crash.

The premium ride suspension helps keep the Yukon level over bumps. This effect is especially pronounced when towing; a trailer tends to cause the towing vehicle to rock back and forth when driving over bumps, but the premium ride system keeps the Yukon amazingly smooth.

The recirculating-ball steering provides good control and feedback, even if it falls short of the rack-and-pinion steering found on the Ford Explorer and in many sports cars. Yukon's power steering system is designed for durability by operating at a lower temperature range. A much-tighter 38.3-foot turning diameter makes the Yukon easier to park than before.

The rear axle now carries dual-piston brake calipers for its disc brakes. Along with bigger front discs, the new Yukon enjoys a much-needed upgrade in the stopping department. The upgraded brakes perform nicely. As a test, we towed a heavily laden horse trailer without trailer brakes connected and were impressed with the braking ability. A dynamic proportioning system continuously balances the front and rear brakes for maximum braking without activating the ABS.

Under the hood, the Yukon employs the latest version of Chevy's small-block V8 engine family. These Generation III overhead-valve engines are the best yet and rival competitors' overhead-cam engines for smoothness and efficiency. The new 4.8-liter version cranks out 275 horsepower, which is 20 more than the old 5.7-liter motor. At the same time, it is quite efficient: the 2WD 4.8-liter version, for example, earns 20 mpg on the EPA's highway mileage test. The tested 5.3-liter engine is rated at 285 horsepower and its acceleration performance is impressive. Like the 4.8-liter engine, the 5.3-liter burns regular unleaded fuel, making pit stops a little more affordable.

The tested two-wheel-drive Yukon offers a limited-slip rear differential to give drivers better traction in slippery conditions. More clutch disks than before mean smoother engagement of the differential lock. An available traction assist (not quite true traction control) cuts engine power as needed to help maintain traction to the rear tires. A second-gear winter start feature in the automatic transmission also helps get the Yukon rolling without wheel spin under slippery conditions. These two systems make the 4x2 Yukon sufficient for all but those who live at the end of long driveways in snowy climates.

All Yukons are equipped to accept a lighting plug for trailer towing, and have provisions for connecting a trailer brake controller very easily. They also have a deeper oil pan on the transmission to provide a better supply of cool transmission fluid while towing. Our Yukon equipped with the towing package included a receiver hitch and an external oil-to-air transmission cooler. GMC says the cooler is unnecessary, but that customers who tow install them universally. Cool transmission fluid is vital to transmission life, so they figure better safe than sorry. Summary
The GMC Yukon gives full-size SUV shoppers a chance to visit their GMC/Pontiac dealer as well as their Chevrolet dealer to cut a deal. The Yukon is arguably better looking than its Tahoe twin is, but both are comfortable, roomy SUVs that get surprisingly good gas mileage. The Yukon offers more power and more seating capacity than its predecessor and adds safety features such as side-impact air bags. These changes don't just make the new Yukon better than the old one; they make it better than the other full-size SUVs available.

Model as tested
SLT 4x2, 5.3-liter ($36,139)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Janesville, Wisconsin; Arlington, Texas
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
32427
Price as tested
36139
Options as tested
5.3-liter V8 ($700)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
SLE 4x2 ($32,427); SLT 4x2 ($35,439); SLE 4x4 ($35,305); SLT 4x4 ($38,317)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual front air bags, front side-impact air bags, four-wheel ABS
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
5.3-liter V8
Transmissions
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
(SLT) electronic climate control, cruise control, rear defogger, power door locks, leather seating surfaces, nine-speaker stereo system with subwoofer, second-row audio controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt, power windows, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors, remote keyless entry, 16-inch polished aluminum wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
5.3-liter V8
Drivetrain type
two-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
285 @ 5200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
16/19
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
Independent short-long arm with torsion arms
Tires
P245/75R-16
Suspension, rear
five-link with coil springs

Accomodations
Seating capacity
6
Head/hip/leg room, middle
39.4/61.3/38.6
Head/hip/leg room, front
40.7/61.4/41.3
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.4/49.0/27.3

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
108.2
Wheelbase
116.0
Length/width/height
198.9/78.9/74.2
Turning circle
39.3
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
8100
Track, front/rear
65.0/66.0
Ground clearance
8.4
Curb weight
4828


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