2007 GMC Yukon XL Pricing

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2007 GMC Yukon XL
Lou Ann Hammond

Introduction
There have been better times for full-size sport utility vehicles. Faced with rising gas prices, eco-protests and nervous insurance underwriters, some shoppers have turned elsewhere in their search for family-size transport.

But for others, nothing can take the place of a large, powerful and roomy SUV, especially those who need to tow and haul. It's for these faithful that GMC intends the mostly all-new 2007 Yukon and Yukon Denali.

Inside, everything's new. Seats are lighter, more comfortable. The dash is seriously simplified, with major reductions in confusing knobs, buttons and displays. The interior styling is refreshingly elegant, hinting at aspirations for entry-luxury status.

An equally new exterior wraps around that delightful interior. The re-styled front end remains true to the GMC trademark shapes and geometric but with a thoroughly modern flavor. Sides shorn of overbearing cladding add lightness to an otherwise fairly substantial presence. Optional, 20-inch polished wheels add a touch of high fashion trendiness.

The 2007 Yukon is three inches longer than last year's model, nearly all of which goes to added front seat legroom and cargo area, but the wheelbase is the same length.

The popular 5.3-liter V8 engine gets a moderate boost in power and, perhaps more important, an ingenious system that shuts down half the cylinders under light load, improving fuel economy by one or two miles per gallon. The base 4.8-liter V8 gets a slight boost in power, too. At the top of the line, the luxurious Yukon Denali boasts a new 6.2-liter V8 generating 380 horsepower with a new six-speed automatic.

The Yukon seats six to nine passengers and is rated to tow up to 7700 pounds when properly equipped, enough to tow cars, boats and horses. All in all, a nice package and a real leap forward from the previous generation.

Adding to the appeal, starting MSRP for the 2007 Yukon is more than $3000 less than the comparable 2006 Yukon, itself re-priced in the fall of 2005 as part of GM's Value Pricing initiative. Model Lineup
The 2007 GMC Yukon lineup offers a choice of three different V8 engines and a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive except the Yukon Denali, which comes with all-wheel drive.

The standard GMC Yukon comes with a 290-hp 4.8-liter V8 and four-speed automatic. The 4.8-liter engine is not part of the initial launch, however. Once it's available, we expect the Yukon will be available at a lower base price.

The Yukon SLE 2WD ($33,815) and 4WD ($37,615) come with the 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management and four-speed automatic. Also available is the 5.3-liter V8 with AFM and E85 Flex-Fuel capability. Standard equipment includes cruise control; multi-zone air conditioning front and rear; AM/FM/CD/MP3, eight-speaker stereo; driver information center; the usual powered features, with the outside mirrors heated and foldable; a six-way, power driver's seat; leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel; cloth upholstery; 40/20/40 split front bench seat with manual recliners; 60/40 split folding second row bench seat; roof rails; locking rear differential; 17-inch, bright aluminum wheels; and three power outlets. A second-tier SLE 2WD ($35,565) and 4WD ($38,365) adds foglamps, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, rear-seat audio controls and outputs and cargo cover and mat; replaces the front bench seat with a pair of buckets and a center console; and upgrades the stereo speakers to a nine-speaker-with-subwoofer, Bose Premium system.

The uplevel Yukon SLT 2WD ($37,995) and 4WD ($40,795) are available with either of the 5.3-liter V8s, both fitted with the four-speed automatic. In addition to or in place of similar features on the SLE, the SLT gets automatic climate control; power adjustable pedals; front tow hooks; leather-trimmed, bucket front seats; leather-appointed, 60/40 split, second row bench seat; six-disc CD changer; rear seat audio controls and outputs; programmable remote garage opener; and remote start. There's also a second-tier SLT 2WD ($40,060) and 4WD ($42,860) that add roof rack cross bars; outside mirrors upgraded with integrated turn signals, ground illumination, reverse-tilting and driver-side auto dimming; heated, 12-way power driver and six-way power front passenger seats with two-setting driver side memory; vinyl-covered, 50/50 split, two-passenger, third-row bench seat; and XM Satellite Radio.

Yukons offer extensive lists of options, both free standing and in packages. Popular packages include two navigation systems, one of which incorporates a DVD capability ($2145); and the rear seat entertainment system ($1295); and the power liftgate ($350). The third-row seat comes in two forms: two-passenger and a three-passenger.

Options include XM Satellite Radio ($199), power adjustable pedals ($120), power sunroof ($995), roof rack cross bars ($45), power release for the curb-side second row seat ($425), heated second-row seats ($200), rain-sensing windshield wipers ($95), 20-inch wheels ($1795), front fog lamps ($140), six-disc CD changer stereo upgrade ($300), remote starter ($175) and retractable cargo cover ($70). Finally, by way of cold weather, towing and off-road options, but again only on some models, buyers can order one of two lower rear axle ratios ($100), an engine block heater ($50), a heavy duty transmission oil cooler ($95), a windshield washer fluid heater ($85), an off-road skid plate ($125), and Autoride suspension with variable shocks and air-assisted real load leveling ($1120).

The top-level Yukon Denali ($47,115) comes with a 380-hp 6.2-liter V8 with all-wheel drive and a new six-speed automatic. Standard features over and above those expected include heated first- and second-row seats; auxiliary transmission oil cooler; locking rear differential; power second-row seat release; front-row bucket seats, second-row Captain's chairs and removable three-passenger, third-row bench seat; digital 10-speaker Premium Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System; wood-and-leather trimmed steering wheel; Autoride suspension; and trailer tow package. Options include many of those offered on the SLE and SLT models plus a heated steering wheel ($150).

Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage front airbags; four-wheel antilock brakes with dynamic rear proportioning that balances braking front to rear for optimum stopping force; Stabilitrak stability control system; LATCH child safety seat anchors; tire pressure monitoring system; and OnStar emergency notification system with one-year pre-paid subscription. Optional are roof-mounted, full-coverage, side curtain airbags ($350; standard on SLT and Denali); rearview camera system ($195; SLT and Denali only); and rear park assist ($245; standard on Denali). Walkaround
Designers can do interesting things with styling cues, and with the 2007 GMC Yukon, they've managed to make a vehicle that's larger than its predecessor look smaller, more compact, and definitely more svelte.

Stripping off excessive cladding and overly decorative brightwork and ironing out tired body ripples combine to transform the looks of the Yukon and Yukon Denali. Although the 2007 models are nearly three inches longer than their predecessors, the quieter, calmer surface planes diminish the perception of that extended length. Likewise, the smooth, gently contoured flanks and arrow-straight beltline visually lower the height. Remarkably tight tolerances between body panels invite comparisons with the highest quality imports.

The one-piece, softer-look front end presents a friendlier, more welcoming face but without forfeiting the Yukon's presence. Large headlight housings promise good vision. The trademark grille and lower air intake ensure good breathing. A more sharply raked windshield eases movement through the air.

Tall, symmetrical side glass fits flush with surrounding body panels. Door handles bridging deep recesses make for easy gripping in all seasons. Squared-off wheel wells carry forward a Yukon signature styling cue but, frankly, yearn for larger wheels and more substantial rubber. Save on the Yukon Denali, that is, which rides on 20-inch, chromed aluminum wheels wearing low profile, blackwall tires.

As inspired as the Yukon's overall new look is, the back end is decidedly less so. Then again, a family vehicle that has to accommodate up to nine people and haul their cargo doesn't leave stylists much leeway for creativity. Thus, the broad, mostly flat, almost vertical tailgate in between tall, narrow taillights. The independently hinged rear window is a nice touch, permitting easy loading of grocery bags and such. Interior
While the exterior design of the new Yukon is a great leap forward, the remake of the interior borders on revolutionary. Just by the measure of how many buttons and knobs there aren't, the '07 Yukon reflects a radical re-thinking by the people in charge of deciding how occupants will relate to their immediate surroundings.

Topping the list is the re-positioning of the dash. Lowered by half a foot, re-contoured and elegantly simplified, the new instrument panel and center stack would look right at home in 'most any luxury SUV. In fact, we think it's a friendlier, slicker and more integrated assemblage of gauges, display screens, touch pads and control panels than those in either the Range Rover or the new Mercedes-Benz GL450, both priced substantially higher than the Yukon models, including the Denali. The gauge cluster is more informative, reporting via secondary analog dials powertrain data many others leave to warning lights or bury in scrollable information displays.

The fit between panels and coverings is impressive, with tight tolerances. Leather surfaces feel expensive, if not luxurious. Less impressive is the finish of some of the hard plastic surfaces, which look better than they feel. The headliner is a woven fabric that looks and feels like mouse fur.

The design of the dash gives the driver an expansive view out the windshield, adding to the feeling of being above it all. Visibility is good all around, although the imposing C-pillar (the post between the rear side door and the rear quarter panel,) does nothing to reduce the large side mirrors' blind spot. Along the same lines, the third row seat blocks the lower third of the rear window; folding the third row down eliminates this.

The redesigned seats are refreshing. The seat belts are mounted to the B-pillar, a nice improvement over the awkward seat-mounted belts used on previous models. The design of the new belts should also offer improved occupant protection. This yields lighter, less bulky seats that are more comfortable and easier to adjust. Thigh support, a common deficiency in GM vehicles, is good in the front seats and second-row Captain's chairs. We're disappointed with the folding armrests, however; they have one setting, which won't fit every occupant. Some way to adjust the angle of these armrests would be welcome.

Room for people is respectable and competitive with other full-size SUVs. In all but the second-row seats, there's more headroom, legroom and hiproom than in the 2006 Yukon, and the shortfalls in the second-row seat are measured in fractions of an inch. Comparisons with the 2006 Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia are mixed.

In the front seat, the 2007 Yukon bests the Expedition and the Armada by several inches in all three dimensions, while equaling the Sequoia in headroom and bettering it in the other two.

In the second row, the new Yukon trails the Expedition in headroom and legroom and betters it in hiproom, but by less than an inch in all regards; the same holds for the Armada, again in all three measures; and the Sequoia tops it in headroom but comes up short in legroom and hiproom. As for second-row access, the new Yukon still suffers from small-feet syndrome, where the clearance between the base of the second row seat and the doorframe is so cramped, it's impossible to step in or out without turning your feet sideways.

Third-row legroom is limited in the Yukon where we found little space for our feet and our knees wound up at chest level. The Expedition, Sequoia and Armada offer more legroom for third-row passengers. The bench-like third row seat is minimally cushioned. On the upside, climbing in and out of that rearmost seat is surprisingly easy in the Yukon. The second-row seat folds up out of the way with the release of a lever on the outboard pivot, or even better, at the press of a button with the optional power-fold feature. Unfolding the seat is done manually, however. Make sure it's securely latched.

Cargo space behind the third row is limited, with just 17 cubic feet, less than any of the three competitors. With the second- and third-row seats folded, the Yukon offer comparable cargo space for the class, squeaking by the Expedition, exceeding the Armada's space by more than 10 cubic feet, but losing to the Sequoia by almost 20 cubic feet.

Cubby storage includes a compact glove box; fixed map pockets with molded-in bottle holders on the front doors; and pouches on the backs of the front seatbacks. A large bin with removable double cup holder is provided between the front seats. In the Yukon Denali, this feature is separated into a storage bin and twin cup holders, both with hinged covers and surrounded in woodgrain. Ordering the front bench seat elminates the center console, of course. Driving Impressions
When it comes to trucks, numbers matter, arguably more than they do with cars. The most popular engine for the GMC Yukon is the 5.3-liter V8, which produces 320 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque. Our test Yukon was listed at 5537 pounds.

Examining these numbers should give a good idea of how a 5.3-liter Yukon will perform against the competition. By comparison, the 2006 Ford Expedition puts up a 5.4-liter V8 making 300 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque with a six-speed automatic and tips the scales at 5805 pounds. The 2006 Nissan Armada's 5.6-liter V8 makes 305 hp and 385 lb.-ft. of torque, mates to a five-speed automatic and carries a curb weight of 5623 pounds. Toyota's 2006 Sequoia comes with a 4.7-liter V8 making 273 hp and 314 lb.-ft. of torque with a five-speed automatic and weighs 5025 pounds.

Note, however, that the Yukon's 5.3-liter engine comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, while many full-size SUVs now come with five-, six-, and seven-speed automatics. More gears generally means smoother operation, better fuel economy, quicker acceleration performance or all three. The Yukon's four-speed automatic negates any power advantage the Yukon might otherwise have enjoyed at least as far as outright acceleration is concerned. Put another way, while it'll easily hold its own on the interstates, the Yukon isn't going to win many stoplight grands prix.

Not so, though, the Yukon Denali, which would leave its lesser sibling and all the others in the dust were its driver so inclined. The Denali packs a 380-hp 6.2-liter V8 and six-speed automatic.

Fuel economy is a much better story for the new Yukon. The 2WD and 4WD versions each earn an EPA combined City/Highway estimate of 18 mpg. That's not exactly Toyota Prius territory, but the Yukon's Active Fuel Management system, which shuts down half of the engine's cylinders under light load, puts the 2007 Yukon at head of the class in the fuel economy competition. Both the 2WD and 4WD Yukons best all of the competition in EPA Highway estimates by as much as four miles per gallon.

In towing, the Yukon's 7700-pound rating beats the Toyota's 6500-pound rating, while Ford and Nissan rate their entries at a maximum of 9100 pounds.

From the driver's seat, much of this is not noticed. Power comes on smoothly, with no surges or hiccups and accompanied by a pleasant, dual exhaust-like tone. Transitions effected by the fuel-management system are invisible, with the only indication a telltale in the information display in the tachometer. The four-speed automatic selects gears with little fanfare. The six-speed automatic in the Yukon Denali is even smoother; the new six-speed automatic also has a manual shift function managed by a rocker switch in the handgrip on the column shift lever.

While trucking along twisty, two-lane roads in Georgia and on coastal California roads, the Yukon tracked flat and smooth through 70-mph sweepers marked with 40-mph advisories. The ride was comfortable and controlled on South Carolina freeways, both glass-smooth and buckled from severe winters. For this, credit the rack and pinion steering, which is new for 2007, that delivers sharper, more precise turn in, along with a stronger and stiffer frame; new, coil-over-shock independent front suspension; revised, multi-link, live axle rear suspension; and a wider track, by some three inches in front and an inch in the rear. The turning circle impressed us. It takes less space to make a U-turn in a Yukon than it does in other SUVs in this class; even some relatively small vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Eclipse need more space to turn around than the new Yukon. This is helpful in a world of big SUVs and compact parking spaces.

We found the brake pedal solid and firm, with a prompt and confident response. The new Yukon's disc brakes are larger than those on the previous-generation model, by almost an inch in front and by more than a half-inch in the rear, with dual-piston calipers that are 50 percent stiffer than before.

Abundant sound deadening material mutes road noise, but wind whistle easily leaks around the multiple door seals. That the stereo has to be on for the navigation system to operate is irritating, a strategy shared with expensive Mercedes vehicles. We like that GM vehicles now provide off switches for the daytime running lights and for the inside rearview mirror's auto-dim function. Summary
The 2007 GMC Yukon has an astonishingly fresh and comfortable interior. Its sleek, new body is mounted on a new, stronger and stiffer frame and there's also a new power steering system, beefed up brakes, new front suspension and re-worked rear suspension. It's easily the best Yukon we've ever driven. With all these improvements, the Yukon is now a strong contender with other full-size SUVs.

[While preparing his report, New Car Test Drive correspondent Tom Lankard drove new Yukon models around Greensboro, Georgia, and Carmel Valley, California.]

Model as tested
GMC Yukon SLE 4WD ($37,615)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Arlington, Texas; Janesville, Wisconsin
Destination charge
875
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
33815
Price as tested
Options as tested
third-row seat ($460); full-coverage curtain airbags ($350); in-dash 6CD changer ($300); XM Satellite Radio with three-month trial subscription ($199); power adjustable pedals ($120); rear park assist ($245); front fog lamps ($140); roof rail cross bars ($45); off-road skid plate ($125)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
GMC Yukon SLE 2WD ($33,815); Yukon SLE 4WD ($37,615); Yukon SLT 2WD ($37,995); Yukon SLT 4WD ($40,795); Yukon Denali ($47,115)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage front airbags; second-row seat child safety seat anchors (LATCH); third-row seat child safety seat tethers; four-wheel antilock brakes with Dynamic Rear Proportioning; Stabilitrak stability control system; tire pressure monitoring system; OnStar emergency notification system with one-year pre-paid subscription
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
5.3-liter V8
Transmissions
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
tri-zone manual climate control; rear seat air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, central locking and heated and folding outside mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3, eight-speaker stereo; leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with redundant audio controls; auto-dimming inside mirror with compass and ambient temperature gauge; roof-mounted luggage rails; driver information center; floor mats; trailer tow package; front tow hooks

Engine & Transmission
Engine
5.3-liter V8
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
320 @ 5200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
15/21
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
independent, coil over gas-pressurized shocks, stabilizer bar
Tires
P265/60R17 on/off-road
Suspension, rear
solid axle, five-link, coil springs, gas-pressurized shocks, stabilizer bar

Accomodations
Seating capacity
6
Head/hip/leg room, middle
39.2/60.6/39
Head/hip/leg room, front
41.1/64.4/44.1
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.9/49.1/25.6

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
108.9
Wheelbase
116.0
Length/width/height
202/79/77
Turning circle
39.0
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
7700
Track, front/rear
68.2/67
Ground clearance
9.0
Curb weight
5537

2007 GMC Yukon XL
Sam Moses

Introduction
The GMC Yukon XL is all new for 2007, and you can't find an SUV that works better as a tow vehicle. It has all the right stuff. The ride is better than ever, handling is steady and light. These are benefits of a new boxed frame for rigidity, a redesigned suspension, a new ring-and-pinion steering system, and other changes.

The driver sits way up high and feels like he or she is master or mistress of his or her domain. The optional leather seats are wonderfully comfortable for long distances. The pedals adjust for long or short legs. The instruments and gauges are finally stylish. There are new halogen headlamps that are bigger for improved visibility at night. Storage space is intelligently designed and all over, including a huge center console.

Those in the second row will find a lot of leg room. Bucket seats with a center console between them are available for the second row, turning them into first-class accommodations; and there is an optional power folding option, making it easier for third-row passengers to climb in. There's even decent legroom and good headroom in the third row, something few SUVs can claim.

The Yukon XL seats six to nine people, depending on the seating configuration. Essentially GMC's version of the Chevy Suburban, the Yukon XL stretches the already long wheelbase of the Yukon another 20 inches. There are many vehicles that seat seven people without taking up so much space to do it, but not quite so comfortably, nor with so much room left over for cargo.

Towing is the other area where the Yukon XL excels. It's a great vehicle for drivers who want an SUV that can tow cars, boats, horses, and travel trailers. A Yukon XL 1500 is rated to tow up to 8200 pounds, while the heavy-duty 2500 version can tow up to 9700 pounds.

The standard 5.3-liter V8 represents a new generation of engines, and it offers excellent horsepower and torque. An optional 6.0-liter V8 for the Yukon delivers more towing power.

And at the top of the line is the Yukon XL Denali. The Denali is almost a separate breed. It has its own engine, a 6.2-liter V8 based on the Corvette's 7.0-liter, making 380 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. It also has its own transmission, a six-speed automatic with manual mode and its own all-wheel-drive system. The Denali comes standard with the AutoRide active electronic suspension, which is optional on the regular Yukon XL.

Deluxe options include a liftgate that raises and lowers under power, a DVD entertainment system, a Bose sound system, a navigation system, and a rearview monitor that improves safety and makes it easier to hook up trailers. Model Lineup
The 2007 GMC Yukon XL comes in basic SLE ($37,665) or SLT ($41,800) trim. It's available as a 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter ton, with truck tires and a heavier suspension using leaf springs), and in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

A choice of V8 engines is available, two of which are versions of the Vortec 5.3-liter V8, and which can run on E85 ethanol. The new generation 5.3 with an aluminum block, the engine in our test SLT, makes 310 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful optional engine ($1095) is an all-aluminum 6.0-liter V8 with variable valve timing, making 366 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque.

The Yukon XL Denali ($49,970) comes with a 6.2-liter V8 making 380 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque, a six-speed automatic with manual mode, all-wheel drive system, and the AutoRide active electronic suspension.

All other Yukon XLs use a four-speed automatic transmission, available in three strengths, depending on whether the XL is 2WD, 4WD, or 2500. They all have a Tow/Haul mode, which reduces upshifting and downshifting, and also shifts quicker, so the transmission doesn't work so hard when pulling a big load. Transmission oil temperature is part of the instrumentation (along with a tire pressure monitor).

The SLE comes standard equipment with cloth interior, six-way power driver's seat, 60/40 second row bench seat, two-passenger third row seat, three-zone climate control, AM/FM/6CD/MP3, rear seat audio and climate controls, power windows and locks with remote entry, cruise control, heated sideview mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, roof rack rails, deep tinted glass, foglamps, and last but definitely not least, a tow package including heavy hitch, seven-pin wiring harness, two-inch receiver and electric brake control harness. Also standard is GM's OnStar system, which, among other things, notifies headquarters if there has been a crash, and someone calls the vehicle and sends help if necessary.

The SLT package ($4135) includes leather interior, 12-way power heated bucket seats in front, power adjustable pedals, remote starter, Bose sound system, XM satellite radio, garage door opener, power folding sideview mirrors, rear parking assist beeper, and roof rack crossbars.

Safety equipment on all models includes dual frontal airbags, four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with electronic proportioning, and StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability program with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control. Full length airbag curtains are optional (standard with SLT), but front side airbags are not available, which is surprising, given the competition and price. The XL earned the maximum five stars in the government's head-on crash tests.

Options include a navigation system ($2145), rear-seat entertainment system ($1295), power sunroof ($995), second-row bucket seats ($490), power release for those seats ($425), power liftgate ($350), rearview camera monitor ($195), three-passenger third-row seat ($100), heated washer fluid system ($85), and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels ($1795). Walkaround
The 2007 GMC Yukon XL should not be confused with the Yukon. The XL stands for Extra Long. Though the same width, the Yukon XL is about 20 inches longer than the Yukon; it's the same length as its near twin, the Chevy Suburban, measuring 18 1/2 feet.

The Suburban and Yukon XL are among the most familiar vehicles on the road. They share styling although not the details. For example, the Yukon has a cleaner air intake below the bumper than the Suburban, a different shape to the headlights, and the grille is not split.

The 2007 redesign makes subtle but effective changes to the exterior, and GM has done an excellent job with the Yukon XL, making this huge vehicle look smooth, if not sleek. The contours are gently shaped. There's nothing in-your-face or edgy about it. Body-colored side moldings and door handles help a lot. Finally, they got rid of the chrome!

The running board is integrated and unobtrusive, extending no farther than necessary, with a black grippy coating. The tinted glass behind the C-pillar is expansive, and looks nice. The front end has been cleaned up, with beefy block-like headlamps over a front bumper fascia that has vastly tighter tolerances with the body. In fact, all the panels are a tighter fit. It's nice to see that GM can produce this kind of quality.

The windshield is more sloped than before, although the tailgate remains vertical. The rear window opens separately, which is convenient. Our SLT had the optional power liftgate, and we're not sure what we would have done without it. At least the liftgate is aluminum, which would reduce the grunting, if not the stretching way up to reach it. The split barn-style doors, handy when trailers are attached, are ancient history, no longer available. Interior
The Yukon XL is comfortable for long tows or major outings. It's a wonderful feeling to drive down the highway in one of these, sitting up high with all the comforts, including the optional Bose sound system.

Completely redesigned for the 2007 model year, the dashboard has been lowered by six inches, and the seats redesigned and raised, with a more convenient and secure seatbelt mounting on the B pillar. They are very comfortable, in leather.

We especially like the touch-screen radio/navigation system, much easier to operate than in so many cars, Mercedes, for example. We set the programs we liked, and could switch from favorite XM to AM to FM stations with one finger push; many vehicles require switching bands, then switching stations.

The switchgear is simple, and the instrumentation is clean. The console is huge (20.1 liters says GM, although we couldn't see 5.3 gallons being poured in there), with a deep storage box and a tray on top. The glovebox is 25 percent larger than the one in pre-2007 models. Two cupholders are provided in a removable tray forward of the console and they work very well. There's another cupholder in each door pocket. A slot in the dash just left of the turn signal is perfect for coins or toll-road tickets. The pedals are adjustable, to accommodate short wives and tall husbands or vice versa.

The rearview camera and monitor is quite useful, although it might take some new skills to fully use. One night we had to back up a narrow winding driveway squeezed by trees, and it could only be done by using the monitor. It was tricky. The backup lights did a great job of lighting the road for the camera; looking over our shoulder, our naked eye couldn't see the road nearly as well. Without this device, we would have been backing-up blind. It's also quite useful for spotting a child playing behind the truck after shifting into reverse or maybe a short, unseen pole. With a little practice, the camera makes parallel parking easier and quicker. It can also be used to help position the tow ball under a trailer hitch, reducing the number of times the driver has to jump out to check distance and alignment.

The Yukon XL can seat six, seven, eight or nine passengers, depending on the seats selected. Our SLT had the second-row bucket seats, with room for seven, in a two/two/three configuration.

The second row offers good legroom, at least with the two bucket seats: 39.4 inches, nearly as much as in the front. Second-row passengers have their own console, with an elbow tray and two cupholders each. They have their own audio controls too, and a front-row seat for the DVD screen that drops down from the headliner, and uses wireless headphones. The second-row bucket seats come with a console between them.

An optional power feature allows folding the second-row seats with the touch of a button on the instrument panel or C-pillar. It's slick: the seatbacks fold flat against the sitting part, and then the seats flip up against the back of the front seats.

The third row seats two or three, depending on the package. Split 60/40, the third-row seats fold and tumble, but don't fold flat into the floor like some competitors. The third-row seats flip up against the back of the second row. This fold-and-tumble feature sacrifices some quick cargo space because the seats don't fold flat, although there's still a lot compared to other SUVs. The third-row seats are also removable.

The third-row seats offer good head room and okay leg room (34.9 inches), and a great view through the wraparound glass, so it's not cramped or claustrophobic as it is in the GMC Envoy XL. But with the optional center seat, all you'll ever fit in the third row are three small kids. The kids on the end have their own cupholders. Their climate control vents are inconveniently located in the headliner over the necks of the second-row passengers, but they can be aimed rearward toward the third-row passengers' knees. The second-row passengers have their own vents in the headliner, over their laps.

Cargo space is where the Yukon XL excels. There's 137.4 cubic feet of storage behind the front seats, with the second row folded and third row removed. Even with all seats in place, there's still 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row.

The lift-over height at the rear bumper is relatively high, so it's not easy to climb up into the cargo compartment to reach things, especially since there are no grab handles. Driving Impressions
Another reason we wished we owned a race car (and others might wish for a travel trailer, a boat, or horses): The Yukon XL is the perfect tow vehicle for buyers who want the security and people capacity of a full-size SUV rather than a pickup.

GM's trusty 5.3-liter Vortec V8, making 310 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, is one of the best V8s around, and when you floor it, it actually feels like it has more horsepower than that, considering the weight of our test vehicle was 5757 pounds. There's a smooth four-speed automatic transmission to go with it, and with all that torque, a fifth speed in the transmission might not be needed, although the big Japanese V8 SUVs all have five-speed automatic transmissions.

If you need more power for towing, you can upgrade to the 2500 (three-quarter ton) chassis and/or the 6.0-liter engine, to get 380 pound-feet of torque. Or the Denali XL, with that Corvette-based 6.2-liter engine making 380 hp and 417 pound-feet.

There's a badge on the rear of the vehicle that says "FlexFuel," meaning the engine can run on either unleaded regular fuel, or E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline), which burns cleaner and reduces oil consumption.

Active Fuel Management shuts down four of the eight cylinders when they're not needed to save fuel. But there's one big catch: all the cylinders are needed virtually all time, unless you're totally off the throttle, in which case they all basically shut down anyhow. So the amount of fuel saved is questionable and debatable.

Fuel economy is an EPA City/Highway-rated 15/21 miles per gallon. We drove nearly 300 miles in a 2WD Yukon XL in an even split between around town and running 75 mph on the freeway, and averaged 15.8 mpg.

Ride quality is excellent, overall. The suspension seems much improved over undulating roads; wallowing under duress has been a weakness of Yukons and Suburbans in the past. The new fully boxed frame is 49 percent stiffer and 35 percent more resistant to twisting. The front track has been widened by three inches, and the rear by one inch. A new coil-over-shock front suspension, and revised and strengthened five-link rear suspension around a solid rear axle (better for towing) work well with new rack-and-pinion steering.

AutoRide, the optional self-leveling suspension, is a high-tech, active suspension, meaning it electronically adjusts to the road, as read by sensors. It reduces body lean in corners and nose dive under hard braking.

Driving in an estimated 25-mph crosswind on the freeway at 75 miles per hour, our Yukon XL swayed all over the road, because of the billboard-like surface area of the side of the vehicle.

The brakes have gotten a much-needed upgrade. The vented rotors are bigger (13 inches in front and 13.5 inches rear) and the dual piston calipers are stiffer. This adds up to security and safety when you're trying to get stopped with a boat or trailer pushing you from behind. Brakes on these new GM trucks are far better than they were a decade or so ago. Summary
The Yukon XL/Suburban has long been the tow vehicle of choice, and this redesign enables it to maintain its position on top. The latest version 5.3-liter Vortec V8 makes plenty of horsepower and torque for towing, and two more powerful engines are available. The suspension and brakes are considerably improved, the instrumentation is finally worthy, and it's hard to fault the SLT's leather interior, especially the comfort of the seating in all three rows. We do wonder why there are no available side-impact airbags in front, however.

Sam Moses filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River Valley.

Model as tested
GMC Yukon XL 1500 2WD ($37,665)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Janesville, Wisconsin; Silao, Mexico
Destination charge
900
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
37665
Price as tested
50150
Options as tested
SLT-2 package ($4135) including leather interior, front power heated seats, adjustable pedals, full length curtain airbags, remote starting, 6-disc CD changer; XM satellite radio; Bose premium sound system; universal home remote; rear parking assist; roof rack crossbars; navigation radio with CD/DVD/MP3 ($2145); 20-inch polished aluminum wheels ($1795); DVD entertainment system ($1295); power sliding sunroof ($995); second-row bucket seats ($490); power control to fold second-row seats ($4250); power liftgate with lift glass ($350); rearview camera system ($195); third-row center seat ($100); heated washer fluid ($85); package discount (-$400)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
GMC Yukon XL SLE 2WD ($37,270), 4WD ($40,070); SLT 2WD ($38,055), 4WD ($40,845); Denali ($49,970); 2500 SLE ($38,470), 2500 SLE 4WD ($41,270); 2500 SLT ($39,215), 2500 SLT 4WD ($42,015)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual frontal airbags, ABS with electronic proportioning, electronic stability program with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control (StabiliTrak)
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
5.3-liter 16-valve V8
Transmissions
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
tri-zone climate control, power windows, power locks, cruise control, message center, trip computer, deep tinted glass, foglamps, heated mirrors, tow package, 17-inch aluminum wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
5.3-liter 16-valve V8
Drivetrain type
rear-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
310 @ 5200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
15/21
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented disc/disc with ABS and electronic brake proportioning
Suspension, front
independent
Tires
Suspension, rear
solid axle, five-link, coil springs

Accomodations
Seating capacity
7
Head/hip/leg room, middle
38.5/61.8/39.5
Head/hip/leg room, front
41.1/64.4/41.3
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.1/49.4/34.9

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
137.4
Wheelbase
130.0
Length/width/height
222.4/79.1/76.8
Turning circle
43.0
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
8200
Track, front/rear
68.2/67.0
Ground clearance
8.9
Curb weight
5757


Vehicle History Report


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