Introducing the 2019 GMC Yukon

This full-sized SUV has a variety of different packages, from the baseline GMC Yukon to the top-of-the-line luxury Denali designation.  The Yukon debuted in 1999 to offer a less-pricey option to the Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. While the baseline Yukon took off nicely, the extended luxury package Denali version also sells well, accounting for 40 percent of Yukon sales. The 2019 model of the Yukon has some modest modifications from the 2018 version, but car enthusiasts are awaiting the unveiling of the fifth generation, debuting in 2020, to see significant changes.


What are the Safety Features of the Yukon

Standard safety features on all Yukon models include bucket seating with front airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. In the front seat is a console airbag, designed to prevent the driver and front passenger from colliding in an accident. While the baseline safety features stop here, the SLT and Denali also offer sensory safety features, such as automatic cruise control adjusting speed to match vehicles ahead, and blind spot and collision monitors. Lane-adjustment sensors, alerting a drifting driver, are also part of the upgraded packages. These leading-edge safety alerts use a combination of radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors to give the driver the most complete awareness of their surroundings. Teen Driver settings for the Yukon, as well as an enhanced anti-theft and tracing system, provide an added layer of protection for those who need it.


How does Yukon Reliability Measure Up?

According to J.D. Power ratings, the Yukon scores about average in terms of reliability. Preventative maintenance can go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary repairs, but the Yukon hasn't been noted for its longevity on the roads. Consumer Reports also places the Yukon squarely in the middle for reliability for the last few model years. GMC only offers a 3 year, 36,000-mile warranty on new a Yukon, with a five year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty. There have been no safety recalls on the more recent model years of the Yukon.


How Does the Yukon Perform?

The standard edition is equipped with a 5.3L V-8 engine that produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. This looks powerful - and it is - but considering the size of the Yukon, there's a reason that many reviewers, both owners, and experts, report the pick-up of the baseline Yukon as sluggish. The six-speed automatic can hesitate a bit on steep inclines, although the Denali edition, with a 6.2L V-8 EcoTec3 Engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, performs better. The extra power in the Denali engine gives the SUV quicker acceleration and higher towing capacity, but the price difference between the two is substantial. The ride and handling of the standard Yukon aren't the best, with a higher suspension and a bit of unwieldy maneuverability around corners and tight switchbacks. The Denali is built with a Magnetic Ride Control suspension which alleviates some of the wobbliness and gives a smoother, more even ride.


What is the Fuel Efficiency of the Yukon?

Neither the Yukon nor the Denali gets very good gas mileage, although both SUVs can boost fuel efficiency a little on longer drives by engaging the 4-cylinder mode of the engines. Trademarked as Active Fuel Management by GMC Motors, this feature turns off some of the active cylinders in the engine and results in a 5 to 7 percent increase in fuel efficiency. This lessens the acceleration but doesn't affect the overall performance or safety of the vehicle. The Denali averages 14 mpg for city driving and 23 on the highway, while the standard Yukon will get about 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway.


The Yukon Driving Experience

Ease and function are the hallmarks of the 2019 models. Hands-free lift for the trunk and keyless entry are convenient features to get in the Yukon, although the high loading profile may make it difficult for smaller or less mobile passengers to enter and exit comfortably. Rainsense front wipers and a hidden back wiper make driving in inclement weather easier, while the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel makes gripping it in uncertain conditions more reassuring. Those moving from a small car to the Yukon will need a bit of adjustment, as it may drive a bit unwieldy and feel large on the road. Options such as Destination Download, Concierge Service, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Roadside Assistance, and Hands-Free Calling make the driving experience both safer and more enjoyable. The Yukon is compatible with Andriod Auto and Apple CarPlay, allowing favorite music and podcasts to transmit over crystal clear, well-balanced surround speakers.


What is the Passenger and Storage Capacity of the Yukon?

Both the Yukon and the Denali come standard with third-row seating that can be folded down to provide additional trunk space. The second row seats three and the third row two, although the last row is a bit cramped. Both driver and front passenger have heated leather seats, and the rest of the passenger seats are well-cushioned leather as well, with optional heating. Center consoles in the rear fold down and the front area has several drop-down storage consoles. The rear seats have drink holders and larger storage pockets. Inside the trunk, space without the third-row measures about 16 cubic feet. Once the third row is stowed, storage space increases to over 90 cubic feet. Sporting equipment and larger purchases should fit comfortably, as the interior roof of the Yukon is higher than other SUV models.


Exterior Features and Body Design

The Yukon has distinctive GMS style headlights, equipped with a bright-adjustment for safety. The body design is large and boxy, although the 2019 models have streamlined the edges, the Denali more noticeably. Tinted windows are an option, and the vehicles come mostly in neutral colors, except for a deep maroon. The sporty look of the Denali continues with heavy accents of chrome and option chrome wheels, giving it a more fun, less SWAT Team look - although the oversized rectangular grille is a bit menacing. Overall, the Yukon looks sleek and robust, which, at price tags starting around $50,000, it should.

Get the latest vehicle news, advice & deals.