2019 GMC Yukon

2019 GMC Yukon Review: You Can't Miss It

by Jared Rosenholtz

GMC's luxury-car aspirations have always been the defining characteristic that sets its offerings apart from similar vehicles within General Motor's other product ranges. The Yukon is no different, bringing a more premium offering to the large SUV segment, where it competes with parent-company siblings like the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and Ford's Expedition. With plenty of choices in the range, there is a Yukon for a variety of tastes, but with compromised third-row seating and a hefty price tag, the GMC bling-mobile is more of a status symbol than an economically-motivated buy. Buyers have a choice of either a 5.3-liter 355-horsepower V8 with 383 lb-ft of torque or a Corvette-derived 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft is available. The smaller motor is paired with a six-speed auto to moderate success, but the bigger engine with its 10-speed auto is more versatile. Either option sends power to the rear wheels, with all-wheel-drive optional.

2019 GMC Yukon Changes: πŸš™What’s the difference vs 2018 Yukon?

Not much has been altered from 2018's offerings, besides the addition of three new paint colors and two new SLT Standard and SLT-specific packages. The Graphite Edition package throws massive 22-inch wheels on the SUV and adds black accents to the exterior styling while also updating the suspension, while the Graphite Performance Edition package specs the model with upgraded transmission, engine, and suspension components from the top-tier Denali trim, also adding a head-up display, navigation, and an eight-inch driver info display.

Pros and Cons

  • Maximum seating configuration can squeeze nine people in
  • Quiet interior
  • Roomy interior
  • Decent infotainment
  • Characterful V8
  • Identical interior layout to cheaper Chevy Tahoe
  • Cramped third row
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Sluggish standard engine and gearbox
  • Safety features almost entirely optional, and expensive

Yukon Exterior

The Yukon's exterior follows the tried and tested formula of jazzing up a basic design with plenty of chrome and a massive grille to imply style and power. LED daytime running rights are included, as are chrome-framed foglights, but xenon headlights are only available on the top Denali trim. Towards the rear, a large wraparound-style rear window makes the Yukon more airy-looking, but also adds to the perception of its already considerable length. 18-inch wheels are standard, with 20-inch wheels bestowed upon the top trim and various optional 22s available, too.

2019 GMC Yukon Front View GMC
2019 GMC Yukon Rear View GMC
2019 GMC Yukon Front View 1 GMC
See All 2019 GMC Yukon Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Yukon is a massive hulk of a thing, measuring 203.9 inches from end to end. Width is greater than even the technological hypercar marvel that is the Bugatti Chiron, measuring 80.5 inches. Height is similarly imposing, at 74.4 inches, while ground clearance measures an impressive eight inches on the dot. 15.3 degrees of approach angle and a departure angle of 23.2 degrees mean that you could conceivably take the Yukon off-road without too much concern for the undercarriage. Curb weight for the base RWD model starts at 5,395 lbs and goes all the way to 5,626 lbs in the AWD configurations of the upper-level trims.

Exterior Colors

2019's palette earns three new colors, namely Dark Sky, Pepperdust, and Smokey Quartz, each of which costs $495. Other optional colors include Dark Sapphire Blue, Satin Steel, and Quicksilver, all for the same price. $595 gets you Crimson Red Tintcoat, while Summit White and Onyx Black are no-cost options. White Frost Tricoat is the SLT's most expensive choice at $1,095 and is also available on the Denali.

Yukon Performance

The Yukon is available in four different trims, the two lowest of which are fitted with a 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft. This engine is paired with a six-speed auto and sends power to the rear wheels, with all-wheel-drive optional. The mid-range SLT is available with the same setup, or the 6.2-liter V8 that is standard on the top-trim. This engine generates 420 hp and 460 lb-ft and is mated with a 10-speed automatic. The 5.3-liter V8 is adequate for most daily duties, cruising without too much lethargy, but it is never hurried either; its slow-shifting transmission simply magnifies its power deficit. The 6.2-liter V8 improves this considerably, but that's compared to a poor base point, and the Yukon won't blow anyone's hair back. Rear-wheel-drive variants of the SUV can tow up to 8,500 lbs when properly equipped, while heavier AWD versions can manage up to 8,200 lbs. These are both about average figures for the segment, with the similar Chevrolet Tahoe pulling up to 8,600 lbs and the superior Ford Expedition towing up to 9,000 lbs.

2019 GMC Yukon In Motion GMC

Engine and Transmission

The Yukon's base engine and gearbox, a 5.3-liter V8 paired with a six-speed auto, are both lethargic and uninspiring choices for the SUV. Developing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft is not enough to easily overcome a curb weight of over 5,000 lbs, so although the engine rarely struggles to get the vehicle moving, it goes about it at a very tranquil pace. The available 6.2-liter V8 sourced from a Corvette helps alleviate this considerably, its 420 hp and 460 lb-ft working with the 10-speed automatic very well and even returning similar economy figures to those of the smaller engine. However, acceleration is still slightly labored, and gaps in traffic have to be well-measured and their use timed to perfection to prevent a sudden end to overtaking maneuvers. Thanks to the abundant ratios, cruising is quiet and smooth, with a calm and laid back nature that can be relaxing if you're not in a hurry to get somewhere. If you have the money, its best to jump straight to a trim that has this engine and transmission combination available, namely the SLT. Trying to justify the weaker engine will lead to frustration on uphills and when taking off from the lights.

  • Engines
    5.3-liter V8 Gas, 6.2-liter V8, 6.2-liter V8 Gas
  • Transmissions
    10-Speed Automatic, 6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Thanks to its massive curb weight, the Yukon stays relatively well planted around corners and never feels like too much of a bus. Bumps big and small are barely a blip on the bulky SUV's radar, and despite slow steering, the chassis responds relatively well to sudden direction changes, remaining composed at all times. Cruising in a straight line is similarly relaxing, with elevation changes and expansion joints not upsetting the ride in the least. The top trim in the range, the Denali, is fitted with Magnetic Ride Control, an adaptive suspension damping system that can firm the ride for better handling and response. However, rather than improving the overall capabilities of the large SUV, this feature takes away from the single most important thing in a luxury vehicle: comfort. The system stiffens the ride too much and makes bumps a little more crashy, something that should be near impossible in a vehicle this heavy. The standard chassis and suspension combo are better to live with by far. When it comes to braking, things are similarly average, with a neither reassuring nor alarming rate of deceleration. Pedal feel is okay, with a fraction more travel than we'd like, but overall, not bad enough to concern most drivers. An optional and switchable 4x4 to 4x2 all-wheel-drive system is available for more difficult terrain. On the base model, this comes with either a single-speed or a two-speed transfer case, although 6.2-liter V8 models get the two-speed and its low-range gearing as standard. The system is capable, slowly hauling the Yukon up icy roads and muddy trails, but not especially impressive. Unless a necessity, we'd stick with the lighter rear-wheel-drive option.

Yukon Gas Mileage

Gas mileage on the Yukon varies very slightly throughout the range depending on the engine and driven wheels. The base RWD 5.3-liter V8 will return 15/22/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, faring only one mpg worse on the highway and mixed cycles when four-wheel-drive is added. This gives it an approximate average range of around 442-468 miles per fill-up of the 26-gallon gas tank, which is fitted to all Yukon models. 6.2-liter V8 models score a similar 442-mile range, with figures of 14/23/17 mpg and 14/22/17 mpg on RWD and AWD variants respectively.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    26.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 15/22 mpg
* 2019 GMC Yukon SLE 2WD

Yukon Interior

As with other premium GM brands, much of the Yukon's interior fittings, like the infotainment system, the tri-zone climate control switches, and the window switches, are easily recognizable as victims of a parts-bin raid conducted on lesser models, just with supposedly more premium materials surrounding them in unique colors. Build quality is acceptable, with most features in a user-friendly layout, and the eight-inch touchscreen system provides quick responses to inputs. The Yukon includes a power-adjustable driver's seat as standard, with heated and cooled front seats and heated second-row seats available. A head-up display is also available on the top trim.

See All 2019 GMC Yukon Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Yukon is available with a front bench, which expands maximum available seating capacity to nine. Alternatively, the second row can be converted to a pair of bucket seats, reducing capacity to seven, or things can be left as they come from the factory, with space for eight. However, that third row can be more than a little restrictive for adults, and we'd recommend only cramming small children in these seats. The middle row is more accommodating for both headroom and legroom, with front seating similarly spacious - taller occupants won't complain on extended trips. A commanding driving position and great all-round views make the Yukon easier to navigate, although its size still makes parking a challenge.

  • Seating capacity
    8-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Base SLE Yukons are trimmed in premium cloth upholstery in either jet black or a contrasting dark brown and tan combination, with wood inserts and aluminum-look plastic accents sparingly used on the center console, doors, and dash. Opting for the SLT Standard Edition or SLT gets the same colors with leather in place of cloth, with contrasting perforated leather and a different grain of wood available only on the top Denali trim. This premium leather is available in Jet Black, Cocoa & Shale, or Cocoa and Dark Atmosphere coloring. This top trim also gets bronzed fake alloy in place of the silver plastic on lower trims.

Yukon Trunk and Cargo Space

The Yukon's cargo space is disappointing for a large SUV. Yes, you can fit four large suitcases behind the third row, but which SUV of this size can't? In numbers, the Yukon fits 15.3/51.7/94.7 cubic feet behind the third/second/first rows, which is not bad - you could easily stow a pair of mountain bikes in the back and still have space for luggage for two - but while the almost identical Chevrolet Tahoe matches these figures, the real competition comes from the Ford Expedition, which has 20.9 cubes of space behind the third row, and 63.6 behind the second. With all the seats out of the way, the Ford has a whopping 104.6 cubic feet of volume, leaving the GMC trailing far behind.

In the cabin, things are a little better than the Yukon's typically average performance up to this point. Six cup holders, plus a few more moldings for bottles are dotted around the cabin. A nifty unit hides behind the moveable infotainment screen, offering space for your phone, while the center armrest in the front is deep enough to store books upright. Numerous other little trays and cubbies are scattered conveniently, where you would need them.

2019 GMC Yukon Maximum Cargo Space GMC
2019 GMC Yukon Front View 2 GMC
2019 GMC Yukon Front View Driving GMC

Yukon Infotainment and Features

Features

The Yukon is poorly equipped with driver aids in base format, offering little more than hill-start assist, park sensors in front and at the back, and a rearview camera. Forward collision warning with low-speed auto braking, auto high beams, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring are optional, as is a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display. Heated and ventilated seats are also not standard, and neither is the power liftgate. However, the Yukon does include basic features like keyless entry with remote start, heated mirrors, and auto wipers. Regular, non-adaptive cruise control and three-zone automatic climate control are included. For a supposed luxury vehicle, the base version of the Yukon is woefully shortchanged in the standard features department.

Infotainment

The Yukon's infotainment system is a responsive and easy-to-use eight-inch touch system, with nine Bose speakers as standard. A CD player, satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity through Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are all standards, with five USB ports and OnStar WiFi hot-spotting also included. Navigation, however, is only standard on the top trim, or as part of the SLT's Graphite Performance Edition package. Second-row DVD players are available at an extra cost of just under $2,000. The Denali range-topper also gets an extra Bose speaker, bringing the count to ten, with a wireless charging pad thrown in, presumably in a feeble attempt to justify the starting price of almost $70k.

Yukon Problems and Reliability

The Yukon has a reliability rating of 79/100 from J.D. Power and has one recall in this guise for a software error that may cause unintended braking. Additionally, if you are considering the extra space of the XL variant (reviewed separately), this model was also subject to a September 2018 recall for a rear seatbelt retractor that would not lock.

In terms of the warranty, GMC offers three years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain and drivetrain coverage. Roadside assistance is also included for the latter period, and one free scheduled maintenance visit is included in the first year of ownership.

Yukon Safety

The IIHS has not yet performed any crash testing on any recent Yukon model year, but the NHTSA has, scoring the 2019 model four stars out of five for overall crashworthiness, with five stars allocate to side crash tests, and only three for rollover evaluations.

Key Safety Features

As standard, the Yukon features hill-start assist and park sensors as driver aids. If you're waiting for more standard equipment and safety features, the base SLE Yukon will disappoint, being about as well-equipped as Robinson Crusoe's raft. Speccing the Enhanced Driver Alert package goes a short way to remedying the situation, adding forward-collision warning with city-speed automatic braking, lane-keep assist, and auto high beams. The SLT (not the SLT Standard Edition - that's only slightly safer than shark-diving in a plastic cage) features blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, while the top Denali trim has access to adaptive cruise, which again, Scrooge makes you pay extra for.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2019 GMC Yukon a good SUV?

If you are hell-bent on convincing your neighbors that you have no idea what you're doing when it comes to buying a family car, the GMC Yukon is worth your time. The gas-guzzling barebones luxury wannabe will do wonders for your image as an incompetent brand-loyalist who can't be bothered to spend his or her money on a capable vehicle. If you don't need a huge amount of space, a different class of SUV - or at least the cheaper and almost identical Chevrolet Tahoe that starts below $50,000 - makes far more sense. The interior is laid out the same, and the same engines are available. If you do want to seat more than five people without having the rearmost occupants impersonate sardines in a tin can, the Ford Expedition is a far better option and gets better gas mileage, with figures as good as 17/24/20 mpg. Maximum towing capacity in the Ford is also 9,000 lbs versus the GMCs best, at 8,500 lbs. Ultimately, the abundantly average Yukon has some admirable qualities, but we just can't think of any of them right now. We doubt that we will tomorrow either.

🚘What's the Price of the 2019 GMC Yukon?

The Yukon is subject to GMC's $1,295 destination charge on all trims, which must be added to the starting price. The base 5.3-liter V8 SLE's list price is $49,600 in rear-wheel-drive format, including the six-speed auto that comes with this engine. The SLT Standard Edition is priced at $54,800, while the SLT goes for $57,600. Choosing the available 6.2-liter V8 on the SLT adds four gears to the automatic slushbox and $9,065 to the asking price. The top-tier Denali gets the bigger engine as standard and costs at least $66,700. If you want all-wheel drive on any of the trims, allocate an extra $3,000 to your budget. Fully loaded with options like an upgraded exhaust, rear-seat DVD players, and more will send the price to the dark side of 75 grand.

2019 GMC Yukon Models

The GMC Yukon is available in four trims: The SLE, the SLT Standard Edition, the SLT, and the Denali.

The SLE is fitted with a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft and six-speed automatic. Power is sent to the rear wheels as standard, with all-wheel-drive optional. This model features fabric upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and fog lights. Side-steps make access easier, while roof rails add utility. Comfort and convenience features include park sensors in the front and rear, automatic wipers, cruise control, keyless entry with remote start, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and three-zone climate control. An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration through the traditional Apple and Android systems, satellite radio, and a Bose nine-speaker audio setup are standard. A power liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, and forward-collision warning with low-speed autonomous braking are optional. Auto high beams and lane-keep assist can also be added.

The SLT Standard Edition uses the same powertrain and drivetrain setup, but upgrades interior upholstery to leather, adds driver's seat memory functions and passenger power adjustability; it also gets the SLE's optional features and heated front seats.

The SLT's leather is perforated with the front seats gaining ventilation and the second row earning heating. A heated and power-adjustable steering wheel is also added along with a hands-free rear liftgate and power-folding second- and third-row seats. This model also has access to the optional 6.2-liter V8 developing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft, and its accompanying 10-speed auto. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard, while a head-up display and navigation are optional, as well as the top trim's upgraded suspension and eight-inch driver info display. Wireless charging, second-row captain's chairs, and a Bose 10-speaker audio upgrade are included, with a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and power-retractable side-steps as optional.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SLE
5.3-liter V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$49,600
SLT Standard Edition
5.3-liter V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$54,800
SLT
5.3-liter V8 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$57,600
Denali
6.2-liter V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$66,700
See All 2019 GMC Yukon Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The base SLE's available Enhanced Driver Alert package is worth considering for additional peace of mind behind the wheel of this roadgoing freight train. It adds $545 to the price and GM's Safety Alert Seat that vibrates when drowsiness or otherwise distracted behavior is detected. Also included are auto high beams, lane-keep assist, and forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic braking.

The $730 Convenience Package is another decent upgrade, adding a power liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, a universal garage opener, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A heavy-duty Trailering Package can also be had on all but the Denali for $580, to add a premium smooth ride suspension with air leveler, a 3.42 rear axle ratio, integrated trailer brake controller, and - on 4WD models - includes a two-speed active transfer case.

For those wanting a loaded Yukon, the Denali trim is available with the Denali Ultimate package, adding a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-Ray compatibility, a power sunroof, power-retractable side-steps, adaptive cruise control, and Midnight Silver 22-inch wheels at a price of $7,055.

πŸš—What GMC Yukon Model Should I Buy?

If you are utterly set on ruining your finances for no good reason by purchasing a Yukon, the 6.2 V8 SLT with the Graphite Performance Edition package is not the worst way to do it. This will give you 22-inch wheels, a number of black accents, a trailer brake controller, navigation, adaptive suspension, a head-up display, and an eight-inch driver information screen. The SLT requires this package to be added in order for the bigger engine to be specced and is the cheapest entry into ownership thereof. Including destination fees, the total cost of this Yukon will be just shy of $68,000 before any incentives or taxes are applied.

Check out other GMC Yukon Styles

2019 GMC Yukon Comparisons

Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet
Ford Expedition Ford

2019 GMC Yukon vs Chevrolet Tahoe

The same vehicle in a different outfit, the Tahoe shares the Yukon's high and low points, but interestingly, despite identical powertrains and basic architecture, the Chevrolet has a better reliability rating than the GMC. In terms of interiors, the Yukon scores a point back for its higher-end materials and richer interior color options, as well as the standard Bose sound system that has three more speakers than the six found in the Tahoe - but this comes at a premium, with the GMC SUV starting at almost $2,000 more than the Chevy. The Chevy can also tow 100 pounds more, at 8,600 lbs, which is more of a bonus than an outright reason to buy the Tahoe. In terms of storage, available safety equipment, gas mileage, power, and cabin space and features, both SUVs are closely matched. The top-spec Tahoe Premier 4WD is just as good as the Yukon Denali, offering the same sound system, adaptive suspension, ventilated front seats, and navigation, but for four grand less, starting at $65,700. The Tahoe's badge just doesn't justify the extra cash.

See Chevrolet Tahoe Review

2019 GMC Yukon vs Ford Expedition

If a large SUV is what you need, the Ford Expedition is worth considering. A more efficient vehicle, the Expedition scores two mpg more in 3.5-liter turbo V6 base form than the Yukon, which manages 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the freeway - this despite a 20 hp deficit to the base Explorer's 375 hp. In top trim, the Yukon makes 420 hp, 20 more than the Ford, but the Expedition one-ups it in with 20 lb-ft more at 480. Cargo volume is also greater in the Ford, where 20.9 cubes are available behind the third row compared to the GMC's 15.3. Ford's idea of a top-trim interior also looks arguably better, with quilted leather on the door cards and a generally more polished appearance over the Yukon's parts-bin special. Rear-seat occupants in the Expedition also have more space, allowing adults to be accommodated comfortably while the Yukon is confining. In base spec, the Ford also starts over $1,000 cheaper. The Expedition just seems to be thought out and executed far better in every way.

See Ford Expedition Review

GMC Yukon Popular Comparisons

$49,600 - $69,700
Price Range (MSRP)
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