The next-generation of premium full-size SUV has arrived.
Just as 2019 was ending, Chevrolet released the next-generation Tahoe and Suburban. When that happened, we knew it wouldn't be long until GMC revealed its versions of its full-size SUV family. And at a private event in Colorado, they have finally arrived. Introducing the 2021 GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL, which will include a luxurious Denali trim and an all-new AT4 off-road trim.
"GMC Yukon is the full-size premium SUV that's made to be used," said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. "The new Yukon delivers what customers value most - premium features, purposeful technology, and all-terrain capability."
Right off the bat, we prefer the Yukon's styling to the Tahoe and Suburban, especially the blinged-out Denali version. Like its Chevy counterparts, the all-new Yukon has been heavily updated with a new lineup of engines, more interior space, and improved underpinnings.
GMC will offer the same three engine choices found under the hood of the Tahoe and Suburban - a 355 horsepower 5.3-liter V8, a 420 horsepower 6.2-liter V8, and a new 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel engine delivering 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. All three engines are paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, GMC says the Duramax diesel will be the most fuel-efficient full-size SUV on the market.
Expanding from the regular trim levels, the 2021 Yukon will be available this time around with two premium packages. The Denali trim, which originated in 1999, now boasts an exclusive interior from the rest of the lineup. The unique cabin includes a new instrument panel, unique seats, and a choice of four color themes with wood trim and hand-stitched leather. The 2021 Yukon Denali also includes premium features like a surround-view camera, 15-inch head-up display, rear pedestrian alert, Magnetic Ride Control, and available options such as 22-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, and Active Response 4WDTM System.
Based on previous data, about 60 percent of Yukon buyers opt for the Denali trim, so we expect they will be thrilled with these new features, and GM will likely be thrilled when customers shell out beaucoup bucks to park them in the garage.
What's more, buyers who desire more of an off-road focus with their luxury can opt for the first-ever Yukon AT4. The AT4 sub-brand was created as a luxurious approach to off-road capability and it now extends to the Yukon. This trim level can be distinguished via its unique front fascia, dark accents, red recovery hooks, and available four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, which can raise up for an additional two inches of ground clearance.
GMC has thrown in off-road-oriented features such as a two-speed transfer case, 20-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires, Traction Select System, Hill Descent Control, and skid plates. The AT4 doesn't skimp on luxury either with AT4-exclusive leather, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row outboard seats.
Denali, AT4, and SLT trims will introduce an optional Power Sliding Center Console between the driver and passenger seat. GMC says the console can slide backward by up to 10 inches, giving access for a huge open space that's large enough to easily accommodate a small bag, such as a purse.
Inside, passenger and cargo space has grown considerably over the last-generation 2020 GMC Yukon. By raw numbers, the 2021 Yukon is 6.1 inches longer with a five-inch longer wheelbase than before, resulting in 41 percent more third-row legroom and 66 percent more cargo volume behind the third row. These massive gains can also be attributed to the implementation of an independent rear suspension system. Not only will the new GMC Yukon ride and handle better than ever before, but the removal of a live rear axle allowed for the third row and cargo area to expand downward, yielding amazing returns in legroom and storage space.
The Yukon XL has also been given a 4.1-inch increase in wheelbase, giving it a 23 percent increase in total cargo capacity. GMC says both versions have flatter loading floor for easier cargo access and access to the third row is easier than ever thanks to new sliding second-row seats.
The 2021 Yukon and Yukon XL go on sale this summer with production set to begin at GM's Arlington, Texas assembly plant where the Tahoe and Suburban are also built. Pricing and full trim breakdowns should be revealed closer to the on-sale date.