2021 GMC Yukon XL First Look Review: Big Size, Big Luxury

First Look / 8 Comments

Go anywhere in style and comfort.

Alongside its regular-length sibling, the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon XL is officially here. How does it differ from the GMC Yukon SUV? Both its body and wheelbase have been lengthened. Think of the new Yukon XL as a more premium version of the also newly redesigned Chevrolet Suburban. There is also an extended-length version of the Cadillac Escalade, the Cadillac Escalade ESV. Sometimes a regular-length SUV simply does not meet some customers' passenger and cargo requirements, and GM has been more than happy to accommodate for years now. The completely redesigned 2021 Yukon XL, however, is not only more luxurious than any of its predecessors, but also promises better handling and a more refined ride to make it less truck-like.

Question is, did GMC designers do enough to make the new Yukon XL stand out from the also impressive redesigned Suburban? Like always, the answers can be found in the fine details.

2021 GMC Yukon XL Front Angle View GMC
2021 GMC Yukon XL Side View GMC/Jim Fets Photography

Bold And Lengthened Exterior

Picture the 2021 GMC Yukon from the side. Then add an extra 13.2 inches to the wheelbase and 15.2 inches to the length. The result is the 2021 Yukon XL. But like the standard-length Yukon, the Yukon XL has also been given GMC's bold new grille design, flanked by standard LED headlights. The taillight design is also the same as the regular Yukon's, and we're by no means complaining.

Depending on the chosen trim level, some styling elements will differ. For example, the SLT, AT4, and Denali trims all have unique styling traits. The AT4, part of GMC's new off-road-focused sub-brand of the same name, will feature a unique front fascia, dark accents, and red recovery hooks. The Yukon XL Denali has a bold and somewhat in-your-face grille design along with a lot of chrome trim throughout. GMC's goal was to give each Yukon XL trim a personality all its own, and it appears to have succeeded.

All 2021 Yukon XLs also receive new wheel designs and, again according to trim, a range of sizes from 20- to 22-inches.

GMC/Steve Fecht
2021 GMC Yukon XL Rim GMC
2021 GMC Yukon XL Exhaust GMC

There's How Much Room Inside!?

The main reason for the GMC Yukon XL's existence is to offer greater interior space, and it does so wonderfully. Not only does it offer best-in-class maximum cargo room of 144.7 cubic feet, but there's a total of 36.7-inches of third-row leg room. The regular Yukon, to compare, offers 122.9-inches of cargo space and 34.9-inches of legroom. Thanks to the Yukon XL receiving that longer wheelbase, it offers 23 percent more total cargo capacity. Impressive.

Both Yukon body styles have flatter loading floors and easier cargo and third-row access thanks to new sliding second-row seats.

The dashboard design is identical to that of the Yukon. The top-of-the-line Denali trim, once again, has its own unique dash styling separate from the rest of the lineup. The SLT, AT4, and Denali trims can all be equipped with the new Power Sliding Center Console, a storage area placed in between the driver and front passenger seats that can also slide back up to 10 inches. There's even a hidden drawer located underneath the main storage bin.

2021 GMC Yukon XL Dashboard GMC/Jim Fets Photography
2021 GMC Yukon XL Backup Camera Screen GMC

Engines, Off-Roading, And Safety

Because the Yukon XL is the corporate cousin of the Chevrolet Suburban, it will offer identical engine options. Same goes for the relationship between the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The Yukon XL's standard engine is a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower. A 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp is optional, as is a new 3.0-liter inline-six turbo diesel with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All engines are paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. For now, GMC has not released official performance times.

If off-roading is your passion, then consider the AT4 trim. It comes with a two-speed transfer case, 20-inch all-terrain tires, a Traction Select System with off-road mode, Hill Descent Control, and, of course, skid plates. There's also a four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension that raises the SUV up to an extra two inches of ground clearance to help avoid those rocks. GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control damper system is an option.

The automaker has also included several standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking. A rear camera mirror and an HD surround vision camera are optional.


Pricing And Competition

The 2021 GMC Yukon XL competes in a small but competitive class of extended-length full-size SUVs. Aside from its GM corporate cousins, the new Yukon XL will directly face off against the Ford Expedition Max and Lincoln Navigator L. Other full-size SUV competitors, such as the Nissan Armada and its luxury counterpart, the Infiniti QX80, do not offer extended-length versions.

GMC has not announced official pricing, though that should come when full trim details arrive. Expect its base price to start a bit higher than the current model's $53,400 MSRP. A fully-loaded Yukon XL Denali could easily reach around $100,000.

Like the outgoing model, the new GMC Yukon XL will be built at GM's Arlington, Texas manufacturing facility, alongside the Chevy Suburban. Sales will get underway this summer.

GMC/Steve Fecht
2021 GMC Yukon XL Steering Wheel Details GMC
2021 GMC Yukon XL Central Console GMC
2021 GMC Yukon XL Seat Details GMC/Jim Fets Photography
2021 GMC Yukon XL Seat Details GMC/Jim Fets Photography

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2021 GMC Yukon XL Dashboard
2021 GMC Yukon XL Steering Wheel Details
2021 GMC Yukon XL Seat Details
2021 GMC Yukon XL Seat Details
2021 GMC Yukon XL Backup Camera Screen

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