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2011 GMC Yukon Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 GMC Yukon Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.3

When it comes to performance, reviewers are generally pleased with the 2011 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Most are impressed with its two-mode hybrid system, which was developed with BMW and Chrysler. Many reviewers report that the Yukon Hybrid drives much like the gas-only Yukon, while others compare the performance to an unlikely competitor: the Toyota Prius.

  • "Like other hybrids, the GM versions combine an internal-combustion engine, in this case a 6.0-liter V-8, and two electric motors. Overall fuel economy rises by about 25 percent with no sacrifice in performance." -- Car and Driver
  • "It's not a stretch to say that driving the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid feels like being behind the wheel of a 5,600-pound Prius." -- Edmunds
  • "Perhaps more impressive than any of these details, especially to the bigger families and weekend warriors who gravitate to vehicles of this size, our GMC Yukon 2-Mode Hybrid sacrifices little towing, payload capability, or passenger space." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The Yukon Hybrid's two-mode hybrid system is designed to achieve better fuel efficiency without sacrificing power or capability. Two electric motors are paired with the six-liter V8 engine. Together they put out a total of 332 horsepower (that’s more than three times the output of a Prius). One electric motor powers the SUV at slow speeds, while the other assists the gasoline engine when more power is needed. Altogether, reviewers are impressed by the system, saying it delivers good acceleration and impressive (for a large SUV) fuel economy. The Yukon Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that most reviewers say works fine.

  • "The Yukon Hybrid behaves much like its conventional siblings. The electric-to-gas transition is almost completely transparent."- -Consumer Guide
  • "The kicker -- and probably the biggest kick associated with driving the Yukon Hybrid -- is this vehicle's almost extra-terrestrial power, a gasoline-electric thrust that is both welcome and alien." -- AutoWeek
  • "Although the Hybrid is the most powerful Yukon available, it's also the heaviest, so don't expect particularly brisk acceleration. Still, its abundance of low-end power -- aided by those torque-rich electric motors -- produces plenty of grunt for both around-town chores and trailer towing." -- Edmunds
  • " In large-SUV history, this just might be the single greatest leap forward in powertrain technology." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Yukon two-mode accelerates with verve. The 'transmission' shifts imperceptibly and right when it should." -- New York Times
  • "There's a slight shudder as the gas engine fires, but the transition is amazingly smooth. We only noticed the change in behavior because we were really looking for it." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "We generally like how this power train operates, as it's a treat to silently glide forward in a 5,617-pound beast. Under hard acceleration we did feel big power fluctuations, with an initial boost followed by a very noticeable lag, then more power." -- CNET

Fuel economy

Despite fuel economy that's estimated to be 30 to 50 percent better than the gas-only Yukon, buyers shouldn't expect Prius-like mpg ratings for the Yukon Hybrid. After all, it is still a large SUV. Both two- and four-wheel drive Yukon Hybrids get an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. While these aren’t great numbers for smaller hybrids, they bring the Yukon Hybrid’s fuel economy into compact SUV territory, which is no small feat. Reviewers are suitably impressed.

  • "Given this is a fuel-gulping 5600-pound sled, the results are impressive." -- Motor Trend
  • "With a little feathering of the throttle, we drove more than a mile on electric power only, at speeds up to 28 mph. But when you stomp on the throttle, the engine thrums to life with full basso crescendo, accompanied by an immediate torque pull from the electric motors that is grand and glorious." -- AutoWeek
  • "There were a few times when I was able to drive on the battery alone (in traffic jams or on a level city street), and that obviously helped the overall mileage. What was remarkable to me was the consistency of the mileage in all types of driving." -- New York Times
  • "We were impressed that the 5,617-pound Yukon Hybrid could be driven under electric power only for close to 5 minutes. We think it could go even longer if the battery was fully charged." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers report that the GMC Yukon Hybrid handles like the large SUV that it is, though opinions are split on the SUV's braking. Some find it even better than the gas-only Yukon's, while others find the brakes too soft. Still others report that the brakes are too grabby.

  • "The electric steering is competitive with that of other large S.U.V.'s. The noise level is low, the slight whine in all-electric mode is not obtrusive, and the regenerative braking feels right." -- New York Times
  • "As with most hybrids, brake feel is spongy, and electric steering can take getting used to, but they otherwise drive as well as the nonhybrid versions." -- Car and Driver
  • "The regenerative braking system produces a firm braking feel and, according to GM, actually stops the big SUV better than the regular Yukon's conventional brakes do." -- Edmunds
  • "We do have one small complaint: the brakes regenerate some of the hybrid's kinetic energy, which is great, but they feel a tad grabby. They're tricky to operate for smooth deceleration when towing." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Yukon Hybrid's suspension is as ridiculous as the drivetrain is sublime. The steering feels vague at low speeds and darty on the highway. Engaging four-wheel-drive mode makes the rig feel like a forklift, with all four wheels pushing in different directions." -- The Truth About Cars

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