$15,885 - $23,663

2013 GMC Yukon Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 GMC Yukon was new.


Performance: 7.9

Reviewers say the 2013 GMC Yukon has plenty of powerful engine options, a smooth ride and a maximum towing capacity that rivals some full-size trucks'.

  • The standard 5.3-liter V8 engine is a paragon of refinement; the Denali's 6.2 unit is less so. That's ironic considering how GMC pitches the Denali as a more upscale vehicle." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2012 GMC Yukon excels at highway cruising. The cabin is quiet and the suspension smoothes the bumps without making handling in the corners feel sloppy." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Unlike the truck based full-size GM SUVs of the past, the 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL deliver a rather confident and civilized ride, with handling aided by numerous sophisticated electronic and mechanical suspension components, such as the StabiliTrak stability control system." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Yukon has a range of engines. The SLE and SLT come with 5.3-liter V8 engines that produce 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, while all Denali trims come with a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. Half-ton Yukon XLs get the 5.3-liter V8 and the three-quarter-ton XL’s have a 6.0-liter V8 with 352 horsepower and 382 pound-feet of torque. All engine options are paired with a six-speed automatic. Shoppers have a choice between two- or four-wheel drive, which get the same fuel economy ratings with the 5.3-liter engine at 15/21 mpg city/highway. With their larger engines, the Denali and the three-quarter-ton Yukon XL get lower fuel economy ratings. For improved fuel economy, GMC offers a Yukon Hybrid, which is rated at 20/23 mpg city/highway and is reviewed separately.

Reviewers say the Yukon has powerful engine options that have strong punch off the line and help it easily pass and merge on the highway. One critic notes that the Denali feels only slightly more powerful despite its larger engine.

  • Yukons equipped with the 5.3-liter V8 are muscular off the line and in highway passing and merging. Despite a rather substantial increase in power, the Denali is only slightly stronger." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The driving experience is made all the more confident thanks to a range of powerful V8 engines (5.3-liter on Yukon, 6.0-liter on Yukon XL and 6.2-liter on Denali) teamed with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "The Denali shares the Escalade's potent 6.2-liter V8 and is thus notably quick for such a sizable vehicle.” -- Edmunds (2011)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say that from behind the wheel, you probably won’t mistake the Yukon for a sports car. However, they say the Yukon offers a fairly smooth ride and a smaller turning radius compared with the rest of the class. One reviewer also likes the Yukon’s brake feel and stopping power. Critics find steering to be a bit disconnected from the road. Rear-wheel drive comes standard and four-wheel drive is optional.

  • You won't mistake these big trucks for cars (or even crossovers for that matter), but they hold their own against the few other rivals in this class. The brakes deliver well-controlled stops with excellent pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • The Yukon's relatively compact 39-foot turning circle also makes this big SUV reasonably maneuverable in town. Still, the Yukon doesn't feel particularly agile in traffic and also exhibits some vagueness in its steering." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Optional on the Yukon XL SLT and standard on the Denali, this auto-leveling rear suspension system delivers a level of ride comfort that just may cause occupants to forget they're traveling in what is essentially a truck." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)


The Yukon’s minimum towing capacity is 7,800 pounds, and the two-wheel drive Yukon XL 2500 can tow up to 9,600 pounds, which puts it in full-size truck territory.

  • "It feels right at home when towing a trailer, however, cruising effortlessly and easily maintaining speed up long grades." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Beyond the styling differences, what really sets the 2012 GMC Yukon XL apart from the Ford Expedition EL and Toyota Sequoia is its available 2500 3/4-ton model that provides more towing and hauling capacity than anything in its class (outside of GM, that is)." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)

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