$32,465 - $45,393

2016 GMC Yukon Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 GMC Yukon was new.


Performance: 8.4

Reviewers praise the 2016 GMC Yukon's powerful engines, saying the base engine never struggles to deliver power, even when the SUV is loaded with cargo and passengers, and the larger V8 generates even more muscle. Critics report the Yukon's well-tuned suspension and composed handling make it simple to maneuver, and its brakes and steering provide plenty of feedback.

  • "… the Yukon is still a capable workhorse, but it rides down a highway or up a mountain pass more efficiently, comfortably, quietly and confidently than ever before." --Edmunds (2015)
  • "If you're holding your breath anticipating that we'll tell you that the Yukon has precise handling and sporty moves, you should exhale now because no such review is coming. Considering the Yukon's weight of 5,500 pounds, tall ride height and massive length, however, GMC has done a remarkable job getting its body-on-frame behemoth to behave." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "… you have a luxurious, comfortable and well-controlled full-size SUV that's as at home on the highway as it is on a twisting mountain road." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Despite their size, all versions of these SUVs are surprisingly easy to drive." -- Motor Trend (2015)

Acceleration and Power

A 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission come standard both in the base 2016 Yukon and the Yukon XL. Denali trims come with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 420 horsepower and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates the base Yukon can get up to 16/23 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class. All Yukon models come standard with an Active Fuel Management system that aids fuel economy by deactivating four of the eight cylinders when they aren't needed. When properly equipped, the Yukon can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

Test drivers report the base engine delivers ample power, even when the Yukon is full of people and cargo. They recommend the larger V8 in the Denali trims to drivers who need even more power. Some critics note the engines are quiet unless drivers push the accelerator pedal to the floor. The six-speed automatic transmission is sometimes slow to downshift when drivers punch the accelerator, a few reviewers report.

  • "If you're all about performance and handling and you want the maximum squeezed from a full-size SUV, we recommend you go with the Denali trim. Its larger engine boasts more power and torque, yet its fuel economy only drops by one or two digits." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2015 GMC Yukon's 5.3-liter V8 engine is beefy enough to pull around a full complement of passengers and gear, yet plenty smooth and quiet." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "While driving around Lake Tahoe for three days, there was never a want or need for more power. All of the test vehicles handled the hills well, whether going up or down." -- Motor Trend (2015)
  • "The only fly in the ointment is that the 6-speed automatic transmission … occasionally exhibits some delay before downshifting when the throttle is stabbed while underway." -- Consumer Guide (2015)
  • "Both engines are quiet and smooth unless you punch it. And then there's plenty of muscle on tap." -- Popular Mechanics (2015)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 GMC Yukon has a more composed ride than its large size would suggest, according to test drivers. They note that it's easy to drive, thanks to its well-tuned suspension. Reviewers say the brakes and steering provide decent feedback. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional.

  • "As long as the Yukon is not confined like a large bear in a small cage, it's able to comfortably run, negotiating winding roads, delivering acceptable levels of steering feedback and braking, and returning highway fuel economy numbers breaking the 20-mpg barrier." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2015 trucks switch to electric power steering, and it's a well-tuned setup. We also were impressed with the improved pedal feel from the redesigned brake system." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "All versions of the Yukon we drove felt tauter and more controlled than their predecessors, particularly the Denali, which comes standard with magnetic-ride-control shock absorbers. Although you never forget that you're piloting three tons and 17 feet of truck, the Yukon and the Yukon Denali continue to respond accurately even when you push them." -- Car and Driver (2015)
  • "Beyond cosmetic upgrades, GM's done superb work on handling. These are still very large vehicles, but they're a piece of cake to pilot. In particular, since we got to test both long- and shorter-wheelbase trucks over mountain passes and in rain and snow between Nevada City, Calif., and Napa, Calif., we'd call out GM's effort on chassis stiffness, ride control, and steering rigidity." -- Popular Mechanics (2015)

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