$38,640 - $57,506

2018 GMC Yukon Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 GMC Yukon was new.


Performance: 8.2

With a powerful engine lineup, a mostly pleasant ride (it can feel a little uneasy over some bumps), and easy drivability, the 2018 GMC Yukon will satisfy most shoppers. Although we wouldn’t call the Yukon nimble, it feels composed for a large SUV. It’s great for carting around the family, hauling your stuff, or towing a trailer.

  • "On the road the new 2018 GMC Yukon wonderfully combines the attributes of a full-size luxury sedan, a muscle car and a Peterbilt. It's smooth, comfortable and quiet on the highway, maneuverable, powerful and easy to drive in the city, and like a big rig it scares off pesky other drivers looking down at their phones." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If you need an SUV that's as good at towing your boat as it is hauling your family, the 2017 GMC Yukon is the kind of vehicle you should consider." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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)

Acceleration and Power

A 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard in the Yukon. Although the base engine has plenty of power on reserve, summoning that power requires pressing the gas pedal to the floor. Denali models feature a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is the preferred choice in the powertrain lineup.

Large SUVs are known to be gas guzzlers, but the Yukon’s fuel economy is a little better than most of its classmates’ ratings. With the base engine and rear-wheel drive, the Yukon returns 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. On the lower end, a Yukon Denali XL with four-wheel drive returns 14/21 mpg city/highway.

When equipped with the larger V8 and the Max Trailering package, the Yukon has an 8,500-pound towing capacity. That’s more than most full-size SUVs can handle. However, if you want to tow more weight, consider the Ford Expedition. It has a 9,300-pound limit.

  • "The mechanical twin of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, the new 2018 Yukon SLE and SLT trims offer the same 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. Move up to the Denali, however, and you'll get a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower on tap and a slick 10-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The base V8 feels strong, but only if you really stomp on the gas. Otherwise, the Yukon's sluggish throttle response and soft brake pedal make for a disconnected driving experience." -- Edmunds
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

The Yukon navigates turns well for a vehicle its size. Even with adverse weather conditions, the Yukon inspires confidence out on the road. Still, maneuverability in tight spots remains a problem with any vehicle this large. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

Ride quality varies by suspension type. With the standard setup, the Yukon smooths over potholes, but the ride can get jiggly when going over smaller bumps. Models with the available Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension offer a higher-quality ride.

  • "The base suspension manages sharp impacts well, but surprisingly small road imperfections tend to give the cockpit the shakes." -- Edmunds
  • "Visibility is excellent, the Yukon's steering is light and it rides admirably, despite its antiquated solid-axle rear suspension. Denali trims also employ Magnetic Ride Control, a system that features self-adjusting shock absorbers that continually adapt to changing road conditions for a uniform and luxurious ride over any surface." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- Popular Mechanics (2015)

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