2019 GMC Yukon

Performance


#6 out of 6 in Large SUVs

$49,600 MSRP
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2019 GMC Yukon Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

GMC offers the 2019 Yukon with two distinct powertrains: two V8 engines and two automatic transmissions. Both offer ample power for daily driving, though the base engine’s dull throttle response means you’ll have to be aggressive with the throttle to make the most of that power. The upgraded engine and transmission are much better, producing quicker acceleration and smoother, timelier gear shifts. The ride can be bumpy with the base suspension, though the upgraded adaptive suspension makes the ride much more comfortable.

  • "Both engines provide ample power, but the base V8 feels lethargic and unresponsive in normal driving. The 6.2-liter V8 is punchier and much more responsive, making the Yukon feel a bit less truckish." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2018)
  • "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

The Yukon has a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This setup produces more than enough power to propel you around town and on the highway, though you’ll really need to step on the gas to get strong acceleration. Additionally, the transmission can be slow to shift.

The GMC Yukon Denali’s setup is the better of the two. It features a 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. (This powertrain is optional in the SLT.) This brawny engine delivers noticeably better acceleration, and the transmission shifts smoothly and promptly. When properly equipped, the Yukon can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

With the base engine and rear-wheel drive, the Yukon gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel-drive models lose 1 mpg on the highway, and the larger engine gets 14/23 mpg. Those are decent numbers for a large SUV.

  • "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 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 (2018)
  • "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 provides a mostly smooth ride, though smaller bumps and rough roads can be felt in the cabin. The Denali models are the most comfortable. Their Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension smooths out bumps along the road and helps the SUV better adapt to various road conditions. In turn, that allows occupants to have a more cushioned ride. While this is a large SUV, the Yukon keeps body lean to a minimum around corners. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional in every trim.

  • "The standard suspension handles large bumps well without feeling overly floaty or bouncy, but vibrations from smaller imperfections and rough roads do get translated into the cabin. The Denali's adaptive setup is a marked improvement on all paved surfaces." -- 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 (2018)
  • "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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