2020 GMC Yukon
2020 GMC Yukon
Though the familiar design is now entering its seventh year, the full-size 2020 GMC Yukon SUV is still as spacious, capable, and elegant as ever.
The 2020 Yukon is available in both standard and long-wheelbase variations. The long-wheelbase model, known as the Yukon XL, rides on a 14-inch longer wheelbase than the standard-length model. Overall length is up 20.5 inches. The stretch yields significantly more cargo space and third-row legroom.
As an old-school SUV, the Yukon gets old-school V-8 power. Most models come standard with a 5.3-liter V-8 that makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, but a 6.2-liter V-8 is also available. This engine puts out a full 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
The smaller engine continues to use a 6-speed automatic, but the 6.2-liter sends its power through a 10-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard across the range, though four-wheel drive is available. Properly equipped, this SUV can tow a full 8,500 pounds.
Expect 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, 18 mpg combined for a rear-drive Yukon with the 5.3-liter V-8. Four-wheel drive drops that to 15/21/17 mpg. The 6.2-liter engine improves highway gas mileage over the base powertrain, almost certainly due to the more efficient 10-speed automatic and its higher final-drive ratios. This engine is good for 15/23/17 mpg in RWD spec and 14/22/17 in 4WD trim.
Fuel economy for the longer Yukon XL models are nearly identical to the standard-length models.
The NHTSA gives the Yukon a four-star overall rating.Some trims offer adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
All prices include an $1,295 destination charge. All prices are for rear-wheel-drive models; four-wheel drive is a $3,000 upgrade for every trim level.
The SLE ($51,895; $54,795 for XL) is the cheapest Yukon, outfitted with cloth upholstery, tri-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 18-inch wheels. It’s the only Yukon available with a front bench seat, which costs $250.
The SLT Standard Edition ($56,095; $58,995 for XL) comes with leather seats, a power liftgate, and some active safety features including blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keep assist.
The SLT ($59,095; $61,995 for XL) adds heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless start, and power-folding seats for the second and third rows.
The Denali ($68,995; $71,895 for XL) is the top-spec Yukon. It gets the 6.2-liter V-8, the chrome-mesh Denali grille, 22-inch wheels, Bose audio, magnetic suspension, and navigation.
The Yukon is one of a trio of SUVs built by General Motors, the other two being the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade. All three share the same roofline and boxy shape, but the Yukon manages to differentiate itself with its fascias and chrome detailing. It strikes a nice balance between the more showy Cadillac and the entry-level Chevy.
All three of those SUVs are now seven years into their current design cycle. Despite the age of the design and the inherent simplicity of a squared-off two-box shape, the Yukon is a handsome SUV, and arguably the most attractive of the three GM SUVs. Its styling has aged well, and there’s nothing overwrought about it. The subdued and elegant fascias help it fly under the radar while still retaining a moneyed look that’s reflective of its price point.
The Yukon can seat nine with the optional front bench seat on low-trim models. All Yukons, even those with buckets and a console, get a column-mounted shifter. This makes the Yukon one of the few vehicles outside of the pickup truck segment to still be equipped with a column shift.
Cloth seats are standard, but most models get leather upholstery. The hides are good quality and the seats are supportive and comfortable for all-day driving. The seats are one of the many reasons the Yukon is such a formidable road warrior.
Another reason the Yukon is a great road-tripper is due to its spaciousness. This is especially the Yukon XL, which boasts 121 cubic feet of total cargo space and 34 inches of third-row legroom.
The standard 8.0-inch touchscreen comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The good-sized screen sits prominently in the dash and is one of the better infotainment systems out there.
There’s no getting around the fact that Yukon has trucklike dynamics. After all, it’s big, heavy, tall, and rides on a full frame that also underpins the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
Yet that doesn’t mean the Yukon suffers from an uncomfortable or choppy ride. On the contrary, the ride is velvet smooth, smothering any and all bumps. Denali versions are even better, as they get GM’s excellent magnetic shocks that improve both ride and handling.
The soft ride pairs well with the two refined and powerful V-8s. The 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 that powers most models can move this 5,000-pound SUV with gusto when prompted, yet will also all but disappear into the background when gentle cruising is the order of the day. The exhaust has just enough of a rumble to remind passerby that there’s a V-8 under the hood, but there’s nothing even remotely obnoxious about it.
The 6.2-liter V-8 is another winner. Its output of 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque would be appropriate for a big-engined sports car, let alone a family hauler such as this. And with its 10-speed automatic, gas mileage on the highway actually ticks upwards by 1 mpg compared to the 5.3-liter engine. It’s exclusive to the Denali, making for yet another reason to step up to that chromed-out, top-spec Yukon.
Despite the onslaught of crossovers, true body-on-frame SUVs remain indispensable options for buyers with certain priorities. Space, comfort, towing ability, and V-8 power are all mainstays of this segment, and few SUVs do it better than the GMC Yukon. Get the Denali if you can, or the SLT if you can’t.
—By Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions by The Car Connection