2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali Review

Tuesday, July 1st 2014. | GMC |

2015 GMC Yukon Denali Side ViewGMC announced the all-new 2015 Yukon, Yukon XL and flagship Yukon Denali models will deliver greater capability and refinement, with more power, new fold-flat rear seats and a quieter interior. And thanks to a new family of advanced EcoTec3 engines, the lineup is expected to deliver the segment’s best V-8 fuel economy.The Yukon family of SUVs–Yukon, long-wheelbase Yukon XL, and luxurious Yukon Denali–adopt many of the changes applied to the Sierra, though GMC points out that the related SUVs don’t share any body panels with the new full-size trucks.The Yukon and Yukon XL are also related to the 2015 Chevy Tahoe and 2015 Suburban, sharing powertrains and much of the internal structure between the family of SUVs.

2015 GMC Yukon Engine

Powertrains are shared with the full-size Sierra pickup as well as the other GM SUVs. There’s no V-6 on the Yukon’s spec sheet–and the former Hybrid edition isn’t present, either. The standard engine is the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the Sierra; in the Yukon, it’s rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine will be GM’s new 6.2-liter V-8, with 420 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Both powerplants will be teamed with a six-speed automatic, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. In our time behind the wheel of the 2015 Yukon, the new V-8s are impressive, delivering strong acceleration and balanced gas mileage thanks to a pair of technologies new to the Yukon: direct injection and cylinder-deactivation technology. The new technology yields EPA gas mileage ratings as high as 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined.

The EcoTec3 engines feature state-of-the-art technologies, including direct injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system, designed to make the most of power, torque and efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions. More precisely controlled combustion enables the new engines to run with a higher compression ratio, which delivers greater power and efficiency.

Hydraulic engine mounts, electronic throttle control, adaptive exhaust systems, improved aerodynamics and other technologies help the engines operate in four-cylinder mode for longer periods of time with Active Fuel Management, further increasing efficiency.Both engines are matched with the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission.

GMC Yukon Performance

2015 GMC Yukon Denali Interior SeatPotent V-8 engines, available four-wheel drive, and improved gas mileage make the 2015 GMC Yukon a remarkable SUV. Full-size SUVs require strong engines, not just for acceleration and passing, but for towing and hauling–people actually use these expensive people-movers for real work (and real, hard play). Fortunately, the 2015 GMC Yukon has a pair of engines that are up to the task.

The standard Yukon and Yukon XL get GM’s new 5.3-liter V-8, rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Yukon Denali models get an upgrade to the 6.2-liter V-8 and its 420-horsepower and 460-pound-foot ratings. All versions of the Yukon can choose from rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive systems.

With direct injection for improved engine responsiveness and more precise fuel metering, as well as cylinder deactivation technology that can cut half of the cylinders off under low-load situations, the new V-8s, in both 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter forms, are both surprisingly efficient and eminently capable.

The cylinder deactivation system can silently and seamlessly turn off half of the V-8’s cylinders, letting you cruise in V-4 mode. It’s so well-executed, you’ll only notice by looking at the instrument panel LCD, where a “V4” or “V8” indicator announces the current status. If more acceleration is required than V4 mode can produce, the other four cylinders fire back up almost instantly.

Combined with a towing capacity of up to 8,600 pounds, the 2015 GMC Yukon’s performance is at the upper edge of all SUVs, making it a top pick for those who do more than commute or haul family to work or school–but also a fairly efficient choice for those who require an SUV that can do it all.

For better performance, the Yukon’s frame is now composed primarily of high-strength steel, for better crash safety and structural rigidity. It’s still a live-axle, leaf-spring design, but the rear track has been widened. A locking rear differential is standard. The Yukon also now has electric power steering, like the Sierra, and Denali models get a set of magnetically-controlled shocks. Maximum towing is rated at 8,500 pounds.

2015 GMC Yukon MPG

With two engines and both 2WD and 4WD variants available, the GMC Yukon offers a range of efficiency and capability, though it loses the hybrid version of the previous generation.

The standard 5.3-liter V-8 engine in a 2WD model rates as high as 23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, a figure brought down somewhat by its 16 mpg city rating. At the other end of the spectrum, the 4WD Yukon Denali XL with the 6.2-liter V-8 engine rates 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. The rest of the available variations on the Yukon theme fit between these two bookends.

Whichever version of the Yukon you choose, you’re paying a price at the pump for the passenger, cargo, and towing capacity offered by these substantial full-size SUVs. As many steps as GM has taken to improve the gas mileage of its new V-8 engine, including direct injection and cylinder deactivation, the reality of physics weighs in heavily–and these nearly 6,000-pound vehicles are heavy.

2015 GMC Yukon Interior

2015 GMC Yukon Denali DashboardWith a squarer, more straight-edged look, the 2015 GMC Yukon puts on a crisp business suit in place of its previous smart-casual look. The cabin gets a range of upgrades in design and layout, too, moving the Yukon experience closer to luxury territory–and fully into that realm in Denali form.

Real aluminum and genuine wood trims adorn the Denali, giving the Yukon’s quality leather a suitable match. The look of the interior is upgraded not just with better materials, but with more modern, almost sedan-like design, shedding some of the truck-like tendencies of the previous-generation Yukon.

A clever rising center display screen hides a cubby space with a powered USB port, making the perfect place to stash your phone out of site while staying connected. In the instrument panel, an LCD display relays several ranges of information, including cylinder deactivation status, gas mileage, and more. The overall effect is of a much more modern, high-tech look

Yukon and Yukon XL share design, architectural and powertrain elements, but Yukon XL has an approximately 14-inch longer wheelbase and is approximately 20 inches longer overall, providing greater legroom for third-row passengers and almost twice the cargo room behind the third-row seat.

“Although they are based on a similar architecture, Yukon and Yukon XL are distinctive products that appeal to different customers,” said DiSalle. “Versatility and spaciousness are valued by customers for both vehicles, but the Yukon XL is the choice for families with more children and those with lifestyles that require its unique combination of passenger- and cargo-hauling capabilities. In fact, Yukon XL owners are more than twice as likely to transport passengers daily in the third-row seat.”

New and enhanced product highlights of the 2015 Yukon lineup include:

  • Fold-flat second- and third-row seats that enhance cargo capability and convenience – including an available power-folding feature
  • Approximately two inches more legroom for second-row passengers and easier entry/exit
  • All-new cargo management system
  • Available power rear liftgate with multiple programmable height settings
  • Standard eight-inch-diagonal color touch screen radio with enhanced IntelliLink and available navigation
  • Eight-inch-diagonal customizable driver display with three available user themes and available head-up display (Denali models)
  • Multiple USB ports, SD slots and accessory power outlets – including a 110-volt three-prong outlet – to support electronic devices of all kinds
  • Available Blu-ray/DVD rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens on Yukon XL
  • Conversation mirror in the overhead console that provides a panoramic view of the rear seats
  • Keyless entry and push-button start.

2015 GMC Yukon Denali InteriorWhen it comes to safety, the Yukon lineup incorporates new technologies to help protect the driver and passengers before, during and after a collision. They include a forward radar system and the segment’s only front seat center-mounted air bag (models with bucket seats), which is engineered to provide additional protection to drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes, where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.

Standard and available safety features, depending on the model, also include forward collision alert, front park assist, lane departure warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking, and GM’s Safety Alert Seat. It offers directional vibrations to alert the driver about potential crash threats.

The exteriors are sleeker and more aerodynamic, enhancing efficiency on the highway and contributing to the new Yukon’s quiet ride.

Bold styling cues include highly detailed, chrome-accented grilles matched with GMC’s signature C-shaped light-emitting diode lighting motif, front and rear. Projector-beam headlamps are standard on Yukon and Yukon XL. The distinctive Denali models are instantly identifiable by their signature chrome grille and unique exterior appointments, including exclusive high-intensity discharge headlamps.

Additional exterior features include:

  • New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly reducing wind noise and contributing to improved aerodynamics
  • Laminated windshield and front door glass to enhance quietness
  • Lightweight aluminum hood and liftgate panels enhance efficiency through reduced overall mass
  • A standard rear spoiler on the liftgate houses a relocated rear window wiper that is hidden when not in use
  • New worm screw-style liftgate arms take up less interior space than the previous gooseneck arms
  • Illuminated, power-retractable assist steps available on Denali
  • New family of 18-, 20- and 22-inch wheels, including standard 20-inch wheels on Denali.

2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali Image Gallery

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