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A silver 2019 GMC Yukon XL is parked at a modern building in a city at night.

Functionality and Flash: 2019 GMC Yukon XL vs 2019 Toyota Sequoia

Sport Utility vehicles are all the rage these days with automobile manufacturers fumbling and scraping the idea barrel to fill every possible subcategory of SUV possible. Consumer demand may have created a beast out of auto companies as they shell out mid-level and subcompact sport utility models to flood the market; a new breed of sport utility vehicle that defies their very name by being highly unpractical and unsuited for their originally intended purpose, sport and utility. Most are more like large sedans with larger plastic frames placed on high rise platform tires. That is not to say these new offerings are not exciting or that they offer zero advantages; but other than aesthetics and fresh wonder of the “new”, they hardly seem to amount to anything more than SUV self-aggrandizing. Call us old fashioned, but we kind of like a vehicle that has an equal amount of functionality to its flash and style. And that is why we are taking a look at GMC and Toyota’s new offerings in the full-size Sport Utility Market. Both the GMC Yukon and the Toyota Sequoia provide plenty of utility with enough style to ensure that you do not feel like you are driving an oversized utility van. The specs offered by both auto manufacturers are pretty neck and neck so we have taken the liberty of providing a direct comparison pitting the 2019 GMC Yukon XL vs 2019 Toyota Sequoia.

Performance and Powertrain

The 2019 GMC Yukon XL benefits from not one but two engine options both of which offer the power you would come to expect from a larger truck-based SUV. The bottom two trim levels, the SLE and SLT models, are equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 horsepower with 383 pound-feet of torque. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the base offering is rear wheel drive but four-wheel drive is made available for drivers looking for a more all-terrain vehicle. The standard engine does sacrifice a bit of power for overall quickness, but you hardly select a full-sized truck-based SUV for its efficiency in speed. The top tier Yukon Denali trim brings with it an upgraded engine that more than makes up for any limitations of the standard. Equipped with 6.2-liter V8, the Denali churns out 420 horsepower and is capable of 460 lb-ft of torque. The 6.2-L has great acceleration which immediately takes away from the otherwise truck-like feel of the Yukon. And this is where the Yukon XL really starts to shine; fully equipped, the Yukon tops out with a maximum towing capacity of 8,400 pounds. 4- and 7-pin wiring connectors and a 2-inch receiver hitch already come standard on the Yukon, so when you add the rear leveling suspension with integrated electric brake controller, the Yukon XL’s performance is truly enhanced while towing any load. Drivers will be hard pressed to find another third-row SUV with the maximum towing capacity of the GMC Yukon XL. And did we mention that the Yukon XL seats 9 adults comfortably as well?

Where the Yukon XL provides options, the 2019 Toyota Sequoia is only powered by a single engine selection. The Sequoia is equipped with a strong performing 5.7-liter V8 that is capable of 381 horsepower with an industry high 401 pound-foot of torque behind it. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the V8 does not leave driver’s wanting for power, and there is a quick, nimbleness to the Sequoia off the line as it made the 0-60 mph dash in 7.1 seconds (Edmunds testing). However, the overall weight of the Sequoia makes this beast unruly to handle on the open road, especially on turns, making it a rare occasion that any drive would be able to utilize the full speed capacity. Another drawback of the single engine option is that even at its highest equipped configuration, a 4WD Sequoia Platinum, the vehicle still falls behind the Yukon XL on towing capacity with a maximum of up to 7,000 pounds. Part of the frustration that comes with purchasing a Sequoia is the single engine selection; on first glance, it appears that you can fully customize the large sized truck-based SUV with multiple trim levels, but these options are purely surface level as they all operate with the one V8 engine. Another aspect that the Sequoia falls short of its competitor is that it is only capable of seating 8 and comfort seems to be sacrificed for storage capacity.

Interior and Technology

The screen on the 2019 GMC Yukon XL's dashboard is up, showing a phone charging in a discrete cubby. Compare the interior features when looking at the 2019 GMC Yukon XL vs 2019 Toyota Sequoia.

From the lowest trim all the way to the top (especially at the top Denali Trim), the Yukon XL is decked out with premium, high-quality material throughout the interior of the SUV. The feel of the interior remains that of a truck, but a truck that is surprisingly upscale. And the top tier Denali trim breaks out all the stop as per usual with luxury amenities and creature comfort features like a standard heated steering wheel and perforated leather seats up front. The Denali trim will show you features that you never knew you needed as a driver. Such features include GMC’s patented active noise canceling system which will have Denali trim buyers driving in almost-complete silence with the outside world and its noise completely unbeknownst to those inside the cabin. However, even if you do not spring for the superior Denali package, the Yukon XL is still built to be virtually noise-free on lower trims. The only noise from the interior cabin will be a slight humming of the engine that will be a welcome reminder that you are in fact driving. GMC has also gone to great lengths with the standard suspension which does amazingly well smoothing over larger bumps, while once again the Denali trim outdoes its younger siblings with an adaptive suspension that simply smooths over any kind of bump you encounter on a paved surface. As far as tech, the Yukon XL provides a functional infotainment system with all the bells and whistles provided standard, including Apple Carplay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth connectivity. Parking sensors and a rearview camera also come standard. The majority of the remaining popular driver safety features can also be found on the top tier Denali trim level placing the Yukon XL soundly up-to-date on the technology front.

The Toyota Sequoia falls short when it comes to ride and interior quality. Unlike the Yukon XL, you will definitely know and feel that you are driving a truck-based SUV while cruising down the road in the Sequoia. The interior appearance can appear confusing from a design standpoint with the dashboard and front controls feeling like a much more luxurious vehicle while the remainder of the cabin is outfitted with plastics that feel extremely cheap. It was as if designers put forth its best face for drivers assuming that they would never be passengers in their own vehicle, or more apt, never have passengers. Bulky plastic panels are littered throughout the rear of the cabin that take up a lot of unnecessary space that we deemed worthy of better use as storage space. The Sequoia as mentioned before also wastes that quick acceleration it is capable of by struggling greatly when it comes to handling curvier roads; drivers will definitely want to maintain slower speeds on windy roads as wheel grip on the road is also subpar. The driving capabilities are not too disarming until you take a look at the tech features offered by Toyota, or better yet the lack of tech features. This is an area that Toyota continues to struggle with when it comes to the Sequoia with an out of date infotainment system that seems more like an afterthought. Its clunky design and slow response time make it almost impossible to use while driving relegating the features it provides to parked or passenger usage only. Adding to the negative review of a slowly operating system is that the infotainment system will only pair with smartphones via Bluetooth or USB; yep, that’s right. There is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Conclusion

The 2019 GMC Yukon XL is clearly a well designed full-size sport utility vehicle with optionable engine selections that provide the power you would expect from such a vehicle while still providing the smooth, comforting ride-quality of a luxury vehicle. Although the Toyota Sequoia provides ample power underneath the hood, it ultimately comes up short in towing capacity, comfort, and industry standard technological features. So when it comes to 2019 GMC Yukon XL vs 2019 Toyota Sequoia we recommend the GMC Yukon XL at any of its luxurious trim levels, and if you feel the need, go ahead and treat yourself to the well worth it Denali package.

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