As the SUV world has unapologetically moved towards vehicles built on car and minivan chassis that value cupholders more than capability, the 2019 GMC Yukon XL has doubled-down on its truck-based routes to show that luxury, capability, and yes, family-friendliness, can all come in the same package. The 2019 GMC Yukon XL and its twins, the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade ESV, are three of the very few sport utility vehicles that still share a vehicle architecture with full-size trucks. Although it may share a lot in common with the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, the Yukon XL is a totally unique vehicle that offers buyers a combination of comfort and ability not commonly found in modern SUVs.
Although it may seem like ancient history, there was a time not too long ago when there were really only two types of SUVs – large and mid-size SUVs built on truck chassis and a smaller set of compact SUVs built on car chassis. There weren’t any ‘crossover utility vehicles,’ ‘sports activity vehicles,’ or ‘coupe SUVs.’ In this way, the Yukon XL mirrors the living fossils found in the animal world – a vehicle that has outlived its competition by simply being better than them. This is not to say that the Yukon XL rests on its laurels. Instead, it’s just a really good SUV that hasn’t had to constantly revolutionize its formula to remain relevant in a crazy competitive field.
It’s impossible to discuss the Yukon XL without starting with its immense size. The 2019 GMC Yukon XL is built to haul a lot of people and stuff, and that’s without discussing payload. At an overall length just over 224 inches, the XL is one of the longest vehicles on sale today. All that length can be put to good use; with all three rows of seats up, the Yukon XL can hold 39.3 cubic feet of cargo volume – that’s more than many moderately-sized hatchbacks. With both of the back rows down, that cargo capacity grows to an astounding 121 cubic feet, surely more than many Manhattan apartments. If you do opt to leave all three rows of seats up, you’ll actually be able to fit non-contortionist adults in the third-row, as the XL offers over 35 inches of legroom to back row passengers. If you simply can’t make do with eight passengers, the SLE trim is one of the last on the market to offer three rows of bench seating, for a total of nine passengers.
Inside, the GMC Yukon XL features the first-class comfort you would expect from GMC. Standard wood trim abounds in the cabin while an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility tops the center stack. Select any trim above the base SLE package to get the available leather steering wheel and heated leather front seats. Other available features include two rear-seat entertainment screens, 4g LTE wi-fi hot spot capability, keyless start, tri-zone climate control, and the myGMC mobile app, which enables drivers to locate, lock/unlock, alarm, and start the car from their smartphone. Those who go for the top-of-the-line Denali trim will be sitting in the lap of luxury with heated first and second row seats, a heads-up display, heated steering wheel, Bose 10-speaker sound system, and power-folding second and third-row seats.
Although the Yukon XL’s appeal extends beyond families, it’s safe to say the majority of buyers will have their children on their mind when they head to their local GMC dealer. Luckily, the Yukon XL delivers safety in spades. Nervous parkers will enjoy standard front and back parking sensors and a rear-view camera as well as the available rear cross-traffic alert. Once you’re out on the road, available features include forward collision alert, low-speed automatic braking, lane change alert with blind zone alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and the available safety alert seat. The safety alert seat, which offers haptic seat-bottom vibration pulses instead of audible alerts, provides warnings to the driver without the potentially annoying sounds of many modern safety systems.
It’s also important to draw attention to the Yukon’s two safety features aimed directly at children – teen driver and rear seat reminder. Rear seat reminder is activated after a second-row door is opened or closed during or just before a trip. When the Yukon XL is turned off, five audible chimes and a message in the driver information center in the middle of the dash remind you to check the rear seats. Teen driver combines features to help young drivers learn good habits. When teen driver is activated, all standard safety features remain locked in the on position. Parents can use a customizable pin to enable speed warnings, a speed limiter, and audio volume limiters. Even without the pin, teen driver produces report card-style data and will mute the sound system when the front seats are occupied but not buckled. Whether your children are young or old, the Yukon XL is prepared to help ensure they reach their destination safely.
The 2019 GMC Yukon XL gains more than just size from its siblings in the GM full-size truck family. Although some power is lost in transporting more people that the Silverado/Sierra twins, the Yukon XL is one of the most powerful SUVs on the market today. The base 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine produces an astounding 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Upgrade to the 6.2L V8, and you’re looking at 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Add the heavy-duty trailering package, which comes with an integrated trailer brake controller and premium smooth ride suspension with rear air leveler, to the 6.2 liter V8 and the Yukon XL will tow up 8,300 pounds. To keep all of that weight safely behind the car, GMC includes hill start assist, which holds the breaks when accelerating on a hill to gain extra traction, and trailer sway control, which can sense sway and activate the Yukon’s breaks and the trailer’s brakes* to reign everything back into place. As with every respectable full-size SUV, the Yukon XL offers an available two-speed transfer case to help you gain traction on a variety of surfaces.
Full-size SUVs have a bit of a reputation for gas guzzling. While the Yukon XL might not get the same miles per gallon as a compact sedan, long gone are the days of under-10 mpg vehicles. With the base V8, the Yukon XL will achieve a commendable 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. With the upgraded 6.2 L V8, city mileage drops by one while highway mileage remains the same. Overall, most drivers should expect to see around 18 mpg.
The lineage of the 2019 GMC Yukon XL can be traced as far back as the first Chevy Suburban in 1935. Its mission has remained the same over the years – to get everyone and their gear into one vehicle. The 2019 Yukon XL remains a great people carrier but also a remarkable, forward-thinking luxury SUV. The SUV world might have changed around it, but the XL remains the king of its class. Visit your local GMC dealer today to find the right Yukon XL for you.
*For properly equipped trailers only. Make sure your trailer has brakes before depending on this feature.