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2015 GMC Yukon Redesigned for a Resurgent America

By: Jeff Youngs, 9/16/2013
With a strengthening economy, it follows that full-size SUV sales are rising. During the first 8 months of 2013, GMC reports that sales of its family of Yukon models have increased 24%, a trend that bodes well for demand when the completely redesigned 2015 Yukon, Yukon XL, and Yukon Denali models go on sale during the first quarter of 2014.

"We've engineered the Yukon and Yukon XL from the ground up, building on a strong legacy of capability to take them to the top of the segment with exceptional refinement and purposeful technology," said Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC Marketing. "And when it comes to the tasks people rely on a full-size SUV for, they do it better than ever--and with more style."

The 2015 GMC Yukon family includes a standard-wheelbase model, long-wheelbase model called the Yukon XL, and luxury-oriented versions of each that wear a Denali badge.

As a result of the redesign, Yukons are more aerodynamic and lighter in weight than previous models, in part due to an aluminum hood and tailgate. They are also quieter inside thanks to recessed doorframes and laminated windshield and front door glass. All Yukons have LED running lights and taillights, while the upscale Yukon Denali models are set apart with a unique grille design, exclusive HID headlights, and a set of standard 20-inch wheels.

Due to its longer wheelbase, the Yukon XL adds leg room for second- and third-row passengers while at the same time nearly doubling the amount of cargo space behind the third-row seat compared with the standard Yukon. This year, both rows of rear seats also fold flat to maximize cargo space, eliminating the previous Yukon's requirement to unlatch, lift, and remove the third-row seats in order to create a flat load floor and maximize interior volume.

While this is a positive change, note that the new Yukon models are not as tall as they used to be, and they retain a solid rear axle suspension. As a result, cargo volume for all models shrinks compared with the previous Yukon lineup. Based on the new figures, the redesigned 2015 Yukon models can carry anywhere from a minimum of 15.3 cu. ft. with the third-row seat in use (Yukon) to 121.1 cu. ft. (Yukon XL) with both rows of rear seats folded. Compare those numbers to the outgoing Yukon models, which range from 16.9 cu. ft. (Yukon) to 137.4 cu. ft. (Yukon XL).

This reduction of cargo volume could help to fuel GMC Acadia sales. The 8-passenger Acadia is a large crossover SUV that cannot match the redesigned Yukon models in terms of towing capacity, but it does offer between 24.1 cu. ft. and 116.1 cu. ft. of cargo space.

What the Acadia doesn't have is a V-8 engine. In the Yukon and Yukon XL, a new 5.3-liter V-8 makes an estimated 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 383 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. The Yukon Denali models get a new 6.2-liter V-8 expected to produce 420 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 460 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. Both engines are equipped with direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and an Active Fuel Management system designed to conserve gas by operating on just 4 of the 8 cylinders under specific, low-driving-load conditions.

A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, feeding power to the Yukon's rear wheels. The transmission offers manual gear selection, automatic grade braking, and a tow/haul driving mode. All Yukons are equipped with a standard automatic locking rear differential. A 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system is optional for the Yukon and Yukon XL, while the Yukon Denali models are offered with an available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

Maximum tow ratings range from 7,800 pounds to 8,500 pounds, with Denali models capable of towing less weight than standard models; with Yukon XL models capable of towing less weight than regular-wheelbase Yukons; and with 4WD/AWD models capable of towing less weight than 2WD models. Trailer sway control and hill-start assist systems are standard for all 2015 Yukons.

In addition to the SUV's new powertrains, the 2015 Yukon family is built on a stronger, fully boxed frame similar to that used to underpin full-size pickups. The suspension is revised to improve the SUV's ride and handling, and the new Yukon boasts a wider rear track than before. Add wider standard wheels with reduced tire sidewall flex, combined with a range of new 20- and 22-inch wheel options, and GMC's claim that the new Yukon handles better than it did before carries credibility. Additionally, the new Yukon is equipped with speed-sensing electric steering and 4-wheel ventilated-disc brakes with Duralife rotors. These braking components are designed to resist rust and to last twice as long as standard brake rotors.

Inside, the 2015 GMC Yukon is equipped with soft-touch material for the dashboard, door panels, and center console. Exposed stitching provides an upscale appearance, and the cabin is equipped with ambient nighttime lighting. Standard equipment includes Keyless Access passive entry with push-button starting, a premium sound system, and an IntelliLink connectivity and infotainment system with an 8-inch color touch-screen display. Multiple USB, SD card, and accessory power outlets keep everyone aboard the Yukon powered up, and thanks to the standard conversation mirror, the driver can keep an eye on everyone from the left front seat.

Speaking of the seats, GMC employs new dual-density seat foam to help improve support, and front-seat occupants enjoy enhanced comfort thanks to a new ambient air vent design. A front bench seat remains standard in the Yukon and Yukon XL, giving the SUV 9-passenger seating capacity, but most vehicles are likely to have front bucket seats with a new center console designed to hold a laptop or tablet computer, or hanging file folders.

Options for the 2015 Yukon models, depending on the trim level selected, include a power-folding third-row seat, power tailgate with programmable height settings, cargo management system, navigation system, and a rear-seat entertainment system (with dual screens in XL models). Choose the Denali model, and in addition to styling upgrades, the SUV includes Active Noise Cancellation technology, a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and an 8-inch driver information display in the gauge cluster that can be customized to individual drivers. Options exclusive to the Denali include a head-up display and power-deploying illuminated running boards.

The 2015 GMC Yukon models can also be fitted with a long list of new safety features, starting with a front-center air bag that is designed to protect against injury when a crash occurs on the opposite side of the vehicle from where the person is sitting. This air bag is standard in all Yukons that have front bucket seats, and is designed to protect only the front-seat occupants. Additionally, the new Yukon offers a reversing camera with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park-assist sensors, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, Lane Change Assist, Front and Rear Automatic Braking, and a Safety Alert Seat that vibrates on the side where a potential threat may exist.

More details about the redesigned 2015 Yukon lineup will become available closer to the SUV's on-sale date in early 2014.

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