First Impressions | Driving with Style – 2021 GMC Yukon
Perfect timing. When I receive a review vehicle I try to plan something special. An adventure that will include the family and a fun location to visit. Well the newly redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon arrived at the perfect moment. Here in Southern California where I live, it had just rained and snowed. So we had beautiful skies and snow on the mountains.
Over the course of a few days we drove the 2021 GMC Yukon down to Temecula Valley and visited some wineries that were just opening for business after the COVID-19 shut down. Please do what you can to support your local small business community. Note all safe driving practices were employed.
Size and comfort of a vehicle is very important to me and full disclosure I own a 2019 GMC Yukon. I do have to share with you this redesign really impressed my wife and I. Leather seats, the sunroof, third row seating, the automatic seats in the cargo area, the large entertainment/information center and of course my current favorite is wireless Apple Car Play. Overall it is a great ride for local and long trips with the family. Interesting timing I received a notification from OnStar they are offering unlimited wi-fi for only $25. I am sure this is a limited time offer, but if you spend a lot of time in your car and your family is streaming movies and music you might want to check it out.
What I finally got and you know that moment when you finally “get it” is how to use the driver’s assist package. I purchased my Yukon because of it’s cargo space. As a video and events production company we have lots of gear. Sometimes we require the use of a trailer and having the tow package really does help. But with the drivers assist option, I use aerial view option and it really does assist with how to park this vehicle.
For no other reason other than the fact there was snow on the mountains, we decided to drive to Idyllwild, California. We enjoyed the snow and the 2021 GMC Yukon beautifully handled driving up those mountains. Again, there is plenty of cargo space for our snow saucers and hiking gear.
Please share with us your first impressions when Driving with Style.
“GMC Yukon is the full-size premium SUV that’s made to be used,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC. “The new Yukon delivers what customers value most – premium features, purposeful technology and all-terrain capability.”
The 2021 Yukon lineup is headlined by an all-new and more upscale Denali and the first-ever Yukon AT4, taking Yukon into the premium off-road space. Yukon reaches a higher level of precise craftsmanship and premium accommodations through a combination of advanced features and class-leading technologies, including:
- All-new interior design across the Yukon lineup, highlighted by a Denali-exclusive interior and a new, class-leading available Power Sliding Center Console.
- First-in-class, available, four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension delivers exceptional ride comfort and, when 4WD LO is engaged, allows drivers to raise the body up to 2 inches (50 mm) for additional ground clearance when traveling off-road (late availability).
- An available nine camera views1, the most in the segment, increase driver awareness, including High Definition Surround Vision, Rear Camera Mirror and GMC’s ProGrade trailering system.
- Class-leading available 15-inch-diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display projects speed, navigation, safety features and other driver-centric information when properly equipped.
- The most powerful engine in the full-size SUV segment, an all-new 6.2L V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management (standard on Denali) delivers an estimated 420 horsepower, paired with a standard 10-speed transmission.
- All-new available Active Response 4WDTM System combines technologies including an electronic Limited Slip Differential, to continuously monitor road conditions and react to improve traction, handling and overall control.
The Quintessential Denali
The 2021 Yukon Denali debuts a more confident stance and improved proportions enabled by its longer wheelbase and new chassis. As bold as the new exterior design is, the biggest stories are found inside the new Yukon.
Denali, GMC’s premium luxury sub-brand, has driven much of the brand’s consistent growth in recent years by adding an elevated level of design and premium craftsmanship. Introduced on the 1999 Yukon, Denali has since grown to include all GMC product lines but has always been synonymous with Yukon. About 60 percent of Yukon buyers select Denali, making it a focal point for the next-generation design.
“Yukon was the model in which Denali originated in 1999, and now more than 20 years later, we’re introducing the quintessential Denali,” says Helen Emsley, executive director of Global Buick and GMC Design. “It delivers a first-class experience with an all-new, exclusive interior and a bolder, more distinctive exterior design.”
For the first time, Denali models now have an exclusive interior – a completely new instrument panel, unique seats and a choice among four unique color themes, each with its own personality – outfitted with premium and authentic materials.
Each of the four color themes include authentic wood trim, with a fully natural look and texture. Leather surfaces are cut and stitched by hand in a unique Denali pattern.
Denali’s trademark Galvano chrome grille is larger and more detailed, with a precise dimensional pattern featuring over 10,000 individual reflective surfaces. Advanced lighting technology distinguishes the Yukon Denali from other SUVs. GMC’s C-shaped front lighting signature is conveyed through a prominent “light blade” that delivers uniform LED illumination for the daytime running lamps. LEDs are also used for the headlamps, taillamps, fog lamps and other illuminative elements, with lenses constructed from durable material with an almost crystalline quality.
As always, Denali offers the highest level of premium features and content in the new Yukon and Yukon XL. Highlights include:
- High Definition Surround Vision1 camera
- 15-inch-diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display
- Rear Pedestrian Alert1
- Fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control
- Premium available options, including 22-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, Air Ride Adaptive Suspension and Active Response 4WDTMSystem
Class-Leading Power Sliding Center Console
The Yukon’s new first-class interior features a Power Sliding Center Console, available on Denali, AT4 and SLT. The main storage console between the driver and passenger seats can slide back up to 10 inches (254 mm), offering an expansive storage area that enhances overall storage flexibility and organization.
When the console slides back, drivers gain access to an open space for a purse or bag, and an additional hidden drawer underneath the console’s main storage bin, which provides secure storage and additional peace of mind.
First-Ever Yukon AT4
Following the breakout popularity of the new Sierra AT4 pickup and the more recently launched Sierra HD AT4 and Acadia AT4, the new Yukon AT4 is squarely focused on rugged adventure. GMC will offer the new AT4 sub-brand across all product lines by the end of 2020.
Yukon AT4 provides premium off-road inspired design cues to match its strong capability. The first-ever Yukon AT4 features a unique front fascia that both visually carries the rugged all-terrain look and supports off-road capability. Coupled with the available four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, the AT4 can raise and offer an additional 2 inches (50 mm) of ground clearance. When at this maximum height, the Yukon AT4 offers a nearly 32-degree approach angle for added off-road capability. AT4 provides a contrast to Denali’s chrome-oriented look around the exterior, with trim characterized by body color or dark accents throughout, as well as a pair of red recovery hooks, similar to the Sierra AT4.
Key features of the AT4 include:
- Two-speed transfer case
- 20-inch Goodyear® all-terrain tires
- Traction Select System with off-road mode
- Hill Descent Control
- Skid plates protecting key areas of the underbody
- AT4-exclusive leather appointed seats and stitching
- Unique Jet Black interior color theme with Brandy accents
- Heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row outboard seats
“Our mission with the next-generation Yukon was to create an off-road capable vehicle with a premium interior, advanced technology and class-leading space for eight people and their cargo,” said Jim Danahy, executive chief engineer of full-size trucks.
Elevating Capability with Active Response 4WDTM System and Advanced Chassis Controls
The heart of the new Yukon is its all-new Active Response 4WDTM System, a combination of technical systems including: auto two-speed transfer case, Traction Select, chassis controls and a new electronic Limited Slip Differential. Coupled with the new multilink independent rear suspension, the Yukon offers the ride sophistication and isolating characteristics typically associated with smaller vehicles but scaled for the capability requirements of GMC’s full-size SUV customers.
The available four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension offers ride-height adjustments of up to 4 inches (100 mm) total, as well as an automatic self-leveling feature. Drivers can raise the body up to 2 inches (50 mm) for additional ground clearance when driving off-road.
In higher speed highway driving, the system automatically lowers Yukon’s ride height ¾ inch (20 mm) to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. A driver-selectable setting enacts a 2-inch (50 mm) drop to aid passenger entry and exit when the vehicle is parked. The self-leveling feature helps with comfort and control, particularly when the vehicle is loaded with cargo and when trailering.
Magnetic Ride Control, a technology pioneered on exotic sports cars, enables both precise body control and handling capability. It is one of the fastest-reacting damping systems in the industry, using sensors to continually read the road and alter the damping rate of the shocks almost instantly. It reacts much faster than traditional shock absorbers to reduce bouncing, body roll and vibrations that can often resonate in a large SUV.
The available electronic Limited Slip Differential manages torque laterally across the vehicle for increased confidence on the road. The eLSD has the ability to preemptively manage axle torque and vehicle behavior based upon multiple vehicle inputs. If wheelslip is detected on either side, eLSD reacts quickly to shift power to the wheel with better traction. With cues taken from sports cars, the eLSD offers unmatched handling characteristics with an improved level of performance not seen before in a full-size SUV. On the Yukon, this new eLSD has the ability to engage the differential, offering the capability customers need in a more refined package. In 4WD LO, the eLSD operates at locking torque to prevent wheelslip in off-road conditions.
These technologies utilize performance car engineering to expand the bandwidth of the premium full-size SUV to deliver a wider array of all-terrain capabilities, secure performance in adverse weather and confidence in everyday driving.
Class-Leading Power and Interior Space
Yukon and Yukon XL drivers will have their choice among three engine options, highlighted by an all-new version of the lauded 6.2L V8 engine, delivering 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, more than any competitor. The standard engine is an all-new 5.3L V8. The 5.3L and 6.2L engines feature stop/start technology and new Dynamic Fuel Management that enables the engine to operate on two to eight cylinders, depending on demand, to optimize power and efficiency.
Yukon’s propulsion lineup expands for 2021, as drivers can also select an available all-new 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel engine. The new diesel builds on GMC’s expertise with Duramax turbo-diesels offered in Sierra, Sierra HD and Canyon models.
All three engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and GMC’s Electronic Precision Shift push-button gear selector. Yukon and Yukon XL are expected to be the most fuel-efficient full-size SUVs with the Duramax 3.0L turbo-diesel engine.
Gains in Interior Space
Long renowned for its substantial interior capacity, the 2021 Yukon grows even more in terms of usable space for customers. With a nearly 5-inch-longer (127 mm) wheelbase and 6.1 inch (155 mm) increase in overall length compared to the current model, it offers 41 percent more third-row legroom and 66 percent greater cargo volume behind the third row.
On the Yukon, space gain is achieved efficiently – the increase in overall length is less than 3 percent, while maximum cargo room increases by 30 percent. Yukon XL retains its crown as GMC’s roomiest SUV for both passengers and cargo, benefitting from a 4.1 inch (104 mm) increase in wheelbase. The result is an increase in both passenger and cargo space, with only a fractional change (less than 1%) to Yukon XL’s overall length. Both vehicles now have a lower, flatter cargo-loading floor allowing easier access to cargo space.
|2020 Yukon||2021 Yukon||Change|
|Overall Length (inches)||203.9||210.0||+6.1|
|Legroom – Third Row||24.8||34.9||+10.1|
|Cargo Room Behind Third Row (cubic feet)||15.3||25.5||+10.2|
|Maximum Cargo Room
|2020 Yukon XL||2021 Yukon XL||Change|
|Overall Length (inches)||224.3||225.2||+0.9|
|Legroom – Third Row (inches)||34.5||36.7||+2.2|
|Cargo Room Behind Third Row (cubic feet)||39.3||41.1||+1.8|
|Maximum Cargo Room
On both vehicles, access to the third row is easier than ever, thanks to new sliding second-row seats that improve ingress and egress. The second-row seat can slide 5.5 inches (140 mm), a first for Yukon passengers.
Yukon features key advanced technologies, including:
- Broader availability of active safety features, including Automatic Emergency Braking1standard on all models. Additional available features include HD Surround Vision Camera1, Rear Camera Mirror1, new Rear Pedestrian Alert1 and more.
- New trailering features designed to help improve the hitching experience and driving confidence when towing a trailer, including trailer profiles, trailer tire pressure/temperature monitoring and Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert1.
- New secure digital vehicle platform with five times the processing power to support the vehicles’ new and enhanced technologies.
The all-new 2021 Yukon and Yukon XL go on sale this summer with production taking place at General Motors’ Arlington, Texas assembly facility2. More details and complete specifications will be released closer to production.
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