Effortless power and presence
One look at the 2019 GMC Yukon Graphite Performance Edition, and you’ll immediately notice its imposing presence. Even blacked out, it’s hard to miss this hulking boulevardier thanks to its size and commanding looks. With a new generation of General Motors’ full-size, body-on-frame SUVs on the way, we’re taking one last look at the GMC Yukon to see whether it remains competitive against its key competitors.
In addition to cosmetic touches including black 22-inch alloy wheels, side steps, and a black chrome grille, the Yukon Graphite Performance Edition adds a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission and Magnetic Ride Control suspension. At the track, the 5,705-pound (2,588-kg) Yukon hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds before crossing the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 98.3 mph (158.2 km/h). Associate road test editor Erick Ayapana complimented the quick-shifting transmission and sweet-sounding engine. Even in traffic, the 10-speed rarely gets jerky or flat-footed. With the powerful V-8, the Yukon accelerated with authority in situations requiring you to put the pedal to the metal. Ayapana also noted good brake pedal feel and tires that bite well, enabling the Yukon to stop from 60 mph in 129 feet; however, it dives quite a bit during hard braking.
Road test editor Chris Walton called the Yukon a “surprisingly maneuverable battleship” with precise steering that required little correction; it can even pull itself around a corner using the front wheels in four high. The 2019 Yukon finished the figure-eight course in 27.3 seconds at an average 0.64 g and generated 0.77 g on the skidpad. Because of its size and top-heavy nature, the Yukon bucks around when pushed hard. Sudden turns and high-speed evasive maneuvers cause it to lose stability and wobble. Magnetic Ride Control smooths out the ride, isolating the passenger cabin from small road imperfections. The solid rear axle, however, hops and skips around too much over big bumps. Competitors with semi- or fully independent suspension setups like the Ford Expedition and Dodge Durango handle broken pavement better, rarely tossing passengers around.
The 2019 Yukon’s interior screams mass market despite our tester’s $74,790 USD as-tested price. Even with the squishy dash and padded armrests and upper door panels, the cabin lacks the ambiance you expect from something with a jaw-dropping price tag. Buttons, stalks, and hard plastics used on the center console and aft of the front seats came right out of the General Motors parts bin. Wind noise gets excessive at highway speed because of the Yukon’s boxy shape, and the 22-inch alloy wheels cause some tire noise on poorly maintained surfaces.
Our tester came in a seven-seat configuration with abundant head- and legroom in the first two rows. Unfortunately, the front seats and optional second-row captain’s chairs are more like barstools; you sit on top of them instead of in them. With all seats in place, you can’t carry more than a couple grocery bags, and the underfloor storage is shallow. The rear floor is raised, and the second row is fixed (it reclines but doesn’t slide fore and aft), so the third row is very tight. Adult passengers would have to sit with their knees uncomfortably close to their faces. Both the Ford Expedition and Dodge Durango have better interior packaging, giving them more usable third rows and more cargo space with all seats in place. The long-wheelbase Yukon XL accommodates people and gear better, but it costs $2,800 USD more than the standard model.
GM’s multimedia systems are some of the easiest to learn. The Yukon’s interface features a quick-responding 8.0-inch touchscreen with giant icons you can easily hit. A simple dash layout with redundant buttons for nearly every function simplifies the user experience, and the seven USB ports ensure your devices stay charged. A nine-speaker Bose audio system lacks depth and surround sound capability. Like most Bose units, this one has too much bass and treble even at its lowest level.
In terms of safety and convenience tech, GMC restricts a few driver assistance features to higher trims. Adaptive cruise control? Exclusive to the Denali trim. Automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist? Part of an optional package on the SLE and standard on the SLT Standard Edition and higher models. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert? Only on the SLT and Denali variants. Pedestrian detection and rear automatic emergency braking? Not offered. In our tester, we found that the lane keeping assist pingpongs you between the lines or jerks you back in when it realizes you’ve gone too far out of your lane. Forward collision warning blares out too many false alarms in city driving regardless of the sensitivity level selected.
Immense power and imposing looks give the 2019 GMC Yukon Graphite Performance Edition plenty of street credibility. However, you sacrifice so much for the sake of looks and power. Dated underpinnings put the Yukon behind its competitors, all of which offer superior ride, handling, and build quality. Erratic driver assistance tech and poor interior packaging further denigrates the big body-on-frame SUV’s viability, especially in an age when smartly engineered crossovers offer more space in a smaller package.
|2019 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$74,790|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||6.2L/420-hp/460-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,705 lb (52/48%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||203.9 x 80.5 x 74.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.2 sec @ 98.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||129 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.77 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.3 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/22/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||241/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.16 lb/mile|