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2018 GMC Yukon XL Overview
The GMC Yukon XL—and the Chevrolet Suburban, upon which it’s based—is an ideal choice for those looking for a family hauler or a tow vehicle with ample space for cargo and convenience features for passengers. The Yukon XL is the extended version of the Yukon, with an additional 14 inches of wheelbase length and 20 inches of overall length that result in even more space. For 2018, the Yukon XL is expected to remain largely the same, at least on the lower end of the range. For the upscale Denali trim, however, a number of changes are in store—and since half of all Yukon buyers spring for the Denali, it’s an important update.
The first thing you’ll notice on the updated 2018 Yukon XL Denali is the restyled grille, which is flanked by high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and LED signature lighting. The new grille provides better airflow the radiator for cooling, and behind it are active shutters that close when the car is at speed to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. Other changes to the Denali include a unique premium wood interior trim and a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Yukon XL Denali will still be powered by the familiar 6.2-liter V8 engine with an output of 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Instead of the old 8-speed transmission, the Denali gets a 10-speed automatic transmission developed jointly between Ford and GM that’s been making its way into models across both companies’ lineups. Fuel-economy figures aren’t out yet, but with the aerodynamic treatment up front and the new transmission it should be at least somewhat better than the 15 mpg city, 22 highway, and 17 combined achieved by the 2017 model.
Lower Yukon XL trims should still be equipped with the smaller 5.3-liter V8 engine rated at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The Yukon XL can be had in either rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or 4-wheel-drive (4WD) configuration, although its length makes it better suited for highway towing than for climbing any serious terrain. For those with towing needs, available features include a tow/haul mode, hill-start assist, automatic grade braking, and trailer-sway control. The Magnetic Ride Control system borrowed from the Chevrolet Corvette is another option, as are large 22-inch wheels that look a bit more at home on the Yukon XL than its slightly smaller Yukon sibling.
The Yukon XL makes effective use of its extra length when it comes to the interior. With such wide doors, accessing the rear seats is easy, and both SLT and Denali trims get power-folding seats for the second row. Cargo room in the back is cavernous, with 39.3 cubic feet of space when all seats are upright, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 121.7 cubic feet behind the front row.
As for features, the Denali is predictably the most impressive Yukon XL trim by a long shot—it comes with active noise cancellation, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, a power liftgate, and a premium stereo. Options include retractable side steps, a sunroof, a roof rack, and a rear entertainment system.
Last year, GMC improved the Yukon XL’s Enhanced Driver Alert package by adding forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. Standard equipment, meanwhile, includes a reversing camera, parking assist, and a front center airbag on models with front bucket seats. As for crash-test results, the 2017 model received a 4-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Institute (NHTSA) but only 3 out of 5 stars in the rollover category.
The 2018 Yukon XL remains a tempting choice for buyers looking for the cargo space and towing capacity of a suburban with extra luxury features. It’s slated to arrive at dealerships this fall.
Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
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