Last night, I was on hand in Vail, Colorado for the unveiling of the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon, where we got to see the Yukon, Yukon XL, and the first-ever Yukon AT4 in the flesh. As you can see, the new Yukon got the looks in the family (sorry Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban), with a bold, new exterior design that’s certain to turn heads. In my opinion, it’s the best looking full-size SUV on the market!
The 2021 Yukon lineup is headlined by an all-new and more upscale Denali. As you probably know, the Denali sub-brand has been wildly successful for GMC, accounting for nearly 60% of all Yukon sales. This latest Yukon Denali delivers a first-class experience, with an exclusive interior that features a completely new instrument panel, unique seats and a choice of four unique color themes, outfitted with premium and authentic materials.
Ride quality also gets a big upgrade, thanks to a new multilink independent rear suspension, which replaces the rear solid axle. Available four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension offers ride-height adjustments of up to 4 inches total, as well as an automatic self-leveling feature. In addition, Magnetic Ride Control dampening uses 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 2021 Yukon Denali debuts a more confident stance and improved proportions enabled by its longer wheelbase and new chassis. With a 4.9 inch-longer wheelbase and 6.1 inch increase in overall length compared to the current model, it adds over 10 inches of legroom in the third row and more than 10 cubic feet of additional cargo space behind the third row.
While the Yukon XL sees smaller size adjustments, with a 4.1 inch increase in wheelbase and a 0.9 inch increase in overall length, these changes result in an additional 23 cubic feet of cargo space overall, making GMC’s roomiest SUV for both passengers and cargo even roomier. Both vehicles now have a lower, flatter cargo-loading floor, allowing for easier access to cargo space.
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, a first for Yukon passengers.
Yukon and Yukon XL drivers will have their choice among three engine options. There’s an all-new version of the lauded 6.2L V8 engine, delivering 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The standard engine is an all-new 5.3L V8. Both 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.
But that’s not all. There’s also an all-new 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel engine, which builds on GMC’s expertise with Duramax turbo-diesels offered in Sierra, Sierra HD and Canyon models. The new Yukon and Yukon XL are expected to be the most fuel-efficient full-size SUVs when equipped with the Duramax 3.0L turbo-diesel engine.
All three engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and GMC’s push-button gear selector. I get that they’re trying to save on space, but I’m personally not a fan of these alternative shifters. But at least it’s better than those knob/dial shifters..
As you would expect, the 2021 Yukon Denali offers the highest level of premium features and content, including a high-definition surround camera system with 9 camera views, a 15-inch multicolor head-up display, magnetic ride control, a Power Sliding Center Console, and a full suite of active safety technologies including rear pedestrian alert.
For those drivers planning on trailering, new features designed to help improve the hitching experience and driving confidence when towing a trailer include trailer profiles, trailer tire pressure/temperature monitoring and Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert.
Premium available options for the Yukon Denali include 22-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, the aforementioned Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, as well as the all-new Active Response 4WD System, which seamlessly sends the optimal torque to each wheel to improve traction while driving off-road or in slick conditions like rain and snow.
Lastly, we can’t forget about the rugged Yukon AT4, which is sure to attract a whole new crowd that might never have considered a Yukon before. Following in the footsteps of the Sierra AT4, the new Yukon AT4 is designed for those who want to get down and dirty with their rigs.
The 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 of ground clearance. At this max height, the Yukon AT4 offers a nearly 32-degree approach angle for added off-road capability. Visually, it 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
Key features of the AT4 include a 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.
All in all, there’s a whole lot to like about the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon. The huge SUV delivers on all fronts, giving buyers more (cargo and passenger) room, luxury, and technology, not to mention off-road capabilities if they opt for the AT4, which I predict will be a big seller.
Full specifications and pricing for the 2021 GMC Yukon, along with information on lower trim levels, will be released closer to production, which is slated for this summer. For reference, the outgoing model starts at around $50,000.
What do you think of the 2021 GMC Yukon?