Yukon Do It: 2015 GMC Yukon is made for the long haul

Sections: Fuel Economy, Powertrain

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2015 GMC Yukon Photo Shoot 011

It’s big. It’s boxy. It’s a good road-trip companion. It’s the 2015 GMC Yukon. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

Talk about your studies in contrast: Try going from the small, svelte Subaru BRZ to the 2015 GMC Yukon back-to-back. Polar opposites, they are. Where the BRZ is built for speed but can be annoying on the highway, the GMC Yukon practically begs to be taken on long highway trips.

Thank the same quiet-tuning tech our 2014 GMC Sierra had. It’s old-school chassis know-how updated for the modern era. Wheel wells are lined in a sound-absorbing, weather-hardy material. Doors are triple-sealed. There’s probably several inches of sound-absorbing material in every cavity where it could be stuffed. The first time my wife got in the Yukon after we spent a week riding around in the small, road- and engine noise-filled cabin of the BRZ, her reaction was the same as mine: “You mean we can actually talk like normal? We don’t have to shout at each other anymore?”

The GMC Yukon we tested had General Motors’ volume V8 gasser under the hood: At 5.3 liters of displacement, it made 355 horsepower at 5,600 RPM and a meaty 383 ft-lbs of torque at 4,100 RPM. The GM standard six-speed automatic transmission did a good job finding the correct ratio most of the time, loping along while cruising highways at a leisurely 1,500 RPM. Like Brett’s experience with a 6.2-liter V8 in a GMC Sierra Denali, the 5.3-liter engine’s fuel-saving cylinder deactivation went off without a hitch both ways, making an imperceptible transition between eight-cylinder and four-cylinder operation and back again as demanded by my right foot.

That V4/8 setup pays dividends, too. I found that out by keeping an eye on the gauge cluster’s central screen, which had a mode that would show how I’m doing on fuel economy moment-by-moment on a moving bar graph, plus show my moving 50-mile average fuel economy compared to my all-time best 50-mile segment. This is something I’ve experienced in other GM cars and SUVs with the Chevy MyLink or GMC or Buick IntelliLink systems, and it’s a feature I really quite like for its ability to show you which way your mileage is trending.

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The interior of the 2015 GMC Yukon is a nice place to spend some time. Plush leather seats are all-day comfortable in the first and second rows, not-so-comfortable in the third row unless you’re a toddler and/or you have no legs. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

On the highway, with the cruise control set at 67 MPH, I managed to eke out a 50-mile best of 24 MPG with the GMC Yukon. For a huge, boxier-than-ever SUV, that’s stupendous. At that rate, a road trip wouldn’t hurt too much when it comes to fuel costs. Combine that downright decent fuel-saving capability with the GMC Yukon’s nearly 6,000 lbs of road-hugging weight, and the 24 MPG feat becomes all the more impressive.

That weight made the GMC Yukon a solid player in almost any situation. The driver’s seat was a high vantage point from which you could see over most traffic smaller than semi-sized, and the Yukon’s greenhouse glass area was plentiful to give a good line of sight all around the vehicle’s front half. The rear three-quarter areas of the 2015 GMC Yukon suffered a sizable blind spot, no matter how I moved my outside rear view mirrors. Thankfully, an excellent blind spot monitor system combined with haptic feedback in the driver’s seat keeps you out of trouble.

Bottom line: The 2015 GMC Yukon, whether you like its new design cues or not, is a fine road trip candidate. It’s quiet, large enough to take a couple of kids or friends — put the shortest of your party in the third row, lest you earn a new enemy for your life — and it has great infotainment features including a Bose speaker array and rear-seat entertainment screen. More about the infotainment and telematics features of the 2015 GMC Yukon later. For now, if it sounds like your next road trip machine, you’d best start saving up $68,000 — our tester’s price with options.

Disclosure: GMC provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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