- All-new platform, chassis and interior.
- Both versions are slightly longer and more spacious than previously.
- 3.0-litre Duramax available for the first time.
If you do trucks or SUVs, you’ve no doubt heard of or even considered a GMC product. More than likely, you know of Denali. It is a combination of GMC’s vastly improved standing in the market and Denali’s sought-after nature that have help GMC gain important market share in the US through increased sales. The GMC Sierra, Acadia, Terrain and Canyon have done quite well but this round belongs to the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL.
What’s most incredible about GMC is that not too long ago, it was a niche and nearly obscure brand reserved for pickup truck buyers only. Now, although 75% of GMC customers in Canada still shop for these trucks, some 30 years ago, the truck company launched the Yukon which has recently taken on a life of its own, or nearly.
Over the years, the Yukon managed to elevate itself above the Chevrolet Tahoe if mostly through the Denali trim, introduced in 1999. In fact, Denali has worked so well that all Denali trucks account for nearly 30% of all GMC sales. It has also aided in positioning the Yukon between the Tahoe and the Cadillac Escalade in GM’s full-size truck hierarchy. Though the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL share numerous components with the Tahoe and 2021 Chevy Suburban, it carries forth with a character all its own.
The new trucks feature the bold, I guess, new fascia first seen on the Sierra. On the Yukons however, the proportions are better balanced. The extra body panels and greenhouse scale down the otherwise oversized front grille. The big news design-wise is an entirely new interior. The surfaces and layout are far more contemporary and more in line with the discerning high-priced luxury truck buyers. To that point, the Denali trim will include a completely unique instrument panel, seats and four interior colour themes. As Denali has become the flagship trim and the reason why GMC holds the highest transaction price for a luxury brand in the US, this decision will surely inspire more buyers to move into the Denali way of life.
The cabin is also larger than before thanks to a nearly 127-mm-longer wheelbase and 145 mm increase in overall length. Third-row legroom grows by 41% while cargo space behind the row has increased by 66% thanks in large part to the fact that it stows flat into the floor for the first time. Overall cargo volume grows 30% over the outgoing model. New niceties include, available on the Denali, AT4 and SLT, a Power Sliding Center Console which can slide back up to 10 inches (254 mm) for extra storage options. Also offered are a huge 15-inch head’s up display and a 9-camera display view.
On the powertrain front, the 355-horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque 5.3-litre V8 is back, as is the 420-horsepower 6.2-litre V8. New to the 2021 Yukon is the addition of the 3.0-litre 6-cylinder Duramax diesel engine with 277 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. All are now mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
It’s important to reiterate that the 2021 GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL are truly all-new. The platforms are completely revised and now allow a fully independent suspension to find its way below the truck. This configuration has created many new possibilities for GMC engineers. Some of the new features are Magnetic Ride Control and a four-corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension.
These two elements increased the Yukon’s refinement level and off-road capabilities. In fact, also available is Active Response 4WD which, in conjunction with the magnetic ride and air suspension (raises clearance an extra 2 inches), enable Yukon to go almost anywhere. Active Response 4WD is also comprised of an electronically controlled rear limited slip differential and a central active differential which increases road handling and response, both on and off the beaten path.
The bottom line is that the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL are better equipped to respond to customer demands than ever. With trims like the very cool AT4 and the posh Denali (which unto itself outsells the Caddy Escalade in Canada), the new Yukon will shine very bright indeed.
Look for a brief first drive review shortly as we will get to sample the new trucks in controlled conditions.