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Hybrid technology is a wonderful thing, simultaneously improving fuel mileage and vastly lowering emissions. Originally, it was only available on funky hatchbacks and midsize sedans, but the GMC Yukon Hybrid represents a radically different application for a gasoline-electric powertrain. Boasting a significant increase in fuel efficiency compared to a typical big ute -- and reduced emissions, of course -- the "green" Yukon does sacrifice serious off-roading ability, but this "sacrifice" would have about as much effect on the typical SUV owner as a power outage on the Amish.
Naturally, this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too SUV isn't cheap, with a price tag of more than $50,000 when new. Even with its significant gas savings, the Hybrid is a questionable economic choice over the regular Yukon, not to mention GM's large eight-passenger crossovers that offer more interior space and only a minor fuel-economy deficit. But if minimizing fuel consumption is your goal, the Yukon Hybrid is presently the large SUV of choice.
Current GMC Yukon Hybrid
The GMC Yukon Hybrid uses a gasoline/electric powertrain to earn a combined EPA fuel economy estimate of 21 mpg in combined driving, thanks almost entirely to its considerably improved city fuel consumption. The Hybrid's combined fuel economy rating is roughly 5 mpg higher than the ratings for equivalent standard Yukons.
Rather than going light on the power, GMC fitted the Yukon Hybrid with a burly 6.0-liter gas V8 that, combined with the added boost of the twin electric motors, supplies up to 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. A full "two-mode" hybrid, this Yukon has the ability to run up to 30 mph on electric power alone; hence the efficiency in city driving. The gas engine will step in when demand for power increases, but under lighter loads (such as freeway cruising) it shuts down four cylinders to maximize fuel economy.
The Yukon's hybrid system, which utilizes a novel transmission design, was co-developed with BMW and the now-defunct DaimlerChrysler. Depending on the driving situation, an electronically variable transmission (EVT) utilizes continuously variable gearing for light loads and switches to a more robust four-speed automatic transmission as demands increase, such as when towing a trailer. This unique duet of transmissions also allows the 4WD Yukon to have low-range gearing in conjunction with the four-speed automatic, an unusual attribute for a hybrid SUV. Its 6,000-pound towing capacity also blows away all competitors.
Because the hybrid system adds weight, GMC took measures to minimize the gain by using lightweight body panels and thinner front seats. Additionally, a low-slung front airdam that would look more at home on a Corvette helps aerodynamic efficiency at freeway speeds. This latter measure does compromise the Yukon Hybrid's approach angle, but since most SUVs don't venture far from paved roads, few folks are likely to care.
Otherwise, the GMC Yukon Hybrid is similar to a regular Yukon, meaning it shares its pros and cons. It can handle as many as eight passengers and provide almost 109 cubic feet of cargo space, but to get that space, one must physically remove the 50/50-split third-row seats. Those of competing SUVs, including the crossover Acadia, fold neatly into the floor and are more comfortable to boot.
In our reviews of the GMC Yukon Hybrid, we've found that it drives very much like a regular Yukon. Acceleration is on par and highway passing performance is, in fact, better than what a 5.3-liter V8-equipped Tahoe provides. The main downsides to the Yukon Hybrid, however, are price and absolute fuel economy. The Hybrid still costs thousands more than a similarly equipped regular Yukon. And the vehicle's combined fuel economy rating, even though it's a major improvement, is still a far cry from what most people would consider "good" fuel economy in the absolute sense.
Overall, we think conscientious consumers who don't need massive towing capacity would be better served with the considerably less expensive -- yet equally roomy and nearly as fuel-efficient -- GMC Acadia.
Used GMC Yukon Hybrid Models
The GMC Yukon Hybrid debuted for 2008. Changes have been limited since then, but used buyers should note that front side airbags were not available prior to 2012. A USB audio port was added for 2010, while the previous year saw Bluetooth and real-time traffic added.
If you are looking for newer years, visit our new GMC Yukon Hybrid page.