2009 GMC Yukon XL SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 GMC Yukon XL SUV

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GMC Yukon XL Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 5.3 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 310 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 0/0 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 GMC Yukon XL

  • It's as big as a whale and its third-row seats don't fold flat, but the 2009 GMC Yukon XL is an excellent choice for large families who need a full-size SUV with maximum seating, towing and cargo capacities.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Seating for up to nine passengers, massive interior space, smooth road manners, attractive interior with quality materials, powerful 6.2-liter V8 in the Denali.

  • Cons

    Third-row seat doesn't fold flat, portly curb weight dulls handling and performance (with smaller V8).

  • What's New for 2009

    For 2009, the GMC Yukon XL sees the six-speed automatic transmission fitted across the line, the debut of Bluetooth connectivity and XM Real Time Traffic, a more powerful engine for the Denali and a gaggle of new wheel options.

Full 2009 GMC Yukon XL Review

What's New for 2009

For 2009, the GMC Yukon XL sees the six-speed automatic transmission fitted across the line, the debut of Bluetooth connectivity and XM Real Time Traffic, a more powerful engine for the Denali and a gaggle of new wheel options.


Driving a full-size, full-fledged, heavy-duty SUV in today's socioeconomic climate is about as politically correct as blasting around Amish country on a loud Harley with a scantily clad Krista Allen riding on the back. High fuel prices and the constant thirst of supersized sport-utes mean that folks considering the 2009 GMC Yukon XL will probably actually need its serious passenger-, cargo- and trailer-hauling capabilities. Those who used to use 3-ton SUVs for little more than shuttling their two darlings to day care and Sparky the poodle to the groomer no longer need apply.

For its part, GMC is at least helping to blunt the pain at the gas pump. The 2009 version of the Yukon XL sports a few major and a couple of minor upgrades. The former include the fitment of the six-speed automatic transmission across all trim levels (not just the top-of-the-line Denali, as before) and a more powerful 6.2-liter V8 for the Denali. Compared to the previous four-speed unit, the six-speed automatic provides both better performance and increased fuel efficiency. Other improvements include the debut of Bluetooth connectivity and the availability of real-time traffic reporting for the navigation system.

Few vehicles (apart from its Chevy Suburban twin) can match the Yukon XL's nine-passenger maximum capacity and 46 cubic feet of cargo space, with all rows of seats in their upright and locked positions. Furthermore, with up to 9,600 pounds of towing capacity, this big GMC is ready for just about anything you can attach to its hitch. The Ford Expedition boasts dimensions similar to the Suburban's, but while the Ford offers slightly more torque, it seats only eight and is shy on horsepower compared to its competitor. There's also the Toyota Sequoia, which has plenty of brawn but not as much room as the Suburban. Overall, the 2009 GMC Yukon XL is a solid pick for those who need this type of vehicle's capabilities.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 GMC Yukon XL full-size SUV is available in 1500 (half-ton) and 2500 (3/4-ton) models, which are available in essentially three basic trim levels: SLE, SLT and Denali (1500 only).

The base SLE trim is actually comprised of sub-trims SLE1 and SLE2. The SLE1 comes well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, running boards, full power accessories, keyless entry, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat (with six-way power adjustments for the driver), dual-zone manual climate control, rear-seat air-conditioning, a trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and satellite radio. The SLE2 features captain's chairs for the first two rows, a power passenger seat and rear-seat audio controls (with headphone jacks).

The SLT trim is actually comprised of sub-trims SLT1 and SLT2. The SLT1 adds leather seating, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bose audio with a six-CD changer, power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle start and rear park assist. The SLT2 adds power lumbar adjustment for the front seats, heated first- and second-row seats and memory presets for the driver. The top-shelf Denali gains a unique grille, 20-inch alloy wheels, heated front and second-row seats and a premium Bose sound system with a six-CD changer.

Options for the standard Yukon include 20- and 22-inch wheels, heated seats, a sunroof and rear park assist (SLE only). Available for all trims are a navigation system, power-folding second-row seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a rearview camera and a power liftgate. Options for the Denali include a blind-spot alert system, heated and cooled seats, a variety of 20- and 22-inch wheel styles and a heated steering wheel.

Powertrains and Performance

Four V8s see duty on the Yukon XL. Most versions come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 310 hp and 335 pound-feet of torque. Optional for the 1500 SLT is a 6.0-liter V8 that pumps out 366 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. All 1500 engines are paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission.

Yukon 2500 models also come standard with a 6.0-liter V8, but it's a slightly different variant; it's rated at 352 hp and 382 lb-ft of torque. It's matched to a six-speed automatic as well, though this one's geared for enhanced towing capability. The Yukon XL Denali features a 6.2-liter V8 that's rated at 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. Two- and four-wheel-drive versions of the Yukon XL are available, except on the Denali, which is equipped with an all-wheel-drive system that doesn't have low-range gearing.

Fuel-mileage ratings range from 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for the Yukon with the 5.3 V8/2WD powertrain down to 12/19/14 for the Denali. Towing capacities for a properly equipped Yukon XL range from 8,100 pounds (2WD 1500) up to 9,600 pounds (2WD 2500).


Stability control with a rollover sensor is standard, as are antilock disc brakes, side curtain airbags and OnStar. A blind-spot alert system is optional on the Denali.

In government crash tests, the 2009 GMC Yukon XL was awarded five stars (the highest rating) for protecting the driver and passenger in a frontal collision. In side-impact tests, the Yukon XL again received five stars.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like the rest of GM's full-size SUVs and trucks, the current Yukon XL's interior is a marked improvement over the previous generation. Materials quality is good, fit and finish are excellent and the various controls, even those for the available luxury features, are logically placed.

Depending on how you equip the Yukon XL, it can seat anywhere from five to nine people -- a total surpassed only by full-size vans. Cargo capacity is also immense, with a maximum of nearly 138 cubic feet -- a full 40 cubes more than a Nissan Armada and a few more than the Ford Expedition EL. Although the Yukon XL's second row is available with a power-folding feature, the optional third-row seats (which seat three people) must be removed manually to optimize cargo space. Based on our experience, those heavy seats feel like they're constructed of cast iron, and removing them requires not only a strong back but the ability to wrestle them from deep inside the interior.

Driving Impressions

For such a big truck, the 2009 GMC Yukon XL is fairly quick, particularly in Denali guise. However, dipping into the power often will quickly pull mileage down to the low double digits. Its handling is more composed and its ride is smoother than past Yukons, but with its hefty curb weight, the Yukon XL doesn't feel particularly nimble around corners. We found the related Chevy Tahoe to be bested by the Ford Expedition in this regard, and it's a safe bet the Yukon XL would be equally outdone by the Expedition EL. However, when it's on an interstate and aimed for the horizon, there aren't many better cruisers than the 2009 Yukon XL. The cabin is quiet at speed, and the ride is comfortably controlled over bumps.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Unexplained sudden acceleration

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL SLT2 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A)

Purchased our vehicle new in 2009. Generally satisfied with the SUV. In December 2012 the vehicle unexpectedly accelerated without explanation. The car was towed to dealer - who could not re-create the defect. The vehicle has a bulletin out on a throttle defect but claim that it is due to a loss of power rather than a sudden acceleration. The manufacturer declined to pay for the cost of analysis of the defect, in spite of the throttle bulletin indicating they will pay the cost of the repair. Have 75K mi. on car but now wrestling with keeping it due to the concern. Expected another 2 years out of the vehicle, especially at this price for car - but now may have to find another option.

Great size and power

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

We bought this vehicle purely for the size and passenger capacity. From that aspect, the vehicle is great - love all the room, the overall design, and general looks of the vehicle. Also love the power and "go anywhere" feel of the vehicle. We have, however, had this car in the shop more than any vehicle we've owned. Constant accessory / electrical issues (power seats, vented seats, heated seats, power door locks, driver air, power mirror). It still looks great and we still enjoy taking it on long trips when it's working, but if there was another good option with this much space and power, we'd take it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

An okay suv

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL SLT2 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A)

Bought the 09 to replace my 05. My biggest complaints relate to interior space use usability. There are no storage spaces for things like sunglasses. The 05 wasn't great, but it has thee good storage spaces in the dash. For some reason GMC decided to go with tiny buttons to control climate and radio. It has taken me a while to get used to the new layout, but the buttons are just bad, especially if you have gloves on. I am looking forward to towing my 30' camper. The 05 did well, I hope the 09 does better.

Fun to drive

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL SLT2 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A)

Bought our Yukon in Sept. to have another towing vehicle and for family trips. Its been great. We are enjoying the cylinder shut down feature (v8 to v4) as it gets mileage around 17 when warmed up. Comfort and ride are great (go for the autoride). Enjoying the dual row heated seats and the autostart. Would like to see more details for the money (blind spot monitoring or mirrors, pin lights for night time cabin lighting, more cubbies for storage). I too would suggest moving the compass/temp back to the center. The overall fit and finish has been very good with only one problem with a plate cover in the inside the door handle. Vehicle has met our needs for volume, handling and comfort.

Great driving vehicle

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL SLT1 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A)

The handling is great. Great improvement with the Nav-- gives great definition to detail. The heated seats work great. Backup camera gives excellent details to items behind your vehicle and is a great help to hooking up to the boat trailer. Vehicle is a whole lot more than I expected.

Love it

by on
Vehicle: 2009 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

Wife drives an '07 Suburban, and I traded my '08 MDX in on this Denali XL when we had baby #4 (too hard to use the 3rd row). Love the Denali, but have to say the '07 Suburban is faster off the line by a considerable amount, even after giving up about 90 HP. Must be the AWD and 20" wheels on the Denali. And as much as I love the exhaust note on the Denali, some folks may not appreciate that and go for the relatively quiet 5.3L engine in the Suburban or Yukon XL.

Talk About The 2009 Yukon XL

2009 GMC Yukon XL Discussions See all Started By

I have a 2009 Yukon XL with 92310 Miles and with 40% left til Oil needs changing. the dipstick is dry. Sent it to dealership for Oil Change and Oil Comsumption test....

I have a 2009 Yukon XL and I am getting that same intermittent high pitched whine from my rear speakers that is more pronounced during acceleration. Sometimes it even persists when I turn the radio of...

Now our lease on our volvo wagon is close to coming to an end. I am thinking Suburban/Yukon XL. What should we truly be paying? Is a 2009 better than a 2008? The 2009 do have the 6 speed, that has to ...

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