Full 2010 GMC Yukon XL Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the GMC Yukon XL sees a simplified trim level lineup as well as a few equipment changes; highlights include new audio systems (with a standard USB port) and the adoption of front side airbags.
In today's social and economic climate, cruising around in a virtually empty, full-size heavy-duty SUV is about as politically correct as wearing a rabbit fur coat to a PETA convention. Volatile fuel prices and the big appetite of supersized SUVs mean that folks considering the 2010 GMC Yukon XL will likely really need its amazing passenger-, cargo- and trailer-hauling capabilities. Hollywood types who previously employed 6,000-pound utes for little more than dropping off Precious to day care and Fifi to the dog groomer no longer need apply.
Introduced more than seven decades ago under the Suburban name (which its Chevrolet cousin still uses), GMC's brute of a ute stays true to it roots. It still uses a rugged, body-on-frame truck chassis with a solid rear axle and is propelled by a big V8 engine. Yet despite its initially intimidating size, the Yukon XL has amenable road manners, thanks to its easy steering, compliant ride and quiet cabin on long freeway cruises. This year, GMC streamlines things a bit by dropping the sublevels (e.g., SLE1) of the SLE and SLT trims, essentially retaining them as option packages. Other changes include new audio systems (which all have a standard USB port) as well as standard front side airbags.
Few vehicles (apart from its Chevy Suburban twin) can match the Yukon XL's nine-passenger maximum capacity and all-seats-up 46 cubic feet of cargo space. Furthermore, with nearly 10,000 pounds of maximum towing capacity, this big GMC is ready for just about anything you can attach to its hitch. The Ford Expedition EL boasts a fold-flat rear seat and dimensions similar to the Suburban's, but it seats only eight and is shy on horsepower compared to the GMC. There's also the Toyota Sequoia, which has plenty of brawn but not as much room as the Suburban. For those who have massive passenger, hauling and towing requirements, it doesn't get much better than the 2010 GMC Yukon XL.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 GMC Yukon XL full-size SUV is available in 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 models, which are available in three trim levels: SLE, SLT and Denali (1500 only).
The base SLE trim 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 USB port, CD player and satellite radio. The SLT adds power front bucket seats, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bose audio with a six-CD changer, power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror (with a built-in rearview camera) and rear park assist.
The top-shelf Denali gains unique styling touches that include lower body cladding and a unique grille, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats with a power-folding feature, a larger display for the rearview camera and a navigation system.
Some of the standard features found on the upper trim levels can be added to the lower ones as optional equipment. Other options (depending on trim) include 20- and 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, a navigation system, a side blind-zone alert system, second-row captain's chairs and a rear-seat entertainment system. Options for the Denali include a variety of 20- and 22-inch wheel styles, a sunroof, an additional third-row screen for the rear-seat entertainment system and a heated steering wheel.
Powertrains and Performance
Three V8s see duty in the Yukon XL. Most versions come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. All 1500 engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Yukon 2500 models come standard with a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 352 hp and 382 lb-ft of torque. The SLT 2500 can also be had with an available 6.2-liter V8 that's rated at 395 hp and 417 lb-ft. They are also matched to a six-speed automatic, though this one's geared for enhanced towing capability.
The Yukon XL Denali features a more powerful 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. Properly equipped, a Yukon XL 2500 can tow up to 9,600 pounds.
Stability control with a rollover sensor is standard, as are antilock disc brakes, side curtain airbags, front side airbags and OnStar. A blind-spot alert system is optional on the upper trims.
In government crash tests, the 2010 GMC Yukon was awarded a top five-star rating for its protection of occupants in frontal collisions. Side-impact testing with the new side-impact airbags hadn't been performed as of this writing, but last year's Suburban still earned a top five-star rating for side-impact protection.
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 and fit and finish are both solid, 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 four 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.
For such a big truck, the 2010 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 one might suspect, 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 2010 Yukon XL. The cabin is quiet at speed, and the ride is comfortably controlled over bumps.