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Available Yukon SUV Models
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The two-door model gets the ax this year. Rear-seat passengers are cooled by a newly optional rear air conditioning system. A host of new standard features has been added, including carpeted floor mats. Three new colors spruce up the outside a bit, and second-generation airbags are standard inside.
Until this year, General Motors had a lock on the midsize sport-utility market, but couldn't build enough to meet demand because of a serious lack of production capacity. The result? Inflated prices as dealers struggled to keep the Yukon and its Chevrolet Tahoe twin in stock. Then, GM refurbished a plant in Arlington, Texas, (which used to produce full-size Buick, Chevrolet, and Cadillac sedans) and Yukon/Tahoe production was effectively doubled.
Unfortunately for GM, the additional plant capacity may have come a bit too late. Ford released the midsized Expedition last year, and this F-150 pickup-based SUV is more refined but less powerful than the GM twins. This year, Dodge releases the Durango, based on the fresh Dakota platform and sure to be slightly smaller and easier to maneuver than the GM and Ford behemoths. And Lincoln is assaulting our eyesight with the overdone Navigator, which is currently selling faster than condoms at a drive-in theater. Since four-door SUVs sell much better than two-door models, the smaller Yukon has been retired from the lineup this year.
In the size race, the remaining Yukon four-door fits squarely between the Jimmy compact and the big-bruiser Suburban wagons. Squint your eyes, in fact, and the difference between a Yukon and Suburban begins to evaporate, despite the latter's extra 20 inches of steel. Ford's Expedition is a bit larger than the Yukon, while the Dodge Durango is slightly smaller. Both of these competitors offer eight-passenger seating, which is not available on the Yukon.
Yukon's interior has been borrowed from the full-size Sierra pickup. This year, the airbags are of the reduced force second generation variety. Carpeted floor mats and a carpeted reversible cargo mat are standard equipment. Also standard for 1998 is a power driver's seat, a theft-deterrent system, an electrochromic rearview mirror, and a new automatic 4WD system on K-series models. Rear air conditioning is newly optional, as is a Luxury Convenience Package that includes heated seats, heated exterior mirrors, a power passenger seat, and a HomeLink transmitter.
How does the Yukon stack up against the Expedition? The Ford is more refined and comfortable, but we prefer Yukon's dated exterior styling and more maneuverable size. Smooth overhead-cam engines power the Ford, but we prefer the torque and roar of GMC's Vortec 5700 V8. Neither is easy to climb into, particularly without running boards, but the Yukon's lower ride height makes access much easier. As drivers, we prefer the Yukon's powerful engine over the Expedition's refinement. Naturally, though, you can still expect truck-style ride and handling, but reasonable comfort on the road.
With new competitors arriving annually and increased production capacity, GMC dealers have little reason to gouge customers on Yukon pricing. Just threaten to go down the street and pick up a new Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, or Dodge Durango; the dealer should be eager to play ball.
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