2019 GMC Yukon XL

What’s new

  • A 6.2-liter V8 engine now optional for the midlevel SLT trim
  • New Graphite Edition package for SLT
  • Part of the third Yukon XL generation introduced for 2015

Pros & Cons

  • Seats up to nine passengers
  • Plenty of cargo capacity, even with all the seats deployed
  • High towing ratings
  • Size, weight and length make it unwieldy around town
  • Slow gas pedal response makes base engine feel weaker than it's rated
  • Cargo space utility is limited by high load floor
MSRP Range
$52,400 - $72,500

Save as much as $8,321
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Which Yukon XL does Edmunds recommend?

The base SLE trim can carry nine passengers with its available front-row middle seat, but it's limited in the features and options it offers. You'll get a better allotment with the midlevel SLT. It strikes a good balance of comfort, convenience and safety. You can also get the optional big V8 engine on it, without going all-in on a Denali trim.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.4 / 10

Nine-passenger capacity combined with strong towing power is hard to come by, and it's what makes the 2019 GMC Yukon XL a great choice for big families with big toys. Aside from a few other truck-based large SUVs, there isn't anything else available that can match the Yukon XL's skill set. The trade-off is that the Yukon's imposing mass and traditional SUV design compromise maneuverability, fuel economy and ride comfort.

But you expect as much in an SUV of this size, and the Yukon XL's utility is undeniable. Even with the third-row seats deployed, it has 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space available. Fold down the second and third rows, and you've got a whopping 121.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space at your disposal. If towing is your thing, the Yukon XL can lug up to 8,300 pounds.

All of this makes the Yukon XL a fairly mission-specific vehicle. Sure, for a big SUV, we've found it easy to drive, as long as you're going straight. But there's no escaping the Yukon XL's roots. Navigating tight parking lots and city streets requires caution, calculation, and some amount of faith in the space around the vehicle. The truck-based suspension can't deliver the carlike ride comfort of a crossover, nor is the Yukon a picture of fuel efficiency.

You might want to check out the Ford Expedition Max. It has just as much capability as the Yukon, if not more, but is a more refined and upscale vehicle overall. But overall the Yukon XL's size, power and style will undoubtedly hit the mark for a very specific buyer.

GMC Yukon XL models

The 2019 GMC Yukon XL is a full-size SUV offered in SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. The smaller Yukon is covered in a separate review. Most Yukon XLs seat eight passengers, but an optional front bench seat on the SLE trim increases the capacity to nine. Second-row bucket seats are available on the SLT trim and standard on the Denali; they reduce passenger capacity to seven.

The SLE base trim starts with a 5.3-liter V8 engine (355 horsepower, 383 lb-ft of torque) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is optional.

Standard SLE features include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, side steps, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, and a trailer hitch receiver with a wiring harness. Standard interior features include tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and 60/40-split folding second- and third-row seats.

Also included is a 110-volt power outlet, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, OnStar communications (with a 4G LTE connection and Wi-Fi hotspot), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with CD player, satellite and HD radio and five USB inputs.

The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision warning with automatic low-speed emergency braking, a vibrating safety-alert driver's seat, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning and intervention. The Convenience package adds a power-operated liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and a universal garage door opener.

The SLT trim is broken down into SLT Standard Edition and SLT subtrims. The Standard Edition includes all of the above, along with leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat and driver-seat memory functions. The SLT further gets you hands-free operation for the rear liftgate, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and power-folding second- and third-row seats.

For 2019, the SLT also gets two new packages. The optional Graphite Edition package for SLT includes 22-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior trim (side steps, grille), while the Graphite Performance Edition boosts performance and comfort with a 6.2-liter V8 engine (420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque), a 10-speed transmission, a heavy-duty alternator, Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, a head-up display, a customizable gauge cluster, active noise cancellation system, and upgraded cabin air filtration.

The top-of-the-line Denali trim builds on the features listed above, including those from the Graphite Performance Edition, and adds 20-inch wheels, a two-speed transfer case (4WD models), xenon headlights, a trailer brake controller, power-folding second-row bucket seats, a navigation system, a wireless smartphone charging pad and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system.

The optional Denali Ultimate package bundles 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, power side steps, adaptive cruise control, a rear seat entertainment system with DVD player, and an extended satellite radio and traffic information subscription, among other items.

Several Denali features are offered as options on SLT trims, while options for SLE and SLT trims include 22-inch wheels, navigation, and a heavy-duty trailering package with a unique axle ratio, trailer brake controller and a self-leveling suspension.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the GMC Yukon XL Denali (6.2L V8 | 6-speed automatic | 4WD).

Scorecard

Overall7.4 / 10
Driving7.0
Comfort7.5
Interior7.5
Utility8.0
Technology8.0

Driving

7.0

The Yukon XL is easy to drive, though its sheer size makes it unwieldy. The standard 5.3-liter V8 is sufficient, but the available 6.2-liter V8 responds quickly to demands for power thanks to the smart 10-speed automatic. In fact, its acceleration will surprise you if you're not careful with the throttle, and its 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds is close to the times of its quickest competitors.

Light steering keeps the SUV maneuverable, although there's a numb spot near center that demands extra driver attention when cruising the freeway. The big Yukon stays relatively flat in corners, and it gets around turns without feeling floaty. The braking performance is good for the segment, though there's a lot of pedal travel.

Comfort

7.5

Our tester felt much too stiff and busy on the road. It doesn't float or bounce, but the trade-off is that bumps jar the entire vehicle, a distinct weakness compared to many competitors. Beyond that, the Yukon XL has a comfortable cabin. There's very little noise, whether from the road or wind, and the engine fades into the background when cruising. The industrial-strength air conditioning can easily handle the big cabin, and the climate control layout is straightforward.

You also get wide, flat seats with a good amount of cushioning, even in the third row. While they're comfortable, the flat second-row captain's chairs mean passengers may need to brace themselves when going around corners.

Interior

7.5

The upright driving position is commanding, while the high dash keeps the gauges in easy view. The primary controls are easy to find, but many secondary controls are grouped oddly and distract you from the road. Thankfully, everything is clearly labeled. The thick roof pillars and sheer size cause visibility issues, but big mirrors, parking sensors and a backup camera help.

There's plenty of room in all three rows, although the fixed second-row thrones mean legroom isn't adjustable. The trade-off is the seats fold out of the way, allowing easy third-row access. The very long doors make access easy, provided they can be opened all the way, but tight parking spaces can be tough.

Utility

8.0

The Yukon XL excels with almost 40 cubic feet of trunk space behind the third row, and about triple that if you fold all the seats down. However, the load floor is very high, so loading and unloading can be a chore. There's a lot of space for small items in the cabin, especially in the massive center-console box, but some competitors offer more options for separating and organizing items. The top anchors for car seats are placed awkwardly, and installed car seats hamper access to the third row.

The max towing capacity of 8,100 pounds is above average but still short of class leaders. You can get all the features and connectors you need for towing but not the advanced towing aids of newer competitors. 

Technology

8.0

GMC's tech falls in the middle for the large SUV class. The touchscreen is relatively small, but it responds quickly and is straightforward to navigate. The Yukon XL has standard smartphone integration and OnStar, which includes a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. There are also tons of charge points around the cabin, especially in higher trims. The optional roof-mounted flip-down screen supports Blu-ray.

Unfortunately, basic active safety technology is an optional extra rather than standard. To get a full set of driver aids, you'll have to go for high trim levels and add options. And even then features such as adaptive cruise control feel unsophisticated by current standards. And you can't get certain useful features such as a surround-view camera.


Consumer reviews

There are no consumer reviews for the 2019 GMC Yukon XL.

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    See all 2019 GMC Yukon XL features & specs

    Safety

    Our experts’ favorite Yukon XL safety features:

    Forward Collision Alert
    Issues an alert if a potential collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian seems imminent, and can initiate braking if necessary.
    Safety Alert Seat
    Generates vibrating pulse patterns in the seat cushion to alert the driver to potential collisions on the left or right side of car.
    Teen Driver
    Enhances safety for young drivers. Includes custom speed alerts and limits on audio volume.

    GMC Yukon XL vs. the competition

    2019 GMC Yukon XL

    2019 GMC Yukon XL

    2019 Ford Expedition

    2019 Ford Expedition

    GMC Yukon XL vs. Ford Expedition

    The Expedition Max is Ford's extended-length Expedition, and it measures up with the Yukon XL in most categories. Instead of a big V8, the Expedition uses a turbocharged V6 to make 20 more hp than the Yukon's 5.3-liter V8. It also makes much more torque: 470 pound-feet. Those numbers mean something when it comes time to tow. The Max also returns better fuel economy and has a roomier third-row seat.

    Compare GMC Yukon XL & Ford Expedition features

    GMC Yukon XL vs. Chevrolet Suburban

    The Yukon and Suburban are corporate and mechanical twins, so this choice comes down to whether you want to pay the same money for a midlevel Yukon XL SLT or a loaded Suburban Premier. The Suburban doesn't offer the luxury touches and details of the Yukon. So if you want to ultimate comfort for long trips, the Yukon XL is the one to get. But if you don't mind a little less flair and polish in your cabin surroundings, you can load up on nearly all of the tech and convenience features for the same price, or less if you look at lower Suburban trims.

    Compare GMC Yukon XL & Chevrolet Suburban features

    GMC Yukon XL vs. Nissan Armada

    The Armada flies under the radar in this segment, and that's a shame. With a recently new V8 and an impressive set of safety features, the Armada punches above its weight, especially when considering its high-quality interior and its ride quality, which is noticeably less trucklike that some of its competitors. All this and it doesn't sacrifice towing capability either. On the downside, the Armada's third row isn't exceptionally roomy, and its V8 is thirsty.

    Compare GMC Yukon XL & Nissan Armada features