The 2000 Yukon XL continues to build on GMC's desire to compete in the luxury SUV market. Just a few inches longer than its brother, the non-XL Yukon, this former Suburban -- based on a new GM platform first seen as the foundation of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups -- has the power, handling and indulgences to appeal to upscale SUV buyers. This is a complete overhaul, with the Yukon XL leaving its Chevy roots behind and stepping forward as a full GMC nameplate.
Available in a light-duty 1500 model and a heavy-duty 2500, the 2000 Yukon XL's contours have been reshaped to appear more muscular, foreshadowing the upgrades under the hood. The standard engine on all 1500 series models is the 4.8-liter Vortec V8, with 275 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. Optional on the 1500 and standard on 2500s is a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 engine, offering 285 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, 30 more horsepower than the larger 5700 Vortec it replaces. The standard engine on 2500s with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating over 7,200 lbs is the 6.0-liter Vortec V8, offering 300 horsepower at 4,800 rpm. All engines drive a four-speed automatic transmission, improved to increase oil life and to operate at lower temperatures than previous transmissions.
The towing capabilities of this GMC have been increased as well. The 5.3-liter and 6.0-liter engines show maximum trailer capacities of 9,000 and 10,500 pounds, respectively. A 23 percent stiffer body and chassis, independent front torsion bar suspension and rear self-leveling, five-link coil-spring underpinnings make for fewer squeaks and rattles and better handling. The three-quarter ton suspension uses multileaf springs and a semifloating rear axle.
The overall driving experience has been heightened with the aid of a wider track and shorter turning diameters on both the two- and four-wheel-drive versions and standard variable-effort power steering system. This last feature adapts the required steering effort to the vehicle speed, providing more responsive feel at highway speeds, but reduced effort for parking maneuvers.
Interior space has been increased, with more room all around. With three rows of seats, the XL can carry nine passengers. Either of the halves of the third-row seat can be folded or removed for greater cargo capacity. With the second- and third-row seats removed, you can drop a 4x8 sheet of plywood on the floor with the rear doors closed, due in part to the spare being moved under the cargo body. However, the base models aren't as nicely equipped on the inside, with plenty of plastic molding. To get the nice stuff, you have to upgrade to SLT trim. The Yukon XL still carries much of its former Suburban self, but this redesign has made it a better vehicle. There are still a few shortcomings, but with the optional upgrades, the powerful engine choices and a better driving feel it's worth a look-see.