Used 2002 GMC Yukon XL Review

Edmunds expert review

Not the biggest full-size SUV, but in terms of horsepower, functionality and features, easily the best.

What's new for 2002

Three-quarter-ton models equipped with the 8100 V8 get the new 4L85 heavy-duty transmission, while the previous 4L80 version also gets upgraded with more durable internal parts. A more efficient starter and a stronger steering gear housing have also been added to all gas engines along with flexible fuel capability for the 5300 V8.

Vehicle overview

When it comes to full-size SUVs, it doesn't get much bigger than the Yukon XL. Coming in at over 18 feet long and weighing almost 3 tons, the XL comes in both half-ton and three-quarter-ton models, with either two- or four-wheel drive. The Yukon XL boasts seating capacity for nine and the ability to tow a 12,000-pound trailer when properly equipped, making it one of the most versatile sport-utes available. Accomplishing such heroic feats of hauling requires serious muscle under the hood and the XL has the goods. Half-ton models get a 5.3-liter V8 rated at 285 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, while three-quarter-ton models get a choice of either a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 320 hp, or an 8.1-liter brute that delivers 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. GMC is quick to point out that even the smaller 6.0-liter engine boasts a higher horsepower number than the V10 available in the Ford Excursion, while the 8.1-liter engine enjoys a solid 30-point lead in both the horsepower and torque race. An all-new 4L85 heavy-duty four-speed transmission is now standard with the 8100 V8, while a stronger version of the 4L80 four-speed remains standard on all 6.0-liter engines.

All half-ton Yukon XL models utilize an independent torsion bar front suspension and a five-link coil-spring rear setup that delivers a satisfying ride whether you're on the highway or off the beaten path. Three-quarter-ton models utilize the same torsion bar setup up front, but rely on two-stage Smooth Ride leaf springs in the rear that provide a comfortable ride while retaining the capacity for heavier loads. An optional trailering package adds even higher-rate springs and retuned shocks for better handling of extreme loads.

Buyers can choose between two different trim levels: base SLE or uplevel SLT. SLEs come standard with front and rear air conditioning, aluminum alloy wheels and deep-tinted glass. Add to that power windows, locks and doors; a nine-speaker AM/FM CD stereo; and an electrochromic rearview mirror with an integrated compass, and it's easy to see why these make great family vehicles. Step up to SLT trim, and you'll enjoy leather upholstery, heated driver and passenger front seats with power lumbar and lateral support, electronic climate control and the OnStar communications system.

An optional traction control system keeps 2WD XLs on the road when the going gets slippery, and standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS help stop the big sport-ute quickly in panic situations. Front and side airbags are standard, and LATCH child seat attachment anchors are now provided for more secure fastening of second-row child seats.

When it comes to providing plenty of room for a large group of passengers, it's hard to beat the Yukon XL. Although we would like to see higher-quality interior pieces and an overall improved level of fit-and-finish, we still love the big sport-ute. The wide-range of engines and high level of standard equipment make it a nice place to spend time on long trips with the family. Even if you're not saddled down with restless rugrats, the Yukon XL will still prove useful with its huge cargo capacity and ability to haul a sizeable trailer with ease.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.