2012 GMC Yukon XL Review

Pros & Cons

  • Seating for up to nine passengers
  • class-leading interior space
  • smooth road manners
  • attractive interior with quality materials
  • powerful 6.2-liter V8 in the Denali.
  • Third-row seat is bulky and doesn't fold into the floor
  • long braking distances
  • portly curb weight hampers handling.
List Price Range
$18,257 - $24,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

It's massive, and its third-row seats don't fold flat, but the 2012 GMC Yukon XL is an excellent choice for large families who need a full-size SUV with maximum seating, towing and cargo capacities.

Vehicle overview

Recently, the long-standing American philosophy of "bigger is better" has thankfully diminished in popularity. Some people have realized that they really don't need a super-sized order of French fries, a massive McMansion or an SUV big and powerful enough to carry the starting lineup of the Red Sox. But for those who actually do need an extremely capable full-size SUV, there is the 2012 GMC Yukon XL.

If you truly require a vehicle that provides seating for nine adults, an abundance of cargo space and the ability to tow a huge trailer or boat, then the 3-ton Yukon XL makes perfect sense. Given its size and available powerhouse engines, the Yukon XL's ability to handle these tasks should come as no surprise. More remarkable perhaps is the big ute's all-around refinement, which is reflected in its smooth ride and handsome, quiet cabin.

Of course, there are downsides to driving something as enormous as the Yukon XL, not the least of which are maneuvering in tight quarters and its abysmal fuel economy. We also have to ding the Yukon XL for its 50/50-split third-row seat, which has to be removed and stashed somewhere (rather than simply folded down) to make the most of the available cargo capacity back there.

Other than its Chevy Suburban and Cadillac Escalade ESV cousins, the Yukon XL has few peers. The Ford Expedition EL offers the distinct advantage of a fold-flat third row, but seats only eight passengers and is a little down on power compared to the GMC's trio of engine options. The Toyota Sequoia has power to spare, but also seats only eight passengers and offers significantly less cargo room.

Should you be in the majority of SUV shoppers who don't need the Yukon's simultaneous combination of heavy-duty skills, we would strongly recommend looking at a large crossover like GMC's own Acadia. But if you do require maximum seating, cargo and towing capacity at the same time, it doesn't get much better than the GMC Yukon XL.

2012 GMC Yukon XL models

The 2012 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 Yukon XL comes standard with an eight-person seating capacity, but an available 40/20/40 front bench increases that to nine.

The base SLE trim comes well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, recovery hooks, 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 sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. The SLT adds power front bucket seats, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, a premium Bose sound system with nine speakers, 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 blind-spot monitoring system, a power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats with a power-folding feature, a larger display for the rearview camera, a navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with digital music storage.

Some of the upper trims' standard features are available as options on the lower trims. Other options (depending on trim) include 20- and 22-inch wheels, power-retractable running boards, a sunroof, second-row captain's chairs and a twin-screen rear-seat entertainment system.

2012 Highlights

For 2012, the GMC Yukon XL receives updated versions of the optional navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Performance & mpg

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. In Edmunds testing of the mechanically identical Chevrolet Suburban, this engine powered it from zero to 60 in 9 seconds, a respectable time.

Yukon 2500 models come standard with a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 352 hp and 382 lb-ft of torque. This larger V8 is also mated 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 XL with the 5.3-liter 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 is standard, as are antilock disc brakes, side curtain airbags, front side airbags and an updated version of OnStar. A blind-spot alert system is standard on the Denali and optional on the SLT.

In government crash tests, the Yukon XL received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for both overall frontal and side protection. The lower overall total score is due to the Yukon's rollover rating. In Edmunds brake testing, the related Suburban SUV stopped from 60 mph in 145 feet, a long distance for an SUV.


With its big V8, the 2012 GMC Yukon XL models feel fairly quick for such big vehicles. That's especially true for the top-of-the-line Denali with the 403-hp 6.2-liter engine under its hood. The trade-off, of course, is poor fuel economy that just barely breaks into the double digits. On the move, the Yukon XL's suspension provides a comfortable ride quality that, combined with the relatively quiet interior, makes the Yukon XL a fine road trip machine. As expected, though, this SUV is far from nimble, and handling suffers due to its massive curb weight.


Though it may not be as stylish as some of GMC's more recent models, the Yukon's passenger cabin is still handsome and well made. Furthermore, controls and gauges are both easy to see and simple to operate.

Arguably the strongest selling point for the 2012 GMC Yukon XL is an interior that offers seating for up to nine passengers, a number bested only by full-size vans. Seating arrangements include a choice of a 40/20/40-split bench or buckets up front, with a 60/40-split bench or a pair of captain's chairs in the second row. The three-person third-row seat is standard.

The Yukon XL's cavernous cabin also offers plenty of cargo room, with nearly 49 cubic feet of room behind the third row and a whopping 137.4 cubic feet with the third-row seats removed and the second-row seats folded. Unfortunately, you'll need to yank out and store both halves of that third-row seat in order to make use of all that space, a process that requires no small amount of muscle.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 GMC Yukon XL.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Tired of crossovers
After trying crossovers, we are back to our much loved Suburban/Yukon XL vehicles. Nothing matches these vehicles for comfort, value and modest cost of operation. They are bullet proof and supremely comfortable. I cannot agree with Edmunds suggestion that the midsized Acadia, Enclave or Traverse is a viable replacement. ONLY, if you sit in the front seats. The second row seats in these vehicles are some of the most uncomfortable seats in any vehicle made. And for all this loss of comfort, size and seat comfort, you gain a miseable 1-2 mpg. Not worth it. Before you buy your GM crossover, test drive a new Yukon or Yukon XL back to back with a new Acadia, Enclave or Traverse.
Still the "Gold Standard"
We ventured into the "midsize", or as the Edmunds reviewers say "Perfect size for most"....SUV's. We tested an Acadia, Enclave and ended up buying a new 2011 Lincoln MKT. That didn't last quite a year until we now have found ourselves back into a full sized GMC Yukon XL and we absolutely love all aspects of the vehicle. So comfortable, delightful seats and SPACE. Still hard to beat a full sized vehicle if, like us, you do lots of traveling on the open road. Never attempt to sit in the second row seats of GM's midsize offerings (Traverse, Acadia and Enclave) if you are (1) over 5' tall or (2) over the age of 12! Those have to be the most uncomfortable seats made in a modern vehicle!
Great 4WD
SLE 1500 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
I just drove my 2012 Yukon XL from Washington D.C. to Knoxville through our first challenging Winter weather. When we got within 60 miles of the state line (north of Tennessee while still in Virginia) we ran into some real snow and ice on the roads. We had to drive from about that point south to Knoxville, TN. I had to use the Four Wheel Drive for that length of the trip - over 2 hours at varying speeds. The vehicle never missed a beat. There were cars, trucks, and semis in the ditch or over turned along the way. The Yukon had zero problems. I watched the transmission temp the entire time. It never got over 135 degrees. Very impressed. Very pleased. Having a 21 month old in the vehicle with me certainly made for a nervous trip. The Yukon didn't let me down. Very happy I had it with 4WD High - worked like a champ.
Not luxury, but serves a purpose
Traded in Toyota Sienna Limited to better accomodate our family - my wife and I plus four young kids. We have 7,500 miles on our 2012 Yukon XL Denali. Price was $60K even before trade, with the additional screen for the third row. Since we bought the car a few months ago, the DVD player has broken (only used it once) and now the back up camera is broken. Suprisingly little knee room for the second row, and less, as expected, for the third row. You can't move the 2nd or 3rd row seat back and forth, like you could in the mini-van. You can turn the Heat/AC for the rear on and off from the front of the car, but you cant control the temperature. Bad idea Regretting this purchase

Features & Specs

See all Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover23.7%

More about the 2012 GMC Yukon XL

Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL Overview

The Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL is offered in the following submodels: Yukon XL SUV. Available styles include Denali 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A), SLT 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Denali 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 6A), SLT 1500 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLE 1500 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLT 2500 4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl 6A), SLE 1500 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLE 2500 4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl 6A), SLE 2500 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl 6A), and SLT 2500 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali is priced between $18,257 and$24,995 with odometer readings between 86685 and119451 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL SLT 1500 is priced between $18,395 and$18,395 with odometer readings between 120446 and120446 miles.

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Which used 2012 GMC Yukon XLS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 GMC Yukon XL for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2012 Yukon XLS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $18,257 and mileage as low as 86685 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 GMC Yukon XL.

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 GMC Yukon XL?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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