2015 GMC Yukon XL Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Strong V8 power
- stout towing capacity
- big cargo capacity
- available nine-passenger seating
- extremely quiet highway ride
- high-quality cabin.
- Sheer size requires careful maneuvering in tight quarters
- high cargo floor and load height
- lazy gas pedal responsiveness
- nine-passenger configuration only available on base model.
Smaller, fuel-efficient crossovers will serve most people better, but the 2015 GMC Yukon XL is a top choice when it comes to large, traditional SUVs that can tow heavy loads and haul large families.
Car shoppers who are in the market for a traditional full-size SUV have only a handful of choices these days. But among this group, one of the most compelling is the 2015 GMC Yukon XL. It blends traditionally rugged truck construction and V8 towing capacity with amenities and features one might expect from a full-fledged luxury SUV.
Like all of GM's full-size trucks and SUVs, the 2015 GMC Yukon XL has been completely redesigned. A bolder face and more aggressively sculpted sides and fenders give it a more modern, even aerodynamic look. Under the hood you'll find a new 5.3-liter V8, which features direct injection and cylinder deactivation for better power and efficiency. The top-of-the-range Yukon XL Denali gets a 6.2-liter V8 for even more power. This bigger V8 might also be a reason to choose this GMC instead of its close sibling, the Chevrolet Suburban, as the Chevy only has the smaller V8.
The Yukon XL's cabin sees the greatest improvement this year, especially in pricier and more luxurious trim levels. Upgraded upholstery quality, improved dash and door panels, an 8-inch touchscreen display and GMC's IntelliLink smartphone integration make the new Yukon XL even classier than before. It also finally gets third-row seats that fold into the floor, a feature that competitors have offered for years. With the seats folded, the XL loses 16 cubic feet of cargo space compared to last year's model, and the load floor is now even taller. But such added versatility is nevertheless a welcome improvement.
Based on its size and capacity, the Yukon XL is one of the most capable vehicles on sale today, with just a few direct competitors. Even other full-size SUVs like the refined 2015 Toyota Sequoia and luxurious 2015 Infiniti QX80 can't match the Yukon's capabilities. The 2015 Ford Expedition EL and 2015 Lincoln Navigator L are the Yukon's closest competitors, as both are extended-wheelbase models that provide extra space for third-row occupants and their stuff.
It's still true that many full-size SUV shoppers could be happier with smaller (but still large) crossover SUVs such as GMC's own eight-passenger Acadia, which are typically easier to drive, more space- and fuel-efficient and cheaper to buy. Overall, though, the 2015 GMC Yukon XL will be great for shoppers who need the sort of serious people-carrying, cargo-hauling and trailer-towing capabilities that only a serious SUV like it can handle.
2015 GMC Yukon XL models
The 2015 GMC Yukon XL is a full-size SUV available in three trim levels: SLE, SLT and Denali. Seating for eight is standard, but there are two optional seating arrangements. Second-row captain's chairs drop the count to seven, and a 40/20/40 front bench seat available only on the base SLE increases it to nine.
The Yukon XL SLE comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, running boards, heated power-adjustable manual-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), a 60/40 split-fold second-row bench seat and a 60/40-split fold-flat third-row seat. Also standard are remote engine start, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch color display with the GMC IntelliLink interface (includes voice control, smartphone app integration, text-to-voice capability for MAP-enabled smartphones and Siri Eyes Free capability for newer iPhones), a rearview camera, OnStar and a Bose nine-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, Pandora Internet radio control, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, five USB ports and an SD card slot.
For the SLE, an optional Driver Alert package includes forward collision alert, lane-departure warning and a vibrating safety alert seat. The Convenience package adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and a power rear liftgate.
The SLT model includes the Driver Alert and Convenience packages as standard and adds a locking rear differential, heated power-folding outside mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
All Yukon XLs are pre-wired for towing and feature a 2-inch receiver, but an HD Trailering package is available for SLE and SLT trims and includes specific gearing, a trailer-brake controller and air suspension with automatic leveling and increased load capacity. Second-row power-folding captain's chairs are optional for the SLT. The Sun, Entertainment and Destinations option package adds a sunroof, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system with a USB port, SD card slot and a Blu-ray player.
To the SLT's standard equipment, the Yukon Denali adds the more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels, adaptive magnetic suspension, xenon headlights, an 8-inch customizable display in the gauge cluster and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. For the Denali, the Touring package adds the sunroof, head-up display, the navigation system and the rear-seat entertainment system. Adaptive cruise control with frontal crash mitigation is also optional for the SLT and Denali.
Of course, no full-size SUV would be complete without a variety of available 20- and 22-inch wheels. In addition, GMC plans to offer an enhanced OnStar package with a 4G LTE connection that provides a Wi-Fi hotspot (late availability).
Performance & mpg
There are two available engines for the 2015 GMC Yukon XL. SLE and SLT models come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that generates 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The Denali comes with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that generates 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Both use a six-speed automatic transmission to transmit power through the rear wheels on 2WD models or all four wheels on 4WD models. The 4WD Yukon XL is offered with a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing. A locking rear differential is standard on all trim levels.
During Edmunds testing, a four-wheel drive GMC Yukon Denali XL with the 6.2-liter V8 went from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. That performance is about average for the class.
Properly equipped, the maximum tow rating for the 2WD Yukon XL is 8,300 pounds, and 8,000 pounds for the 4WD models. The more powerful Denali actually tows 200 fewer pounds, respectively.
With the standard 5.3-liter V8 engine, the EPA's estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg combined regardless of driveline (16 city/23 highway for 2WD models and 15/22 for 4WD). The Yukon XL Denali with the larger 6.2-liter V8 and 2WD gets 17 mpg combined (15/21), while 4WD versions get 16 mpg combined (14/20). On Edmunds 120-mile, mixed-driving, evaluation loop a 4WD Yukon XL Denali with the 6.2-liter engine was able to achieve 15.9 mpg.
Standard safety equipment on the 2015 GMC Yukon XL includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An airbag located between the front bucket seats (when so equipped) is standard and aids in side-impact crashes. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on every Yukon XL.
Depending on trim level, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, a vibrating safety alert seat, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and frontal crash mitigation with automatic braking are either optional or standard.
In government crash tests, the 2015 GMC Yukon XL received four out of five possible stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection.
During Edmunds testing, a four-wheel drive Yukon Denali XL came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet. That distance is longer than average, even considering the XL's added weight.
As always, one major benefit of choosing GMC's traditional full-size SUV is standard V8 power. The 2015 GMC Yukon XL's 5.3-liter V8 engine is beefy enough to pull around a full complement of passengers and gear, though the Denali's bigger V8 could be tempting if you are frequently pulling heavy trailers or boats. The 6.2-liter V8 has more pulling and passing power, but both engines are smooth and refined. On the whole, the cabin is as hushed as a luxury car's, especially on the highway.
We're less fond of the 2015 Yukon XL's lazy responses to gas pedal inputs, a result of efforts to calibrate the engine and transmission for maximum fuel economy. There's a noticeable delay when pressing on the gas pedal, whether you're trying to execute a pass at highway speeds or accelerate from a stop. The brake pedal doesn't inspire a ton of confidence either and if you're towing or carrying a full load of passengers, you'll need to leave some extra following distance.
Especially with the Denali's standard adaptive suspension, the 2015 Yukon feels relatively secure when going through turns, and it soaks up bumps with ease. We cannot recommend any of the fashionable 22-inch wheels, however, as their mass combined with their tires' lack of cushioning sidewalls adversely affects ride comfort. For such a large vehicle, the Yukon XL is relatively easy to maneuver at freeway speeds, but it doesn't react quickly to any inputs. Also keep in mind that this is still a large and heavy truck-based vehicle, and large crossover SUVs will generally be easier to maneuver and park as well as being more composed when driven over rough pavement.
The overall quality and design of the 2015 GMC Yukon XL's interior is noticeably improved from previous generations. Materials are of a high quality, and the gauge cluster's crisp graphics are a snap to read day or night. The large, central infotainment display is intuitive to navigate and its graphics/pictograms are simple and easily interpreted. Unfortunately, IntelliLink can sometimes be slow to respond to your touch inputs.
Most shoppers will find the front seats comfortable and reasonably supportive. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel in the SLE model will make it harder for some people to find an ideal driving position, however. Second-row space is excellent, while the third row offers much better legroom than the one in the regular Yukon. Keep in mind that if you're looking to the Yukon XL for its nine-passenger capacity, it's only available on the base trim level.
Given the very cumbersome nature of the previous-generation Yukon XL's third-row seat removal procedure (not to mention their vulnerability to smash-and-grab thieves), we're happy to see GMC has finally integrated the third row firmly into the truck's floor. The fact that both the rear rows are power-operated is an added benefit. The downside to these stow-away seats is a very high cargo floor loading height (36 inches), which makes it harder for shorter owners to load strollers or bigger shopping hauls.
Even with the reduction in maximum cargo space for 2015, the amount of room in the back of a Yukon XL remains truly impressive. With all seats occupied, you'll have 38.9 cubic feet for luggage, which is substantial for any three-row vehicle. Fold the third-row seats down and there are 76.7 cubic feet; fold both rear rows and it increases to 121.1 cubes. These figures are several cubic feet more than what you get in GMC's Acadia crossover and on par with big SUVs like the Toyota Sequoia. The Navigator L offers more.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
GMC's Yukon Denali XL is the brand's biggest and most well-appointed SUV. Though it shares a platform with the more modest Chevy Suburban and more luxurious Cadillac Escalade ESV, the Yukon Denali is nonetheless an upscale SUV. This year it offers revised styling, more power and improved handling.
What Is It?
The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali is a seven-passenger full-size SUV. Fully redesigned for 2015, its wheelbase remains identical to the outgoing model at 130 inches. The standard Yukon offers a 14-inch-shorter wheelbase. Overall length and width on the XL see modest increases, while height is reduced about 2.5 inches relative to the 2014 model. As one of the largest SUVs sold today, the Yukon XL provides large volumes of cargo space and a flat load floor.
Though the higher trim Denali comes only with the large 6.2-liter V8, a 5.3-liter V8 is available in base models. The larger engine produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, while the smaller engine is rated at 355 hp and 416 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are currently paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. Beginning this November, however, all Denali trims will come with GM's new eight-speed automatic as standard equipment.
Our tester, a near fully loaded Denali XL 4WD, came with a $77,965 sticker price. Base rear-wheel-drive models with the 5.3-liter engine start at $50,030
How Does It Drive?
Ample development work and plenty of new technologies combine to make this large SUV remarkably easy to drive: pleasant, even. Inside, the Yukon is safe-room quiet and all its controls offer both appropriate effort and striking response. It's big, but it's easy.
Though docile as a pussycat, the big V8 will move the Yukon with authority if asked — and it even sounds good doing it. This truck is fast, requiring only 6.4 seconds to hit 60 in our testing. The six-speed transmission performs well by buttering the transition between gears with oily smoothness. Manual shifting is easy, if somewhat counterintuitive, using the toggle on the shift lever, and downshifts are rev-matched.
We didn't find ourselves yearning for more gears until we refueled. There we discovered a worst fill of 12.8 mpg. More on that in a minute.
Despite this, the Yukon represents a remarkable step forward in many areas where large SUVs have traditionally struggled, like parking. Standard front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera make it simple to know where the Yukon ends and the sedan behind you begins.
Behind the wheel there's a level of control available that's rare among American SUVs. Steering and braking inputs are met with intuitive and manageable reactions. Body roll, pitch and dive are all better controlled than in previous-generation Yukons. The large SUV's usual nemeses (a solid rear axle and large, heavy wheels) are managed well by the Yukon's active dampers.
Remarkably, the performance snobs on our staff — those who drive cars at our test track — were dazzled by the Yukon's handling, saying it "drives smaller than it is." The closest thing we've heard to a compliment from the cone-dodging bunch.
Ride quality is impressive, especially given the solid axle suspension design in back. There's no float, yet we were also never troubled by the stiffness that attends some European SUVs. But the Yukon makes no claims to be sporting. It is big. And it does big fairly well.
How Safe Is It?
Standard safety features on the Yukon Denali include forward collision alert, blind-spot alert with lane-change alert, lane departure warning and cross-traffic alert, as well as the above-mentioned rearview camera and parking aids. All of the above are paired with the safety alert seat, which vibrates to warn drivers of a potential collision. GM's decision to display individual tire pressures in the instrument cluster is also a genuine safety benefit, too.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Yukon four out of five stars in its overall crash test rating. Its lowest score was in the rollover rating, where it received three stars for rollover risk.
Braking distance, the Achilles' heel of any vehicle this heavy, is predictably long. At 134 feet, the Yukon's stopping distance from 60 mph is considerably longer than some of its competitors.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Deliver?
Four-wheel-drive Yukon Denali XLs, like our tester, are EPA rated at 16 mpg combined (14 city/20 highway). Two-wheel-drive versions earn 1 mpg better across the board.
It's no secret that the forthcoming eight-speed transmission will improve fuel economy, though neither GM nor the EPA will say by how much just yet. Don't expect more than 1 or 2 mpg, however.
We measured 15 mpg in mixed driving over more than 1,000 miles in the Yukon. It produced 15.9 mpg on our 116-mile test loop, which includes both highway and mountain roads. This is marginally less than the Infiniti QX80 we recently tested, which produced 15.2 mpg overall and 16.9 mpg on our loop.
What's It Like Inside?
Top-trim Denali models benefit from the best materials and most standard features GMC offers. Heated and cooled front seats covered in perforated leather are standard, as are a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and start and power-operated front seats with memory. Power-adjustable pedals are standard.
Materials and design, particularly the stitched leather trim in the Denali model, verge on luxury quality, and at this price they should. The center stack's simple buttons and knobs offer precise operation and logical layout. There's an 8-inch infotainment screen that raises to reveal hidden storage in the dash.
Our tester was fitted with the optional Touring package, which includes a Blu-ray DVD player with 9-inch screens for both the second and third rows. Connectivity and charge ports are abundant. The front row alone includes four USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, one compact flash port and an aux jack. The second row offers RCA jacks for the two rear screens, one 12-volt outlet, one 120-volt outlet, one USB jack and one aux jack. There are 12-volt outlets in the third row and the cargo area.
What About Cargo and Towing?
Certainly the Yukon XL's biggest strength is its roominess. Front- and second-row occupants are treated to generous head- and legroom. Second-row seats don't slide fore and aft but tumble forward to allow relatively easy access to the third row. They're also heated.
In the third row, there's enough room for average-size adults to sit comfortably. Legroom is better than in the shorter wheelbase 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe we recently tested.
Both the second- and third-row seats can be folded flat via buttons inside the hatch. Cargo space behind the third row is large and there's generous underfloor storage for relatively flat items. However, the same complaint we leveled against the Chevy Tahoe is valid here, too: By eliminating the removable third-row seats and leveling the load floor, liftover height is considerably higher than last year's model. Cargo volume suffers, too: down 16.3 cubic feet relative to last year's Yukon XL.
A 3.42 axle ratio is standard on Denali models, and when optioned with 4WD it's rated to tow 7,900 pounds.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Certainly Toyota's Sequoia should be a consideration if you're shopping for a large SUV with towing ability. It offers nearly the same cargo volume as the Yukon XL. At 7,000 pounds its tow rating in marginally lower, but unlike the Yukon it meets that number with an SAE certification, which adds credibility to the claim. It offers independent rear suspension, which improves handling and ride quality as well.
Given the Denali's luxury intentions, the Infiniti QX80 is another solid contender. Though smaller than the Yukon, it offers optional seating for eight and its materials and design are more luxury oriented. It, too, offers a more advanced independent suspension with load leveling and optional body-lean control. Its maximum tow rating is 8,500 pounds: a number that's not SAE certified.
Ford's Expedition EL is the obvious direct competitor to the Yukon XL. It has an even longer wheelbase, more cargo capacity and a 9,100-pound towing capacity (No SAE certification here, either). It, too, has independent rear suspension. For 2015, it's available only with Ford's 3.5-liter turbocharged Ecoboost V6.
Why Should You Consider This SUV?
If you're in the market for a large SUV that's nice but not as costly as top-dollar Europeans, then the 2015 Yukon Denali XL is a good choice. It utilizes a proven combination for hauling cargo and towing: a big V8 and a solid rear axle. And we can report that, as large SUVs go, this one is both high quality and refreshingly graceful to drive.
Why Should You Think Twice About This SUV?
The Yukon's lack of an independent rear suspension hurts its ride quality and drivability. Though GM has done a phenomenal job of tuning around this fundamental setback in ride quality, sensitive drivers will still notice. There's no avoiding the packaging compromise it creates inside, however.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL Overview
The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL is offered in the following submodels: Yukon XL SUV. Available styles include Denali 4dr SUV 4WD (6.2L 8cyl 8A), SLT 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLT 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Denali 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 8A), SLE 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 6A), and SLE 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 6A). Pre-owned GMC Yukon XL models are available with a 6.2 L-liter gas engine or a 5.3 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine, with output up to 420 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL comes with four wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL?
Price comparisons for Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL trim styles:
- The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali is priced between $31,995 and$43,998 with odometer readings between 61722 and121990 miles.
- The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL SLT is priced between $33,966 and$46,990 with odometer readings between 53226 and115465 miles.
- The Used 2015 GMC Yukon XL SLE is priced between $34,998 and$38,590 with odometer readings between 71130 and101137 miles.
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Which used 2015 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) 2015 GMC Yukon XL for sale near. There are currently 16 used and CPO 2015 Yukon XLS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $31,995 and mileage as low as 53226 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 2015 GMC Yukon XL.
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Should I lease or buy a 2015 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.