Used 1997 GMC Yukon Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Dual airbags, speed-sensitive steering and a tighter turning circle for 4WD models. A power lock switch is added to the cargo compartment, and SLT models have a standard CD/cassette combo stereo. Remote keyless entry is standard on four-door models, and on SLE and SLT two-door models. Optional on four-door models is a rear air conditioning unit.

Vehicle overview

Until this year, General Motors had a lock on the midsize sport-utility market, but couldn't build enough to meet demand because of a serious lack of production capacity. The result? Inflated prices as dealers struggled to keep the Yukon and Tahoe in stock. This year, GM is refurbishing a plant in Arlington, Texas, which used to produce full-size Buick, Chevrolet, and Cadillac sedans, and Yukon/Tahoe production will begin in the Lone Star State sometime this spring.

Unfortunately for GM, the additional plant capacity may be coming a bit too late. Ford released the midsized Expedition last fall, and this F-150 pickup-based SUV is more refined but less powerful than the GM twins. Next year, Dodge releases the Durango, based on the fresh Dakota platform and sure to be slightly smaller and easier to maneuver than the GM and Ford behemoths. Jeep, too, is expected to get into the game by the end of the millenium, introducing a midsized sport-ute called the Grand Wagoneer.

In the size race, the Yukon fits squarely between the Jimmy compact and the big-bruiser Suburban wagons. Squint your eyes, in fact, and the difference between a Yukon and Suburban begins to evaporate, despite the latter's extra 20 inches of steel. Ford's Expedition is a bit larger, and offers eight-passenger seating, which is not available on the Yukon.

Yukon's interior has been borrowed from the full-size Sierra pickup, including new-for-1997 dual airbags. The cargo bay receives a power door lock switch -- a sensible addition, and one not available from Ford. Rear passengers can be made more comfortable with the addition of a rear air conditioning unit. Remote keyless entry is made standard on four-door models, and two-door Yukons with SLE or SLT trim. Order the SLT trim on either Yukon, and a stereo featuring both cassette and CD players is part of the package. Speed-sensitive steering makes low-speed parking easier and provides better road feel on the interstate, while 4WD models have a tighter turning circle than last year which should improve off-road maneuverability.

How does the Yukon stack up against the Expedition? The Ford is more refined and comfortable, but we prefer Yukon's dated exterior styling. The Ford is powered by smooth overhead-cam engines, but we prefer the torque and roar of GMC's Vortec 5700 V8 engine. Neither is easy to climb into, particularly without running boards, but the Expedition has larger rear door openings which make entry/exit to the back seat much easier. The Ford also boasts optional eight-passenger seating. As drivers, however, we believe we'd prefer the Yukon's power over the Expedition's refinement. Naturally, though, you can still expect truck-style ride and handling, but reasonable comfort on the road.

With new competitors arriving annually and increased production capacity, GMC dealers have little reason to gouge customers on Yukon pricing. Just threaten to go down the street and pick up a new Expedition, and the dealer will be eager to play ball.

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.