2001 GMC Yukon Review

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful V8 lineup, roomy and luxurious cabins, extensive list of standard features, standard all-wheel drive in Denali.
  • Interior fit-and-finish concerns, regular Yukon still too similar to the Chevy Tahoe.
List Price Estimate
$1,596 - $3,286

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A strong drivetrain, well behaved road manners and a spacious and comfortable interior makes the Yukon one of the best full-size sport-utilities on the market.

Vehicle overview

After undergoing a complete redesign last year, the GMC Yukon has become one of the most popular full-size SUVs on the market. With a spacious interior that has legitimate room for seven, strong V8 engines that provide ample power, and a truck-derived chassis that assures long lasting durability, the Yukon is a versatile package that appeals to active-lifestyle families that need a little bit of everything from their family truckster.

Yukon buyers can choose between two different trim levels: base SLE or uplevel SLT. SLEs come standard with a 4.8-liter V8 rated at 275 horsepower, 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 are popular SUVs.

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. All Yukons come with four-wheel disc ABS for short stopping distances and a five-link, coil-spring rear suspension that delivers a smooth highway ride. An optional Autoride suspension system varies shock dampening automatically as needed, and 4WD models can be equipped with a Z71 off-road package that includes protective skid plates and a high-capacity air filter. Front and side airbags are standard, and an optional traction control system keeps the 2WD Yukon's tail planted in the slippery stuff.

A four-speed automatic is the only transmission available in the Yukon, but an optional 5.3-liter V8 engine is available if you need the extra torque for towing. Other extra cost items include a power sunroof, locking rear differential, rear-seat audio controls, and polished aluminum wheels.

Although hardly groundbreaking on the outside, the luxo Denali features a monochromatic paint scheme and an exclusive polished metal grille that gives it a distinctive, yet understated look. On the inside, the Denali features a long list of standard features that includes: leather-covered seats, steering wheel and grab handles; a 250-watt 11-speaker Bose stereo system with an in-dash six-disc changer; six-way power driver and passenger seats with dual-zone heating; rear seat audio controls and cupholders; and a multifunction trip computer. The next-generation OnStar communications system is an available option providing not only navigational assistance and concierge services, but also hands-free personal calling and a Virtual Advisor that allows access to Web-based information such as e-mail and stock quotes.

Although the Denali coddles its passengers with a luxurious interior, it still packs plenty of high-performance hardware. The standard 6.0-liter V8 is rated at 320 horsepower and 365 ft-lbs. of torque, a step above the Lincoln Navigator's 300 hp V8. Power is sent through a heavy-duty four-speed automatic that combines the off-the-line power with the freeway fuel economy.

As if a class-leading engine and versatile transmission aren't enough, the Denali adds the performance and safety of full-time all-wheel drive. This system, in conjunction with a locking rear differential, allocates power to the wheels with the most traction for maximum stability and power in slippery situations. GMC also claims that the all-wheel-drive configuration results in improved driveline durability, better tire-wear characteristics, and a more nimble handling feel.

One of the great things about the Yukon lineup is that it gives you plenty of interior room and luggage capacity in a garageable, daily-driver package. Despite its full-size SUV status, it delivers an enjoyable highway ride while remaining manageable in tight quarters. With third-row seating, you can have the practicality of a minivan and the go-anywhere capability of an SUV in one easy-to-live-with package. If you're looking for a versatile full-size SUV, the GMC Yukon or Yukon Denali is hard to beat.

2001 Highlights

The recently redesigned Yukon is virtually unchanged from last year. The high-level Yukon Denali is now based on the redesigned Yukon introduced last year. The Denali gets a 6.0-liter engine along with standard all-wheel drive and a host of other new features designed to elevate the top-of-the-line GMC above and beyond its more basic Yukon cousin.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2001 GMC Yukon.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

5.3 L GMC Yukon SLT
SLE 4WD 4dr SUV (4.8L 8cyl 4A)
Overall, a pretty good SUV... The 5.3 V8 gives you the horsepower you want. Gas mileage is the only downside, I average 14 with heavy city driving. I previously owned a 2004 Avalanche with the 5.3 V8 and I averaged 16.7, and I wish that my Yukon averaged that, because I was happy with 17. I recently replaced my O2 sensors (rear), as they were going bad, and improved my gas mileage by 2 MPG. I think I am going to get a K&N high-flow air filter. I had it on my truck, and I improved my gas mileage by about 1.5-2 MPG. I also noticed a little bit of a performance increase. Summary: Great car, just wish it got better gas mileage.
reliable and quality
Denali AWD 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl 4A)
I have a 2001 GMC Yukon Denali. I am the second owner having bought it at 35k miles. Now at 180k miles, the only items I have replaced are the water pump at 125k, rear evaporator at 170k and fuel pump at 178k & a few interior switches: brakes, tires and shocks as needed. Otherwise, just regular maintenance of all fluids. I use synthetic fluids exclusively; oil every 7-8k miles, trans fluid change every 50k, differentials, ps, brake fluid at 100k., brakes, shocks and other wear items. I average 14 MPG city/suburban driving and 16-17 MPG highway. Long term ownership costs even including gas have made this an economical vehicle.
6 years later and i still love it
Denali AWD 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl 4A)
I love the interior with its attention to detail. The exterior just commands attention and it has plenty of power. I pull a 6200 lb. camper with ease. In 136,437 miles I’ve had two problems. One with the drive line ($500) and the other with the air conditioner ($900). And the Bose system is one of the best factory sound systems that I have ever heard.
Wouldn't get another GMC
SLE 4WD 4dr SUV (4.8L 8cyl 4A)
This is the worst vehicle I've ever had. In 15 mos of ownership its gotten 2 new sunroof switches, a new sunroof, a new clock, new radio, new controls in console for rear seat passengers, and has been in for several electrical probs. The dealership has been very accommodating and certainly embarassed. I spoke with the area rep who made it out to be my fault and said these problems could occur in any make of vehicle. I've owned lots of different makes and have never had this many problems. I'm just waiting for the next thing to go wrong.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover2 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2001 GMC Yukon
More About This Model

Despite gas prices cracking the $2-a-gallon barrier in many instances, the full-size luxo-SUV market is booming. In the American nameplate segment, the Lincoln Navigator and upcoming all-new Cadillac Escalade lead the way with sumptuous interiors, high-tech drivetrains and near 50K price tags.

Being that Ford has the Expedition and Navigator, it stands to reason that (besides Cadillac) The General would have a fancy-schmancy version of the Chevy/GMC Tahoe/Yukon and Suburban/Yukon XL. If you're wondering what that might be, wonder no more. The full-zoot GM utility vehicles are marketed under the GMC banner and are known as the Yukon Denali and Denali XL (read, the fanciest version of the Suburban there is). Think of the Yukon Denali XL as the biggest and most luxury-laden ute you can get since Lincoln doesn't market an upscale version of the Ford Excursion. What would that one be called? The World Navigator maybe?

Anyway, enough of our feeble attempts at model naming, let's take a look GMC's fresh new full-size SUVs, because these things aren't just a rehash like the first Caddy Escalades that were nothing but Chevy Tahoes with Cadillac emblems.

But first we'll note that almost all of what we discuss here applies to both the standard Denali (same size as a regular Yukon or Chevy Tahoe) and the Denali XL, which has the same dimensions of a Chevy Suburban or Yukon XL. The main distinction with both sizes is that the Denali nameplate implies the high-end of the spectrum much like Eddie Bauer does on Ford SUVs.

That said, the full-time all-wheel-drive Denalis (two-wheel drive isn't offered in Denali trim) are loaded with a whole slew of new features, not the least of which is a muscled-up iteration of the Vortec 6000 (6.0-liter) V8 engine.

The largest version of GM's Gen III small-block V8 that's used in trucks and SUVs corporate-wide (the only car applications of the Gen III motor are for Camaro/Firebird and Corvette), this engine makes an impressive 320 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm and 4,000 rpm, respectively. Furthermore, this powerplant delivers 90 percent of its peak torque from 1,500 to 5,200 rpm, which makes it perfect for heavy towing situations.

Several features of the Vortec 6000 have been specially added for Denali duty. They include aluminum cylinder heads with improved intake and exhaust ports, a different cam than standard 6000s, and a fly-by-wire throttle control that uses an electronic signal rather than a cable or mechanical link to connect the accelerator pedal to the throttle body.

All Denalis will come equipped with a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission called the 4L60-E HD. While not as big as the massive 4L80-E used in three-quarter- and 1-ton trucks, this beefed-up unit has numerous upgrades over the standard 4L60-E for towing and added durability behind the Denali-specific 6.0-liter powerplant.

Part of the reason we'd justify the purchase of a vehicle as large as the Denali XL (or even a regular Denali) is towing ability. In that department, these babies don't disappoint one bit. With a standard 3.73 axle ratio across the board, both Denali and Denali XL are eminently capable tow rigs. The smaller-brother Denali is a bruiser that can lug 8,500 pounds along the highway. The XL is rated to tow near the same amount at a still mighty impressive 8,400 pounds.

Numerous other mechanical revisions or outright additions highlight the Denalis, such as a better all-wheel-drive transfer case, stronger axles in the rear end and the standard Autoride computer-controlled suspension and damping system. FYI, many of these systems are similar to those that will appear in the upcoming 2002 Cadillac Escalade since that vehicle could ostensibly be considered yet a fancier version of the Denali. The most significant difference is the Escalade gets its own unique version of the 6.0-liter Vortec V8 that makes 345 horsepower.

But we like the look of the Denali better just as we like the looks of an Expedition better than those of the garish and gaudy Navigator. Take a look at the photos and see for yourself as, for example, the front end has been nicely redesigned with a single-piece bumper fascia that encompasses two tow hooks, round fog lights and a four-bar lower grille. There are also 17-inch wheels, a monochromatic paint scheme, and body-side moldings to integrate the design with the running boards, and a brushed stainless-steel exhaust tip to punctuate the powerful character of these machines.

As with the Escalade, the Yukon Denalis are full luxo all the way. Inside might be few differences appearance-wise (the Escalade gets its own gauge cluster, for example) but for all intents and purposes, the cabins are the same. That's not a bad thing, because we'd say that all three of GM's luxo-utes (the two Denalis and the Escalade) are now equipped with the nicest cabins you're going to find in this segment.

Standard in the Denali (and Escalade) is the new generation of GM's OnStar system that now includes Virtual Advisor and Personal Calling. The laundry list of other standard appointments is also quite awe-inspiring. Highlights include ABS, a six-disc CD changer with an 11-speaker hi-fi setup and rear seat controls, a driver information center (DIC), electronic HVAC controls, two-tone leather seating, 10-way power seats up front, heated front and second-row seats, remote keyless entry, a trailer package that'll handle the aforementioned towing capacities, and about 25 other features that makes the option list for the Denali very short. In fact, the Denali and Denali XL are so loaded, the option list includes a total of three items: a sunroof, second-row bucket seats on the big-brother XL, and an engine-block heater that's standard in Canadian market versions.

As we said earlier, one purpose we see as key to justifying the need for an SUV as huge as a Denali XL is towing capacity. The other is interior volume and cargo space. Of course, the XL (just like a Suburban) is the champ in this segment supplanted only by the much-less luxurious Excursion. In fact, the XL is the choice if you want jumbo size and decadent luxury all in once place since it's bigger than an Expedition, Tahoe, Yukon or regular Denali and it's scads more plush than an F-Series Super Duty-based Excursion. Still, the standard Denali is plenty roomy enough for most with 16.3 cubic feet of space when set up to carry eight people. Remove the third-row seat and space more than triples to 63.6 cubic feet. With all seating removed other than room for two up front, it nearly doubles again to 104.6.

Hang on to your hat for the XL as it's a big boy. With seating for eight, you still get 45.7 cubic feet of storage. Remove the third row and that figure doubles to 90. In full cargo-carrying mode, the XL is positively cavernous with a full 131.6 cubic feet of cargo-carrying capacity.

We think how much an SUV can carry or tow is at least as important as how it drives, if not more so. If you're in the market for any SUV (especially when they're as massive as the Denali XL) and expecting it to drive like an Audi S4, then you're barking up the wrong tree. The bottom line is that full-size SUVs are heavy, they guzzle gas, and their center-of-gravity is less than ideal no matter the make and model. However, just like with cars, some are certainly more pleasant to drive and the GMC offerings are near the top of the heap.

Just don't expect the tightly controlled feel of a sport sedan or sporty coupe. That said, the Denalis (both big and huge) are nice enough to pilot even for those whose appreciation of a fine-driving car goes beyond the masses. These machines are whisper-quiet on the highway, they coddle you with every power convenience we can think of except for an automatic back-scratcher, they have more than adequate power for getting around econoboxes and big rigs, and they can clearly carry and tow with the best of anything else that's available in the world.

In fact, GM's full-size SUV brigade might be the best in the world. From the lowest-optioned Tahoe to the full-boat near 50-large (pricing for the Denali will begin at $46,650, while the XL Denali will be $48,185) Yukon Denali XL, we wouldn't steer anyone away from a Chevy or GMC SUV. Be it a Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Yukon XL or the high-end GMC Yukon Denali stablemates, it's clear that these vehicles -- along with their full-size Chevy and GMC truck counterparts that share powertrains and several other technical highlights -- are among the best products that General Motors currently has on the market.

Used 2001 GMC Yukon Overview

The Used 2001 GMC Yukon is offered in the following submodels: Yukon SUV. Available styles include SLE 2WD 4dr SUV (4.8L 8cyl 4A), Denali AWD 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl 4A), and SLE 4WD 4dr SUV (4.8L 8cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2001 GMC Yukon?

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Should I lease or buy a 2001 GMC Yukon?

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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