2017 GMC Yukon Review
Edmunds expert review
If you need an SUV that's as good at towing your boat as it is hauling your family, the 2017 GMC Yukon is the kind of vehicle you should consider. It's based on GM's line of full-size trucks, so the Yukon has the kind of rugged construction that's well suited to towing heavy loads. Properly equipped, the Yukon also offers better off-road capabilities than some of its car-based competitors.
On the downside, the truck-based Yukon also drives much like a truck, so its handling, comfort and maneuverability are all compromised. Crossover SUVs, such as the GMC Acadia, are based on passenger cars, making them easier to drive and more fuel-efficient.
As a result, we encourage shoppers to check out the Yukon's competition before fully committing. Rivals include the Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and Ford Expedition. The nearly identical Chevrolet Tahoe is worth mentioning as well because it costs a little bit less, but the Yukon's larger 6.2-liter V8 is not offered.
Standard safety features on all 2017 GMC Yukon models include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. A center airbag between the front bucket seats (when so equipped) 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, as well as a teen-driver management system.
Available safety equipment includes forward collision alert with auto braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, a vibrating safety-alert seat, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.
In Edmunds brake testing, a mechanically similar four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet. A rear-wheel-drive, lesser equipped Tahoe stopped in 121 feet. Both are short distances for a vehicle in this class, but we disliked the soft, long-travel pedal that elicits little confidence.
In government crash tests, the Yukon earned a four out of five stars for overall performance, with five stars for front- and side-impact protection and three stars for rollover protection.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 GMC Yukon is a full-size SUV offered in SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. Most Yukons you'll see have seating for eight passengers, but there is an optional front bench seat on the SLE trim that increases capacity to nine. Second-row bucket seats are available on the SLT trim and standard on the Denali; they reduce passenger capacity to seven. The larger Yukon XL is covered in a separate review.
Standard features for the SLE trim include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, side assist steps, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, cruise control, remote keyless entry and ignition, and a trailer hitch receiver with a wiring harness.
On the inside, you get tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, front bucket seats with a 10-way power driver seat, 60/40-split folding second- and third-row seats, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, a teen-driver monitoring system, OnStar emergency telematics with navigation, a 110-volt household power outlet, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, the IntelliLink infotainment system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera and a Bose nine-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, mobile apps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and auxiliary and USB input.
The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, a vibrating safety-alert driver seat, automatic high beams and lane keeping assist. The Convenience package adds a power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and a universal garage door opener.
The SLT trim includes all of the above, along with a hands-free liftgate, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, a heated, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 12-way power driver and front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats, driver-seat memory functions and a wireless charging pad.
The top-of-the-line Denali trim adds a bigger, more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, a trailer brake controller, a head-up display, active noise cancellation, second-row bucket seats, a navigation system with real-time traffic and a 10-speaker surround-sound system.
Some features on higher-trimmed models are available on supporting models at additional cost. Optional features for SLE and SLT trims include 22-inch wheels and an HD Trailering package (unique axle ratio, trailer brake controller and a self-leveling suspension). The SLT and Denali are eligible for a sunroof, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Denali also offers power-retractable side steps.
The 2017 GMC Yukon is available with two different engines, based on trim level. SLE and SLT models come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels on base models or all four wheels if you opt for all-wheel drive. A single-speed transfer case is standard on four-wheel-drive models, but a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing is available as an option for improved performance in tricky off-road situations. Properly equipped, the maximum tow rating for the two-wheel-drive Yukon SLE or SLT is 8,500 pounds.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway) with two-wheel drive and 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway) with four-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, a mechanically similar four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Tahoe accelerated to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, which is a solid performance, though several competitors are quicker.
The 2017 GMC Yukon Denali is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It comes with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, while the optional four-wheel drive includes a standard two-speed transfer case. Its maximum towing capacity is 8,400 pounds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg combined (15 city/22 highway) with two-wheel drive and 17 mpg combined (15 city/20 highway) for the four-wheel-drive model.
The 2017 GMC Yukon's 5.3-liter V8 is certainly capable when it comes to hauling a full load of people and cargo. It can deliver strong acceleration, too, but the engine often feels lazy due to sluggish throttle response. To its credit, the 5.3-liter V8 is smooth and quiet, and contrary to what you might expect, this engine also has a slightly higher tow rating that the Denali versions with the larger 6.2-liter engine.
At a time when car-based crossovers have taken over the SUV market, the Yukon still boasts rugged, truck-based underpinnings that can handle heavy-duty tasks such as towing trailers and hitting the trails. Be prepared for trade-offs, however, as those same traits make the Yukon feel less refined on city streets. The suspension ably smooths over larger road imperfections and undulations, but shakes and shudders are noticeable over smaller ripples and bumps. The available adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension might improve things a bit, but only marginally. On the plus side, the cabin does remain pleasantly quiet on the highway.
Inside the 2017 GMC Yukon, there's a wealth of space for passengers in the first two rows of seats, and materials quality is above average for the class. Despite its size, it's easy to see out of, and the standard rear parking sensors and rearview camera reduce the stress of maneuvering in tight spaces.
Taller drivers will easily fit, but the base SLE trim's lack of a telescoping steering wheel may extend their reach more than they'd prefer. The second-row seats, whether a bench or the optional buckets, are just as roomy, but the folding mechanisms limit the range of adjustments. The third-row seats are flat with thin cushioning by comparison, and the high floor significantly reduces legroom.
Cargo capacity doesn't fare any better, with only 15.3 cubic feet available behind the third row, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row and a maximum of 94.7 cubic feet with both rows folded flat. Not only is the space limited compared to the competition, but the load floor itself is inconveniently high in order to house the folding third-row bench seats. This makes loading bulky cargo more strenuous, especially for smaller people.
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.