2018 GMC Yukon

2018 GMC Yukon Review

The Yukon can carry nine people and tow quite a bit, but its shortcomings and its price make it hard to recommend.
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 GMC Yukon occupies what little space there is between the related Chevrolet Tahoe and the Cadillac Escalade. Though less premium than the Escalade, it does offer a few more luxuries and features than the Tahoe.

Like its siblings, the Yukon offers available seating for nine and an impressive towing capacity. You also get plenty of standard equipment. However, the Yukon's road manners and cargo utility aren't up to par, and its elevated price point (compared to the Tahoe) pits it against some more luxurious vehicles.

Buyers who demand the towing capacity of a body-on-frame SUV should take a look at the all-new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Both promise impressive capability but with more utility and comfort than the Yukon.

Those who need three rows but are willing to sacrifice towing capacity have quite a few options. The Audi Q7 has excellent driving dynamics and lots of advanced technology options. The Acura MDX is similarly well-behaved on the road and offers plenty of luxury trimmings. The price of the top trim Yukon Denali even makes a competitor of the entry-level Mercedes-Benz GLS Class, which makes up what it lacks in content with a much more upscale interior and refined driving experience.



What's new for 2018

A 10-speed automatic transmission is now standard on the Yukon Denali. There also have been some minor changes to the Yukon's appearance and to the contents of some options packages.

We recommend

Unless seating for nine people is a necessity, we recommend the SLT trim. This trim level's tilt-and-telescoping wheel and power-adjustable pedals mean the vehicle can accommodate more comfortable driving positions for most buyers. It also adds some useful features such as power-folding second- and third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate and proximity entry with push-button start.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 GMC Yukon is a full-size SUV offered in SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. Most Yukons seat eight passengers, but an optional front bench seat on the SLE trim increases the capacity to nine. Second-row bucket seats are available on the SLT trim and standard on the Denali; they reduce passenger capacity to seven.

GMC offers 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. Four-wheel drive is available with a single-speed transfer case that is optional for all trims, and a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing is available. The Yukon Denali is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a new 10-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. The optional four-wheel drive includes a standard two-speed transfer case.

Standard features for the SLE trim include 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, side 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, front bucket seats (with a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat), 60/40-split folding second- and third-row seats, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, a teen-driver monitoring system, OnStar communications (including a 4G LTE connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot), a 110-volt household power outlet, Bluetooth, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Bose nine-speaker audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.

The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning and intervention. 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 and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, 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 the larger engine and 10-speed transmission, 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, adaptive suspension dampers, a trailer brake controller, a head-up display, active noise cancellation, second-row bucket seats, a navigation system 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 entertainment system. The Denali also offers power-retractable side steps and adaptive cruise control.



Driving

The base V8 feels strong, but only if you really stomp on the gas. Otherwise, the Yukon's sluggish throttle response and soft brake pedal make for a disconnected driving experience. Maneuverability in tight spaces is also an issue.

Comfort

The cabin is impressively quiet, and the front seats provide all-day comfort. The base suspension manages sharp impacts well, but surprisingly small road imperfections tend to give the cockpit the shakes. The powerful air conditioning has no issue regulating cabin temperatures.

Interior

The controls are easy to find and use. The big doors, side steps and grab handles mean entry and exit is relatively easy for such a tall vehicle. There's plenty of room for the first two rows, but the third row has a high floor and lacks legroom compared to smaller competitors.

Utility

An impressive maximum tow rating of 8,400 pounds and plenty of small-item storage in the cabin are definite strengths. But the cargo area has a high floor that makes loading and unloading difficult, and storage space behind the third row lags behind competitors, even significantly smaller ones.

Technology

Even the base Yukon comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a 4G hotspot with Wi-Fi. The GMC infotainment system is also generally easy to use. There are plenty of safety features, and driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist are available.

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.