2021 GMC Yukon

Coming Summer 2020

2021 GMC Yukon
Estimated Price: Starting around $55,000

What to expect
  • A larger footprint and even larger interior
  • Three engine choices, including a fuel-efficient diesel
  • Off-road AT4 and luxury-oriented Denali trim levels
  • Part of the fifth Yukon generation introduced for 2021
2021 GMC Yukon Review
GMC Pans for Gold With the Yukon
What is it?

The all-new 2021 GMC Yukon represents the fifth generation in the SUV's history and aims to add more refinement and luxury, along with more utility and volume, to GMC's five-passenger full-size offering.

Compared to the previous model, the 2021 Yukon is 6.1 inches longer bumper-to-bumper, with 4.9 inches of that increase in its wheelbase. Cargo capacity increases 10.2 cubic feet, to 25.5 cubic feet behind the third-row seats. The maximum cargo capacity increases 28.2 cubic feet, measuring 122.9 cubic feet. The larger 2021 Yukon XL is only 0.9 inch longer, but its wheelbase increases by 4.1 inches. Cargo space behind the third row is 41.1 cubic feet (an increase of 1.8 cubes), while the maximum capacity is now 144.7 cubic feet (an increase of 23 cubes).

When the Yukon goes on sale in the summer of 2020, shoppers can choose from three engines. These include a new standard 5.3-liter V8 and a 6.2-liter V8 that's good for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. There will also be a 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder turbodiesel that promises improved fuel economy. Both gasoline engines will feature cylinder deactivation and automatic stop-start to increase efficiency. All engines will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

In addition to the luxurious Denali trim, the Yukon will also be offered in a new AT4 model that places emphasis on legitimate off-road capabilities. Available features include a two-speed transfer case, all-terrain tires, selectable terrain modes, underbody skid plates, unique interior color palettes, heated front and second-row outboard seats, and a heated steering wheel. GMC will also offer an air-ride suspension system that provides 4 inches of ride height adjustment, from a low passenger access setting to an off-road mode that adds an additional 2 inches of ground clearance over the standard ride height.

Opting for the top Denali trim will get you a unique interior with improved materials. Also offered will be a camera system that provides nine views, including an unobstructed mirror projection as well as the transparent trailer view offered on the newest GM trucks. Other available features will include Magnetic Ride Control, a 15-inch color head-up display, a power-sliding center console and a new Active Response 4WD system. Typical advanced safety features will also be offered, including a blind-spot monitor that can compensate for the added length of a towed trailer.

Why does it matter?

There's no doubt that SUVs rule car sales. Over the last decade, they've strayed from the truck-based platforms and lost some of the old utilitarian capabilities. The Yukon lineup continues to be based on GM pickup trucks and retain the towing and off-road prowess that car-based crossovers lack. But there is a price for those capabilities. These body-on-frame vehicles generally come up short when it comes to overall ride comfort, interior packaging and fuel efficiency. 

The current Ford Expedition proved it doesn't always need to be that way, and it's been a surprise sales success for Ford. The redesigned Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon look to borrow some of Ford's formula, hoping for a similar success. With GM slipping in the full-size truck market, a win in the large SUV market is more important than ever.

What does it compete with?

Not surprisingly, the most direct competitors to the 2021 GMC Yukon are its GM clones. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban have both been redesigned for 2021 as well, sporting many of the same functional improvements as the new Yukon. We also expect a new Escalade soon.

Our top pick in the full-size SUV segment is the Ford Expedition, a behemoth of a machine with excellent passenger space and towing capabilities. It doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary in terms of off-road capability, but it does behave wonderfully on the pavement. If GMC can challenge the Expedition for refinement and utility, and add some extra off-road juice, it could have a winner on its hands.

2021 GMC Yukon vs. 2020 GMC Yukon

The outgoing Yukon lost points for sticking too close to its roots: Its truck-based rear suspension compromised ride quality and ate up interior space, making for a smaller trunk with a high load floor. If you wanted a big trunk in a 2020 model, you'd need to upgrade to the Yukon XL. GMC kept the outgoing Yukon's infotainment features up-to-date, although other technology features such as driver aids came only on higher trim levels and proved relatively unsophisticated.

With the 2021 model on the way, is it worth looking for a deal on a previous-generation 2020? That depends on your needs. The 2020 Yukon still has powerful engines and an impressive tow rating, but the 2021 model promises more refinement, better packaging, more cargo and passenger room, and improved technology, along with a more off-road-ready AT4 trim.

Look for a deal on a 2020 GMC Yukon near you.

EdmundsEdmunds says

On paper, the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon has the goods to make a big impression on the SUV class. GMC is aiming for a unique blend of luxury, refinement, technology and brawn to appeal to a wide swath of shoppers. Check back as we get closer to its on-sale date for more information and driving impressions.

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