Test Drive: 2015 GMC Yukon XL Review

The first GMC Suburban ever built was in 1937, three years after Chevrolet built the first Suburban. Now 77 years later, we have the first major change in large GM SUVs since 2007. The GMC Suburban is now known as the GMC Yukon XL, a sister vehicle to the self-proclaimed “National Car of Texas”, the Chevy Suburban.

The changes to the 2015 large SUVs are substantial. First and foremost, you can finally get the power-folding third row seat, and it is the fastest operation I have ever seen. Exterior changes are immediately noticeable. Inlaid doors flow into the roofline and make the Yukon more aerodynamic and give it a sleeker look, in spite of the fact that it is wider and longer than the 2014.

My test vehicle is the 4-wheel drive SLT version of the 2015 GMC Yukon XL. It comes with an updated 5.3-liter V8 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. You get GM’s Active Fuel Management System, which cuts you down to 4 cylinders when cruising. It runs on either regular fuel or you can run E85 if you wish. This combo gives you 355-horses, and 383-pound feet of torque. If you step up to the Denali, you can get that awesome 6.2-liter V8.

As pretty as it is on the outside, with headlights and taillights that flow into the body and a more squared look, the real beauty is on the inside. You can seat 8 or 9 people depending on the center seat you choose, and every one of your occupants will be comfortable. The leather seats are soft and comfortable, and the stitching on the seats, steering wheel, and dash add richness to the interior.

From behind the steering wheel, a new dash ebbs and flows attractively, and an eight-inch LCD screen is conveniently positioned high in the center stack, and presents logically grouped infotainment and tri-zone air conditioning controls. A new instrument cluster with a small central screen is attractive and easy to read, offering you a host of different information. The wood you see is real, not plastic, and anything aluminum is made of real aluminum. Overall, this is a comfortable and pleasing cabin for long or short trips.

2015 GMC Yukon XLGM also added a lot of driver-assist technology. There is adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and other features that make life a little easier, and your driving experience more pleasant. The Lane Change Alert uses a vibrator in the seat to alert you when the SUV has begun to change lanes without using your blinker. The vibrating seat cushion also is used for other features that require a driver’s immediate attention, like when the vehicle senses you are going to hit something. Personally, I like the seat notification because it informs the driver, but not everyone in the vehicle, of an urgent situation.

Standard features abound. Most notable is rearview camera, electronic stability control, keyless entry, and a power, programmable rear tailgate. Other freebies include pushbutton start, remote start, heated second row seat, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel with controls, memory drivers seat, Bluetooth, power adjustable pedals, and a 110-volt power outlet.

Options on the SLT I am driving include a power sunroof, navigation system, and a rear DVD/game system with drop-down monitor. Those items are bundled together for $2805 retail. My Quicksilver tester has some sharp 20” polished aluminum wheels for $1400. $650 gets you the max-trailering package with a built-in trailer brake controller. The power second row captains chairs will set you back $590, and a theft-deterrent system runs $395.

Is the GMC Yukon XL for everyone? No. For some, it is just too big. It is 17-feet long, 6 ½-feet wide, and it weighs in at almost three tons. On the other hand, if you need to carry 8 or 9 people, and still have a ton of cargo area in the back, or you need to tow an 8200-pound trailer, this may be the rig for you. It is enjoyable to drive, ultra-quiet inside, and qualifies as a true luxury SUV.

It was a long time coming, but all the changes to the new Yukon XL were well thought out, and 100% positive.

What I liked most: The interior and exterior appearance, quiet interior.

What I would change: I don’t find the exterior mirrors to be large enough.

MSRP: Base price $60,435, as equipped $67,270.

Fuel Economy: 15 in town/22 highway/18 combined.

Weight: 5926 Pounds

Fuel Tank Capacity: 26 gallons

2015 GMC Yukon XL in a few words: Go big or go home, in the Yukon XL!

Warranty: 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 2 years/24,000 miles of free maintenance and roadside assistance.

Manufacturers website: http://www.gmc.com/yukon-xl-denali-premium-suv.html

Dealers: We have great dealers for all Buick and GMC products in Dallas-Fort Worth, Granbury, TX, Austin, Houston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

  1. Jim 5 years ago

    I own a 2009 Chevy Suburban, LT trim. I paid 44K OTD. While this is probably a better vehicle, it’s not 20K+ better. That’s a 50% increase. It seems to me that cars, like colleges and healthcare increase more than inflation, while salaries remain stagnant. Sure, dealers make borrowing the money easier, but I can’t justify the increase in debt.

    • Rob 4 years ago

      The 2015 suburban is NOT $20K more. It is priced at $49K. Also this is may 2014 for a 2015 model. Im sure you got your 09 in the same year or 2010.

      Also, I think it is DEFINITELY worth $5K or more than the 2009 model.

  2. Sherry 2 years ago

    I want to buy a large pre-owned SUV, and looking at a 2014 or earlier Suburban or Yukon XL or possibly a Toyota Sequoia (for Toyota’s ratings/dependability). I keep cars for 10 years, so will look for 50K or less miles I think.
    1. are there other large SUVs I should consider in my search?
    2. do you have a ranking of large SUVs?
    3. I believe I saw a comment you made ranking Sequoia further down your priority list behind Chevy/GMC, and I wondered why when I read so much about Toyota dependability.

    Thank you for your insight and perspective!

    • Amy Plemons 2 years ago

      Good to hear from you. The Sequoia is a great SUV, it just ride or drive as well as the Suburban or Yukon and the interior isn’t as nice. The Toyota is probably the BEST past 200,000 miles, so if that is your priority, it’s probably your answer. Check our dealers from the website, they’ll take good care of you.

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