2001 GMC Yukon - Family Affair
A Home-Brewed Yukon XL
Some readers may accuse us of preaching to the choir, but Edward Hsu's Yukon XL is a perfect example of why we're so faithful to fullsize SUVs. While we realize you probably don't need any convincing on the value of a nicely outfitted SUV, we still feel a need to trumpet our enthusiasm. You never know who might be listening, especially considering all the anti-SUV owner sentiment circulating - you'd think we were wearing fur coats to a "Save the Mink" convention or something. There are a whole lot worse things in life than burning a few more gallons of fuel than a diesel VW Rabbit.
Hsu had utterly good intentions when he decided to unload his BMW 540 for an SUV. You see, Hsu likes to go on long trips with his wife Cindy and 5-year-old daughter Catherine. To keep them entertained on the way to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, he needs a first-rate audio/video system, which just wouldn't fit in the Beemer. So, he just wanted to keep his family happy.
Before turning this '01 Yukon XL into a rolling Surround Sound theater, Hsu first threw on a set of premium-grade rims. Getting access to some good wheels wasn't real difficult, since he's a sales manager for CEC, which handles a wide range of wheels and other upgrades for sport and luxury vehicles.
Actually, deciding on which design to use may have been a bit of challenge, since he could pick just about anything, like a kid in a candy store. He has already swapped out the wheels more than once in the last few months. The latest ones are 22x10-inch Antera Type 301 SUV/Truck silver alloys, with a patented center-cap design that conceals the air valve.
When Hsu displays his Yukon at shows, a lot of people ask him, "Hey, where's the valve stem? How do you put air in these tires?" He just smiles and carefully removes the machined hex screws for the center cap, which has a special mounting bracket. The air channel to fill the tires runs through one of those finely sculpted spokes. Incidentally, for this application, the wheel offset is only 5 mm, instead of the stock 25 mm, in order to fit them flush with the GM factory flares.
With wheels worth about a grand each, Hsu didn't fool around with ordinary rubber. He went with P305/45R22 Nitto Extremes. The compound is a bit softer, for a better grip and smoother ride. The long-range wear may not be quite as high as more conventional tires, but he likes the improvement in the handling, which allows him to carve up 30-mph curves at more than 50 mph.
Hsu also plans to add some Bilstein monotube shocks to tune the suspension even further. A K&N FIPK intake system helps the Vortec V-8 breathe a little easier, and to bring this big rig to a clenching halt, Race Technology installed some Brembo brakes with four-piston full-floating calipers, and vented and slotted 15-inch rotors.
On the cosmetic side, Hsu added a Street Scene custom mesh grille and a monochromatic paint scheme, with the GM pewter hue extended to the bumpers and pillars as well. Overall, the look is a mild custom, with most of the attention going to those eye-catching rims. Sometimes less is more, and Hsu chose the Yukon for its smooth and subtle shape, preferring it to those hard-edged designs that stick out like a sore thumb.
Now, about that entertainment system in the cabin. It starts with an Alpine IVA-C800 in-dash multimedia system, a CHA-1214 12-disc CD changer, and a DHA-S680 six-disc DVD changer. By the way, Catherine Hsu's favorite video happens to be Ice Age, which she will loudly point out if it's not playing on one of the three TME-M750A 6.5-inch monitors.
When Mom and Dad want to listen to some tunes, an Alpine MRD-F752 440-watt amplifier pumps them out through an Alpine R-Series tweeter/mid/subwoofer. To make sure father Hsu finds that great picnic spot in Yosemite, he also has an Alpine NVE-N851A DVD navigation system.
For keeping the House of Hsu safe, there's also an Alpine SEC-8063 security system. Since his wife Cindy has a love/hate relationship with the Yukon (she can't stand trying to park it), Hsu also added a rear-view camera that displays both sides of the vehicle with the flick of a switch. Not only does it simplify maneuvering, it,'s also great for making sure the vehicle does not accidentally back into any of those anti-SUV protesters.
Claus Ettensberger CorpWest Los Angeles, CA 90025