I've been looking for a better way to sum up my thoughts on some of the vehicles I get to test, and then I remembered CliffsNotes. Those little yellow books summarizing literature saved my bacon more than once in high school when I didn't find the time to actually read the assignment. If you have never heard of CliffsNotes, think of them as Wikipedia published on dead trees.
For the past week, I have been driving the all-new GMC Yukon. My passing thoughts:
1. It's massively mean: When you climb up into this SUV you're reminded how big a vehicle can get. Its sheer size and brute force from the 5.3L V-8 tends to make you drive more aggressively. Tony Soprano would drive this.
2. Easy to drive: Despite the Yukon's size, it remains a very easy vehicle to handle. The steering feel is slightly numb but appropriate. The ride is quiet and compliant and nary a harsh bump is felt. For Michigan's pothole-ridden roads, this machine is magnificent, especially on its big 20-inch wheels.
3. Parking assist: I love the parking assist system. The vibrating seat reminds you to look, the backup camera gives you a great view, and the sensor in the front that relays a picture to the instrument panel makes it extremely easy to pull into a space and never trade paint with another vehicle. It's genius, easy to use, and works as ordered.
4. Front end: The front of the Yukon is beautiful, but the rest of this SUV is merely average. I understand that this vehicle is more about utility and capability, but its profile looks as if the clay models were sculpted with a meat cleaver.
5. USB Plus: Nowadays, can you really have too many USB ports in a vehicle? On the Yukon, there are two in the center stack, two inside the center console, two more for second-row passengers, and one in the hidden storage space behind the stereo face. If you drive a big SUV you likely have kids. Everyone wants a dedicated USB port of their own and on long trips those become more important than cupholders.
6. Second row comfort: The standard captain's chairs in the second row are better than many cars' front seats, though the legroom feels limited. Also, the gap between the two seats in the second row makes for excellent access to the third row. While the third-row legroom is lacking, if you sit in the middle of it you can stretch your legs between the two seats in the second row.
7. Not so flat: It's a huge improvement that the third row can fold down at the touch of a button. However, the floor is far from flat and slopes out toward the rear door, causing smaller items to roll back and potentially fall out when the liftgate comes up. GMC also lifted the back of the floor and placed a shelf under the floor. But it seems like a waste of space.
8. Big vehicle, big price: The GMC Yukon is expensive. It starts at $47,000 but it can climb quickly to nearly $60,000. This may be just me getting older (I think $4 for a Big Mac is too much) but no matter how old you are, $60K is a lot of money.
9. Good technology: Sometimes vehicles come with technology that was put on a vehicle just because it was available. The Yukon, however, makes excellent use of its high-tech features such as its blind-spot detection. This feature is so useful, I won't be surprised when the government mandates that all vehicles have it. (This has already happened with backup cameras.)
10. Regular or Denali? GMC is happy to tell you that most Yukon buyers tend to bump up the purchase to the higher-end Denali package. This includes a more powerful 6.2L and additional features, and it also has a base price of $63,000. I think the base Yukon is more than enough for most people and I like the more stout shape of this model over the Yukon XL, which does give you more room -- it has as much square footage as some New York City apartments. If you need a truck but want to carry more people, the Yukon will easily fill the need. It's a lot of vehicle, but as far as utility goes, it serves a lot of purposes.