In our 2007 Sport/Utility of the Year competition, we got our first taste of how good the new GMT900 SUV platforms are. Everyone was impressed with the stellar leap forward GM made with the new Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. At a time when fuel prices and crossover sales continued to rise, GM took a chance and put a lot of its resources into a big SUV, a risk that seems to be paying off. We wanted a closer look and asked GM to send us one of its newest. The truckmaker offered a GMC Yukon SLT with nearly every option available, bringing the bottom line close to $50,000, but the premium pricing was not without justification.
From the start, logbook notes about the exterior fit and finish cited this new GMT900 as "possibly one of the best GM has to offer to date." Interior praises were unanimous as well, consistent with our 2007 SUOTY experience--the new, integrated, organic look of the dash, gauges, and center stack headed in the direction of Audi-esque attention to detail. Even with those significant improvements, when it came to the physical size of the sport/ute, our staff was split. One group thought it was just too large for their needs, while others, more likely to carry friends or family members, commented on how easy the vehicle was to navigate around town or on long trips.
Either way, all were reminded of its size each time we filled up at a fuel station. Thanks in large part to the cool trip computer (allowing drivers to scroll through a series of computer calculations and sensor readouts), we kept track of exactly how much fuel was used at any given second, as well as our overall average--good information that allowed us to record 18.1 mpg when cruising on the highway with a slight tailwind and in no particular hurry. However, it also displayed the 9.8-mpg tankful when stuck in L.A. start-and-stop traffic, carrying six large teenage boys and gear around town on a sports-themed scavenger hunt.
Average city economy was about 13 mpg, rising to 15.5 mpg on the highway. That's not great, but better than it would've been without the 5.3-liter V-8's cylinder deactivation (called Active Fuel Management). We've liked this technology in the past, and our experience here was no different. It's almost impossible to detect any engine vibration when it transitioned between V-8 and V-4 mode.
Our long-termer was equipped with GM's pushbutton power-release mechanism for the second-row seats, allowing passengers easy access to the third row. Other manufacturers have electronic third-row seating, but GM is the only one to offer a one-touch second-row flip-and-fold option. In fact, the Yukon's third-row seats became the subject of much debate, as they require users to either yank out one or both 40-pound seats when maximum storage is needed. Each one is the size of a large suitcase, so they're not easy to store or install, either. We all appreciated the power rear liftgate, making life much easier when loading or unloading daily supplies or photographic gear, especially in bad weather. The two most consistent critiques in the logbook focused on the cumbersome third row and the lack of a five- or six-speed transmission (ours had a four-speed).
The Yukon was relatively problem-free, with a couple of exceptions: The right rear tire picked up a screw that had to be replaced at a local tire center, which caused the tire-pressure sensors to malfunction. We eventually discovered the store had swapped the left and right wheels during the repair without resetting the pressure sensors, so we were getting all sorts of inaccurate readings. It was at our 15,000-mile service (when a key-fob issue was resolved, as was the tire-monitor mystery) that the world was set right again for $435.53. Our service report noted a battery-rundown recall service performed as well, but we never experienced any problems. (The 7500-mile service was uneventful--just filters and lubes, at a cost of $49.19.)
After more than 20,000 miles of Los Angeles commuting, weekend trips up the coast, road-test chasing, a few vacations, and four separate photographic/video-crew hauls, the GMC Yukon served us well and held up like a champ. Not bad when you consider our 2007 SUOTY winner, the M-B GL450, cost about $20,000 more.