2023 GMC Yukon 4WD Denali Ultimate

The 2023 Yukon is one of the swankiest vehicles ever produced by GMC. This ginormous truck-based SUV has an upscale interior loaded with features and tech, plenty of room across three rows of seating, a comfortable ride, and a choice of three different engines so you can get the power you need. Drawbacks are a high price and poor fuel economy.

Base Price: $94,555
As Tested: $99,145
Horsepower: 420
Mileage: 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway/16 mpg combined

The Yukon competes with its corporate cousins, the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade, as well as other full-size mainstream and luxury SUVs including the Ford Expedition, Jeep Wagoneer, Lincoln Navigator, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

For 2023, the Yukon gets a new trim, the top-of-the-line Denali Ultimate, and GMC’s semi-autonomous driver assistance system, Super Cruise, is available on the top two trims.

There are five trims: SLE, SLT, AT4, Denali and Denali Ultimate. Starting prices range from $57,400 to $97,595. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the SLE, SLT and Denali trims and four-wheel drive is available on those trims for $3,000. The AT4 and Denali Ultimate trims come standard with 4WD.

There’s room for seven to nine passengers, depending on the trim and whether you get bench seats in the front and/or captain’s chairs in the second row. The SLE trim has the option of bench seating in all three rows, providing room for nine.

If the regular-size Yukon isn’t big enough for you, there’s the option of the XL with a longer wheelbase that provides even more space.

Three engines are available. The base engine is a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The 6.2-liter V8 cranks out 420 hp and 460 pound-feet. There’s also a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel that produces 277 horses and 460 pound-feet and is a great option for those wanting to have robust towing capability. All engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

My tester has the bigger V8. While there’s no denying that the Yukon is a huge vehicle, it has composed handling for the most part. There’s plenty of quick and smooth power. Acceleration is swift, and the Yukon can easily hustle for merging and passing at freeway speeds. However, the transmission doesn’t always shift down promptly. Once up to speed, the Yukon is a comfortable cruiser. Brakes are strong and steering has a good, weighted feel. As you’d expect in such a tall and bulky vehicle, there’s some noticeable body lean when cornering. And its bulk can make it challenging to drive on congested city streets or maneuver into tight parking spaces. Visibility is good to the front but hindered to the rear due to the thick back pillars.

When properly equipped, the Yukon can tow up to 8,400 pounds.

Fuel economy is about average for a large SUV. EPA ratings for my tester are 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway with a combined rating of 16. I got 16 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The cavernous cabin is attractive with many upscale touches; in fact, the upper trims are very close to what you’d find in some luxury brands. There’s a ton of space for passengers and cargo. Adults have generous leg- and headroom in the first two rows and will even be comfortable in the third row. It’s also easy to get in and out of the vehicle no matter where you’re sitting. A large touchscreen dominates the dash.

Standard features include remote start, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, 12-inch digital instrument cluster, infotainment system with 10.2-inch touchscreen and Google integration, navigation, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, satellite radio, six USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and two 120-volt household-style power plugs.

Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, rear-camera mirror, leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10- or 12-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, massaging front seats, heated steering wheel, heated outboard second-row seats, Bose audio system with nine, 14 or 18 speakers, dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, wireless device charging, universal garage door opener, in-vehicle safe, a panoramic sunroof and power-retractable side steps.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sensors, rear-seat alert, and Teen Driver (technology that lets you set speed, audio volume limits and more for your young drivers).

Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, Super Cruise (GMC’s semi-autonomous driver assistance technology), reverse collision warning, reverse automatic emergency braking, rear pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, and the driver’s Safety alert seat (the seat vibrates to warn you of potential objects as you approach).

The infotainment system with its big 10.2-inch touchscreen looks great. Graphics are sharp, menus are logically arranged, and the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. There are many physical controls for audio and climate settings so you don’t have to go through the touchscreen to make these adjustments. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.

Cargo space is excellent. There are 25.5 cubic feet with all three rows of seats in place, 72.6 cubes with the third row folded, and a whopping 122.9 cubes with the second and third rows folded. The Yukon XL has even more space: 41.5, 93.8 and 144.7 cubes. A power liftgate is available as are power-folding third row seats with a 60/40 split.

The good:

Comfortable ride

Composed handling

Plenty of power

Cavernous interior with lots of room for passengers and cargo

One of only a few vehicles with seating for up to nine

Many standard and available features and tech

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

High sticker price

Transmission doesn’t always downshift promptly

Noticeable body roll

Poor fuel economy (but average for a large SUV)

Bulky size can be challenging to maneuver

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $94,555. Super Cruise is $2,200. Titanium Rush Metallic paint is $495. Destination charge is $1,895 bringing the grand total to $99,145.

Bottom line:

The 2023 GMC Yukon is one of only a few large SUVs that has room for up to nine passengers. If you need space for people and cargo, as well as respectable towing capability, a truck-based SUV such as the Yukon delivers. It’s relatively easy to drive, considering its bulky size, has an upscale interior, comes well equipped, and has a user-friendly infotainment system. Downsides are poor fuel economy and a hefty price tag.

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