The world is a dynamic and ever-evolving place. However, few things change quite as dramatically as the flagship models of some of the industry’s leading automakers. Advancing on previous model generations can be a big step for any vehicle. Still, it can be hard for a nearly thirty-year-old classic that has earned praise throughout its various iterations—introducing the 2021 GMC Yukon. This is a reimagining of previous models that had made waves in the auto world for the degree of space, engine power delivery, and sheer luxury. While the GMC Yukon isn’t quite a luxury vehicle, the expansive cabin has been a treat throughout its many years on the road, particularly as trends toward smaller and smaller cars have expanded over time. The 2021 GMC Yukon is an attempt to continue to modernize a full-size SUV existing in an automotive world where compactness is in, and big, hefty V8 engines are out.
The 2020 GMC Yukon
The 2020 GMC Yukon was a decent hit, attracting any driver who had a need or a want for a large SUV, with a beefy exterior, a wide-open cabin, and a sizable engine to haul it all. The last generation of GMC Yukon came in four simple trims, the SLE, SLT Standard Edition, SLT, and Denali. There was also an option for an XL version where everything was scaled up to satisfy drivers who wanted little more utility in their SUV. The base engine on the smaller SLE model was a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine that utilized a 6-speed automatic transmission and a rear-wheel drivetrain to propel all that vehicle forward. All of this performance gear earned the 2020 GMC Yukon a rating of 355 horsepower, 383 lb-ft worth of torque, and a maximum tow rating of 6,500 pounds.
Of course, in typical GMC fashion, this base V8 wasn’t the only engine available to you. Optional in the SLT and standard in the Denali, you could step things up a notch with the powerful 6.2-liter V8, which was responsible for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft worth of torque, all of which was channeled through a 10-speed automatic transmission. At this power-maximum, drivers of the 2020 GMC Yukon could haul a maximum of 8,500 pounds, and if needed, could add a pretty robust 4WD that added to the traction and control of this incredible large SUV.
Speaking of large, the 2020 GMC Yukon rolled off of the factory floor with more than enough room to go around. Base, normal-sized models were able to enjoy 95 cubic feet of cargo space, but larger XL models urged that max capacity forward to a staggering 121 cubic feet of cargo space. As a three-row SUV, the amount of room in the XL threatened on being overwhelming. With so much vehicle to deal with, drivers would have to settle with truly abysmal fuel economy ratings, which in the V8 model hovered around 17 MPG combined.
While fuel economy may have been a severe dip in the 2020 GMC Yukon, there were some redeeming qualities about the interior. For instance, even base models were able to enjoy an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that sported crystal clear picture and snappy response time. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot was also standard, which allowed you to turn your vehicle into a mobile workspace. On top of that, no matter what model you purchased, you’d be getting a Bose audio system to give you the highest quality sound possible.
Higher-end models of the GMC Yukon were practically luxurious, with the option to pack on additional features like a rear-seat entertainment system, navigation, and a dazzling moonroof. Although in the Denali trim in particular, you’d get a Bose audio system that utilized active noise cancellation, 20-inch wheels, and a magnetic suspension to make riding in the 2020 GMC Yukon, feel more synonymous with riding on a cloud.
Although, it wasn’t all good for the 2020 GMC Yukon. High gas mileage and a severe lack of standard active safety features proved to be a great hindrance to this large SUV’s success. The 2020 GMC Yukon’s safety package was barebones at best, known only for a good assortment of airbags. GMC was wise to include more advanced features like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking as optional or even standard in higher models. However, this was a grave mistake as competitor vehicles managed to provide a better safety suite at a far lower price.
Learning from Mistakes for 2021
The 2020 GMC Yukon leaves the spotlight to make room for a next-generation SUV adding in more technology, and more premium features than what ought to start appearing on used lots later this year. The 2021 GMC Yukon introduces a whole lot of changes, one of them being the Yukon AT4, a more rugged version of this full-size SUV. The Yukon AT4 is expected to come with off-road gear that makes it far better at tackling off-road trails, both light, and challenging. Coupled with this new off-road version of the GMC Yukon is a more considerable amount of ground clearance, giving the SUV a far higher vantage point than before. While the exact measurements have yet to be confirmed, the exterior appearance already promises a more well-rounded and multi-faceted SUV.
Adding to the power of the 2021 GMC Yukon is a whole new line of gas-powered engines that deliver far more versatility of power than ever before. On the SLE, SLT, and AT4 models, drivers ought to expect a 5.3-liter EcoTec V8 engine, which pumps out 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft worth of torque. More power can be found in the Yukon Denali, which sports a 6.2-liter EcoTec V8 engine responsible for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft worth of torque. On top of that, GMC plans to introduce a third engine option, a brand new Duramax 3.0-liter Turbo-Diesel I-6, the specs and ratings of which have yet to be confirmed.
Technology is also taking a huge step forward in the GMC Yukon in the areas of both safety and infotainment. For instance, drivers will be able to utilize the latest in automotive technology to get a complete picture of their vehicle and the road around it. Features like a high-definition surround vision camera, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and lane-keep assist with lane departure warnings are all refreshing additions to the GMC Yukon. However, we’ve yet to see whether these features will be considered standard on all models or not.
In the realm of infotainment, technology is being revamped to the next level. One such feature, new to the GMC Yukon, is a 15-inch diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display, which can not only give you better road awareness but can make driving a far more seamless experience. A sprawling 10.2-inch diagonal touch screen will be added into the mix too, and will now include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making a connection to your smartphone simple and easy.
What We Think of What’s to Come
The 2020 GMC Yukon was a great car, no doubt, but we’re far more thrilled for what is coming just around the corner. From what we know so far, the 2021 GMC Yukon is going to completely revamp this already dependable SUV, adding more tech, more power, and a new trim that expands the vehicle’s appeal. While it is still too soon to tell, we think the 2021 GMC Yukon is bound to be a hit in the coming year.