NEW FOR 2009:

– Six-speed automatic transmission on 5.3- and 6.0-litre engines
– Fuel-saving 3.08 axle offered on 5.3-litre V8 2WD models
– Available OnStar 8.0 with Turn by Turn Navigation and Destination Download; XM satellite radio with new NavTraffic feature; heavy-duty trailering package; rearview camera system with rearview mirror display; third-row DVD system
– Standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
– Denali adds heated and cooled seats, new body side molding, power-adjustable heated steering wheel with easy entry/exit feature, and more powerful 6.2-litre V8 with FlexFuel capability
– Available 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels and integrated brake controller on Yukon
– Hybrid adds aerodynamically-enhanced exterior and low-rolling-resistance tires

For 2009, the GMC Yukon undergoes several changes, including a six-speed automatic transmission on all conventional models, luxury additions to the Denali model, and full availability of the Yukon Hybrid model, which was a late-year addition for 2008.

Also sold as the Chevrolet Suburban, the line-up comes as the Yukon and long-wheelbase Yukon XL in 1500 or 2500 configuration, as the Denali and Denali XL, and as the Hybrid, in the regular wheelbase. The Yukon and Hybrid come in two- or four-wheel drive, the Denali models with full-time all-wheel drive. Depending on the model, seating ranges from five to nine passengers.

Regular-wheelbase Yukon models use a 5.3-litre V8, while the Yukon XL can also be ordered with a 6.0-litre V8. The Denali uses a 6.2-litre V8. All conventional models use a six-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid uses a 6.0-litre V8 with Auto Stop capability and a two-mode continuous ratio electric transmission with four fixed gears. The system can launch and drive up to 48 km/h on electricity alone, and keep the 6.0-litre in its Active Fuel Management mode, running on four cylinders, for longer periods of time for improved fuel economy.

The Yukon comes as the SLE, SLT and Denali, while the Hybrid comes in a single SLT trim line.

Features on the SLE include 17-inch alloy wheels (16-inch on 2500), tri-zone manual climate control, black assist steps, privacy glass, heated mirrors, black roof rack side rails, variable intermittent wipers, fixed-delay rear wiper, cruise control, rear auxiliary heater, driver information centre, tire pressure monitoring system, leather-wrapped tilt wheel with audio controls, power windows with driver’s express-down, cloth 40/20/40 split-bench seat with six-way driver’s power adjustment, 60/40 split-folding second-row bench, CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, XM satellite radio, locking rear differential, trailer package, remote vehicle starter, automatic headlamps, keyless entry, OnStar, and anti-theft alarm. The Yukon XL includes a removable 50/50 split-bench third-row seat that is optional on the regular-wheelbase Yukon.

The SLT adds tri-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, roof rack crossbars, centre floor console, power-adjustable pedals, garage door opener, six-way leather bucket seats, six-CD/MP3 stereo, Bose premium sound system with subwoofer, second-row audio controls and headphone jacks, rear parking assist, and OnStar with Directions & Connections Plan.

The Hybrid is similarly equipped to the conventional SLT, but adds 18-inch low-mass aluminum wheels, unique fascias, third-row seating, aluminum liftgate with fixed rear window, power-folding heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, integrated turn signals, reverse tilt and puddle lamps, rearview camera system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 115-volt auxiliary outlet, heated seats, navigation system with XM NavTraffic, and electric power steering.

The Denali builds on the conventional SLT and adds 20-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, colour-keyed assist steps, Denali-specific full chrome grille, power liftgate, power-folding heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming integrated turn signals, reverse tilt and puddle lamps, chrome roof rack side rails, power sunroof, heated washer fluid system, cargo compartment mat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated leather-wrapped and wood steering wheel, heated and cooled 12-way perforated leather seats, heated second-row reclining bucket seats with power-release fold and tumble, Bose luxury sound system with AudioPilot noise reduction, road-sensing suspension with rear air auto-level system, and heavy-duty cooling package.

It’s bulky and its fuel economy isn’t impressive at the pumps, but the Yukon offers a comfortable ride, good steering feel and impressive acceleration. The Hybrid model handles some of the gas woes, with a promised improvement of up to 36 per cent when compared to its conventional siblings. All Yukon models can be optioned with three rows of seats, but the legroom afford by the longer-wheelbase Yukon XL will be necessary to make them tolerable for anything other than very short hauls.

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