Break out your ‘big’ jokes, because this is one colossal rig. The 2015 GMC Yukon XL is surely one of the largest land vehicles still roaming mall parking lots and suburbia.
For an average guy commuting from suburbia to the office, it is most certainly overkill, but contrary to expectations, I gained an appreciation for its utility in this XL trim. In no other vehicle short of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter passenger van and its like will you find this much space behind a third row of seats with legitimate space for six or seven adults.
But it was the trim of this rolling beast that made the best impression, this Yukon in GMC’s well-loved Denali trim, which finally seems to be coming into its own as a luxurious take on their ‘Professional Grade’ trucks. The last time we were in a Denali, it was the Acadia crossover, and it felt extremely underwhelming for a vehicle costing over $60K. But this Denali, between its quality, size and capability, lives up to its $84,440 as-tested price.
Let’s get right inside and talk about the XL’s most important asset: cargo space. Even with all three rows in place we still have over 1,000 L of space (1,113), although the liftover height is for big and tall people and it would be quite a leap for your canine pal. Only the Lincoln Navigator L or Ford Expedition Max exceed that (and in every other configuration as well), and while a Honda Odyssey comes close with 1,089, its cargo area isn’t as long and wide, but rather sinking down below seat level in a well, while the Yukon and its ilk have a wide flat floor to spread out your gear or Costco acquisition. My demonstration was a set of 17-inch alloys with summer rubber. Note that this is with the third row up. The trunk can be set to only open to three-quarter height, when opening in an enclosed garage for example, set by a simple dial in the overhead console.
In five-seat mode, the Yukon XL rates 2,173 L, the third row power folding. The Second row can also be dropped at the touch of a button in the cargo bay, but not raised as well lie the third row. With second and third-row seats down, its 3,429 L look like an endless cavern where you and a dozen of your closest friends can cuddle up for a slumber party. However, in full cargo mode, the Honda Odyssey offers 4,205 L and the Grand Caravan 4,072 L, so these are not the out-and-out cargo champs in every category. Still, how many refrigerators are you transporting at any one time? Note that the payload for the Yukon XL is 689 kg, while the Odyssey or Grand Caravan are also in the 600 range.
Need to carry more? The Yukon XL can tow. 3,583 kg in Denali trim (slightly more in 2WD trims, but a lot less in 4×4 SLE and SLT trims) means you can tow your typical small power boats and campers with ease. Minivans can’t match that. Also standard on Denali trims are the trailer brake controller, weight-distributing hitch platform with 51-mm (2 in.) hitch receiver and 7-pin sealed wiring connector.