2015 GMC Yukon, Yukon Denali, Yukon XL Denali. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Greg Wilson
Dawson City, Yukon – This far north, the leaves are already starting to turn yellow in August and daylight hours stretch well into the evening. When the Sun finally sets around 10:30 pm, the temperature drops to five degrees Celsius and a cold breeze hustles pedestrians along Dawson City’s boardwalks into popular refuges like the Sourdough Saloon, home of the famous sour toe cocktail (you don’t want to know) and Bombay Peggy’s Pub (formerly the Old Whorehouse) where you can order provocatively-named martinis such as Titillating Tart, Brazen Hussy, Fragrante Delicto and Spank my Naughty Ass.
Indeed, a strong drink (or two) in the Klondike may be an effective way of staying warm in an unforgiving climate where the temperature drops to minus 10 C in the first week of September, and regularly hits minus 50 C in mid winter. The coldest it ever got in Dawson City was minus 67 degrees Celsius for three straight weeks in February, 1997 says Peggy, our host from Yukon Tourism. Everything creaks and groans at that temperature, she says, even the people.
But we’re here in August when the weather is relatively mild and the unpaved roads in downtown Dawson haven’t yet turned to mud, or frozen mud. We’ve just driven over 500 kilometres from Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon, through some of the most beautiful and isolated landscapes on the continent. It’s a vast, mountainous and unpopulated territory – only 34,000 people live in the Yukon permanently – but in the summer, thousands of tourists in tour buses and camper vans make their way north to the Yukon and Alaska to see what unspoiled wilderness looks like. Even so, their numbers get lost in the vastness of it all.
Our first drive of the new 2015 GMC Yukon in the Yukon Territory turned out to be more than an opportunity for a good headline. This full-size SUV is well-suited to northern lifestyles. Like the current model, the 2015 Yukon is a rugged half-ton, body-on-frame four-wheel drive family vehicle available in standard and long wheelbase versions with two-row and three-row seating for up to nine people. For some people, it’s the equivalent of an all-season minivan without the soccer-mom stigma.
Like its corporate cousins, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL have been redesigned for the 2015 model year with upgrades to the styling, powertrain, chassis, suspension, interior design, safety features and communication and infotainment systems: in fact, there’s not much that hasn’t been touched.
The new styling is evolutionary and bolder, echoing the current trend with GMC pickups. New styling updates include wrapover headlight covers and C-shaped LED daytime running lights, new front bumper design with a bigger two-bar grille, a taller and flatter aluminum hood, prominent shoulder lines under the side windows that extend from the nose to the tail, new tail lights, an aluminum liftgate, and a hidden rear wiper under the top spoiler. The top-of-the-line Yukon Denali continues to offer its unique ‘cheese-grater’ grille, HID projector beam headlights, more chrome and optional 22-inch tires and alloy wheels.
2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali, Yukon Denali wheel, dashboard. Click image to enlarge