Flagship SUV: 2021 GMC Yukon

2021 GMC Yukon AT4

VAIL, Colorado — The new 2021 GMC Yukon — the brand’s flagship full-size, three-row SUV — is coming soon to a Whole Foods parking lot near you. Introduced in a snow-covered field, perfectly timed to the setting sun, the new Yukon is bigger, more capable, and more luxurious than ever.

The GMC Yukon event in Vail, Colorado (Jordan Golson/For the North State Journal)

Highlighting the update is the new interior, which is a significant improvement from the outgoing model. The biggest wow comes from the Power Sliding Center Console, which can move back ten inches to reveal a cavernous space for a handbag or purse, as well as a secret hidden compartment which may or may not be just the right size for a handgun — which GMC’s North Carolina-based buyers may appreciate.

The outside looks sharp, with the lux-focused Denali trim getting so much chrome that you might mistake it for a Cadillac Escalade. The off-road focused AT4 sports a less fiddly grille and sharp red tow hooks and is, in my humble opinion, definitely the one to buy.

A new four-corner air ride active suspension system allows the truck to move up or down up to two inches (four inches of travel total), to help with off-road travel or to ease ingress and egress — and it’ll also drop the ride height by 3/4 of an inch at highway speeds to help aerodynamics and fuel economy. A new Magnetic Ride Control option helps to reduce the body roll and bouncing that is common with large SUVs.

A slew of high-definition camera views come over from GM’s full-size trucks (and I’ve raved about this before), meaning you’ll get video help when parking, reversing, and towing.

Big engines, including a 6.2-liter V8 420-horsepower option are available, as well as GM’s terrific new 3-liter inline-six turbo-diesel which should deliver a nice chunk of improved fuel economy, an interesting option for high mileage buyers. All the engines have a ten-speed automatic transmission.

It’s not just horsepower that has grown in the new Yukon. Wheelbase and overall length are up by 4.9- and 6.1-inches in the Yukon, while the longer Yukon XL seems them grow by 4.1- and 0.9-inches respectively. That puts the Yukon XL (GMC’s version of the Chevy Suburban) at 225.2 inches, or just shy of nineteen feet long. XL indeed.

Third-row legroom is up in the Tahoe-sized Yukon, growing by an impressive 10.1″, while overall cargo room behind the third row is up 10.2 cubic feet. With the second row sliding 5.5 inches, a new feature for 2021, third-row access is easier too.

Automatic emergency braking will be standard on all models, with available features like rear pedestrian alert available as options.

The new GMC Yukon and Yukon XL will be built at GM’s Arlington, Texas assembly facility. Pricing wasn’t announced, though GMC said the new trucks will hit dealers this summer.

(L to R) 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 and Denali

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(L to R) 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 and Denali

About Jordan Golson 60 Articles
Jordan Golson is North State Journal's automotive reporter. He covers cars - both foreign and domestic - from around the globe.