The 2012 GMC Yukon (Base MSRP: $39,860 to $57,780), like the nearly identical 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe ((Base MSRP: $38,530 to $55,850)), is a solid choice among large SUVs according to all reviewers.
This is due primarily to its civilized road manners, mostly comfortable and well-appointed interior, available seating for nine occupants, and heavy tow capacity. The key differentiator between the Yukon and its Tahoe sibling is that the Yukon also offers an optional, more powerful 6.2-liter V8. A separate model, the 2012 GMC Yukon XL (Base MSRP: $57,450), is an extended wheelbase version covered under a separate full report. Likewise, the GMC Yukon Hybrid is covered in our separate report on Hybrid SUVs and Crossovers.
The base 5.3-liter V8, which produces 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, is shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe. ConsumerGuide.com calls the engine "muscular off the line and in highway passing." The Yukon's step-up engine, the 6.2-liter V8 (also found in the Cadillac Escalade), makes 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. Some reviewers don't notice much difference in normal driving with the upgraded engine.
Towing capacity in the base trim levels is 5,200 pounds and can be upgraded to 8,500 pounds with two-wheel drive and 8,200 pounds with four-wheel drive and the optional towing package. The Yukon Denali trim package includes both the more powerful 6.2-liter V8, and the towing package. It can pull 8,300 pounds when equipped with 2WD or 8,100 pounds with the available all-wheel-drive system. Edmunds.com declares that "it feels right at home when towing a trailer." Additionally, a 9-inch ground clearance aids in light off-road applications.
Neither engine option is very economical at the pump, but that's to be expected in such a large vehicle. The Environmental Protection Agency gives the 2012 GMC Yukon ratings of 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 mpg combined for both two- and four-wheel drive models with the base 5.3-liter V8. The 6.2-liter engine that makes more power gets worse fuel economy: 14 mpg city/18 mpg combined/16 mpg combined, making it one of the least fuel efficient large SUVs around. All engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and handles towing duty well.
Driving in the 2012 GMC Yukon is a pleasant experience according to the experts. Edmunds.com says that "the cabin is quiet and the suspension smoothes the bumps out without making handling in the corners feel sloppy," and adds that it "excels at highway cruising." Reviews of the similar Chevrolet Tahoe do note that under subpar road conditions, the ride can get bumpy.
The interior is quiet, generally well appointed and comfortable, reviewers point out. The lack of a telescoping wheel is seen as a demerit, however. It's a convenient feature that would help drivers find an even more comfortable driving position. With an optional bench seat in front, the Yukon can carry nine passengers, though reviewers note that the third-row seat is best suited for children due to its size. Furthermore, the third seat must be removed to achieve the maximum cargo space of 108.9 cubic feet, unlike rivals that offer folding units that hide flat in the floor when not in use.
Standard features include dual-zone climate control, three rows of seating, power seating, remote keyless entry and a nine-speaker Bose stereo. The highest trim level, Denali, has increased sound-dampening materials and piles in equipment that's optional on lower trims such as a DVD entertainment system, rear back-up camera and GPS navigation, in addition to the aforementioned 6.2-liter V8 engine and towing accessories.
Crash-test results for the 2012 GMC Yukon are good as well. Most large SUVs haven't been crash tested, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tested the 2012 Yukon. The Yukon gets a 4-star overall safety rating. Front and side impact protection both get the full 5 stars and rollover resistance receives a lower 3-star rating.
Reliability is expected to be average, according to a leading publication. The Yukon has a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, which is par for the course among large SUVs. The powertrain has a longer five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
If towing and carrying passengers are the most important factors in choosing your next vehicle, the 2012 GMC Yukon and its Chevy Tahoe sibling are capable choices. Unfortunately, recent comparison tests and reviews are hard to come by, primarily because the GMC Yukon is in most ways identical to the Chevrolet Tahoe, and both designs haven't changed much since the 2008/2009 model years. The declining popularity of large SUVs has also had an effect on review availability. Given that, check out our full review of the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, which provides basically the same driving experience as the 2012 Yukon optioned with the base engine.
Edmunds.com provides a comprehensive look at the 2012 GMC Yukon, noting that it's nearly identical to the similar 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. Given that, it's no surprise that the editors of Edmunds.com like the Yukon overall and consider it to be one of the best choices in the large SUV segment. Notably, the Denali trim level includes a powerful engine not available in the Chevrolet Tahoe, and it includes heavy-duty towing accessories as part of the trim package.
Review: 2012 GMC Yukon SUV, Editors of Edmunds.com, Jan. 24, 2012
2. Truck Trend
The editors of Truck Trend annually compile a list of the trucks they consider to be best-in-class, spanning 11 size and type categories. Truck Trend's reviews generally are focused on particular characteristics of trucks and SUVs, including off-road capability, towing ratings and load-carrying capacity. The GMC Yukon, along with the platform-twin Chevrolet Tahoe, take the Best-In-Class award for full-size SUVs.
Review: Truck Trend's Best in Class 2011: Full-Size SUV, Editors of Truck Trend, March 2011
Editors of ConsumerReports.org have sampled a Chevrolet Tahoe, which is nearly identical to the GMC Yukon. Note that the GMC Yukon does have a more powerful V8 option in the Denali trim, which isn't mentioned here. Aside from that upgraded engine, the road test here covers the same regular V8 engine option of the GMC Yukon. Reliability data is also provided. A subscription is required to access articles and data on ConsumerReports.org.
Review: Overview: 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
ConsumerGuide.com provides its traditional categorized yet brief review of the 2012 GMC Yukon, giving it numerical scores in a variety of categories. ConsumerGuide.com gives the Yukon its highest Best Buy recommendation, indicating that it performs well where expected and exemplifies the best of large SUVs.
Review: 2012 GMC Yukon: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, Not Dated
The 2012 GMC Yukon's base engine delivers 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 mpg combined fuel economy when equipped with two-wheel drive and the base 5.3-liter V8. Four-wheel drive and the optional 6.2-liter V8 both bring fuel economy down a bit.
Review: 2012 Sport Utility Vehicles, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, Not Dated
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tested the 2012 GMC Yukon, and it fares well just like its Chevrolet Tahoe twin. The Yukon's overall score is 4 stars out of 5. Front and side impact protection get a full 5 stars each, but rollover resistance is rated only 3 stars.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Not Dated