2022 GMC Yukon, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2022 GMC Yukon XL Denali Duramax Diesel First Test: You Can’t Miss It
New software spurs us to invite this diesel Yukon Denali in for a quick test.
- Stylish and showy
- Refined driving experience
- Smooth diesel power
- Latest software is buggy
- New digital gauges don’t add much
- Still needs better interior materials at this price
The 2022 GMC Yukon XL Denali Duramax is not easily missed. As large as a house and as heavy as the band Gojira, it’s fitted with wheels so huge and chrome trim so bright, your Boomer neighbors will toss out words like “dubs” and “bling” to describe it, like it’s 2002 all over again.
Despite its larger-than-life persona, GMC has been steadily improving the Yukon since its 2021 launch. While the headline change this year is the new Yukon Denali Ultimate Edition, GMC also rolled out some changes to the Yukon Denali’s infotainment suite, and that—plus the fact we hadn’t yet tested a rear-drive diesel Yukon XL—spurred us into the driver’s seat of this example.
What’s New With The 2022 Yukon XL Denali?
Although it’s easy to reduce the changes to the 2022 Yukon XL Denali as just “new screens and some Google,” they’re a bit more extensive. Perhaps realizing the workaday GM infotainment system left a bit to be desired, the 2022 Yukon Denali now features the same Google-based infotainment system as the GMC Hummer EV Pickup.
This new suite features the Google Maps functionality we were all already using via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus access to Google’s app store, and it allows you to log in with your Google account to seamlessly transition from desktop, to mobile, to car. GMC also updated the Yukon Denali’s instrument cluster—it’s now a reconfigurable 12.0-inch digital screen that pairs with a 15.0-inch head-up display.
The Yukon XL Denali is available with two engines; the 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6 in our GMC is the standard engine, and a 6.2-liter gas V-8 is a $1,500 upcharge. You’ll trade the shouty 420-hp V-8’s burble for the clattery Duramax’s 277 hp, but the diesel’s V-8-matching 460 lb-ft of torque and 23-mpg EPA combined rating (versus a measly 16 mpg for the 6.2) makes it an easy sacrifice. All Yukons sport a 10-speed automatic transmission.
How Does The Yukon XL Denali Duramax Drive?
We’ve yet to meet a single human that doesn’t like the experience of a V-8—if such a person exists, we probably don’t want to meet them—but the Yukon XL Denali’s Duramax is such a lovely engine that we don’t miss the classic GM small-block eight-cylinder. The inline-six is a torquey, smooth-revving engine that doesn’t run out of breath like a lot of other diesels. If it weren’t for the 10-speed auto’s quick, decisive, nearly imperceptible shifts and the Duramax’s soothing purr, it’d be easy to call the experience electric-like.
The rear-drive diesel Yukon XL Denali is slower than the gas-powered version, though. We clocked it at a respectable 8.0 seconds to 60 mph and 16.2 seconds through the quarter mile at 85.4 mph. We haven’t tested a 6.2-powered Yukon XL Denali, but a mechanically identical Cadillac Escalade ESV reached 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 95.2 mph. In the real world, the differences are bound to be so slim as to be irrelevant. You don’t buy a Yukon Denali to drive fast—you buy it for the cushy, luxury experience.
Inside The Yukon XL Denali
And on that, the GMC starts to falter somewhat. The fundamentals are good, as the Yukon steers well and its ride quality is firm but forgiving—credit the MagneRide dampers and air springs for taming the 22-inch, uh, “dubs.” However, interior material quality is on the wrong side of the luxury ledger, which is especially hard to ignore considering this Yukon’s $84,420 sticker price.
As for the new software, well, that’s hit or miss, too. The good news is that the Google integration in the main center infotainment display is generally successful. It’s easy to log in with your Google account, and the Maps feature accurately replicates the phone app. The screen can be a bit laggy to respond at times, but provided GMC stays on top of software updates, this can likely be improved in the future.
The new digital instrument cluster is a nice add-on, too, but its main flaw is that it doesn’t add any new functionality—it just replicates analog gauges digitally. There are a handful of layouts available, but they just present the same data differently. We also had a few software bugs with the display, including that it wouldn’t load data such as the drive mode or tire pressure when exercising what little customizability exists in the system. GMC missed a huge opportunity to leverage its new Google integration into an experience that rivals Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard display.
The GMC Yukon XL Denali’s new technologies are promising if incomplete; however, they’re not likely to be a major purchase consideration in the first place, so there is some leeway to be granted. And while GMC (and GM as a whole) still needs to improve the quality of its interior materials in upscale vehicles, the Yukon XL Denali Duramax largely succeeds at being a comfortable, spacious, nice-driving SUV that can’t be ignored.
Looks good! More details?
|2022 GMC Yukon XL Denali Duramax Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$84,420|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.0L Turbodiesel direct-injected DOHC 24-valve I-6|
|POWER (SAE NET)||277 hp @ 3,750 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||460 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||6,036 lb (51/49%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||225.2 x 81.0 x 76.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.2 sec @ 85.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||125 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.70 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.1 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/27/23 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||644 miles|
- HIGHSRoomy in all three rows of seats, multiple engine options, refined road manners.
- LOWSChevy Tahoe sibling is just as nice and slightly cheaper, garage-hogging dimensions, disappointing fuel economy.
- VERDICTIf you’re minivan-averse but still need the space to haul both people and cargo at the same time, the GMC Yukon is hard to beat.
Outside of a Savana passenger van, nothing in the GMC truck lineup simultaneously hauls people and cargo as well as the 2022 Yukon and long-wheelbase Yukon XL. Closely related to the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, the Yukon lineup can be had with either a 5.3- or 6.2-liter gasoline-powered V-8 engine or a turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six.
No matter which engine is under the hood, the Yukon delivers stout towing capacity and a refined on-road demeanor, earning it an Editors’ Choice award. The cabin is spacious in all three rows and the Yukon can be ordered in a variety of trims that escalate in luxuriousness, culminating in the high-end Denali trim.
What’s New for 2022?
Although it was all-new last year, the Yukon receives a tech upgrade for 2022 that includes a newly-standard 12.0-inch digital gauge display and a new infotainment interface that was developed in partnership with Google. On the mechanical front, the 6.2-liter V-8 is now available on the AT4 trim and can be equipped with a dual exhaust system. The top-end Denali now offers the previously optional power-sliding center console as standard equipment. Redwood Metallic joins the color palette, too.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
While the rough-and-tumble AT4—with its butch looks and off-road equipment—and the luxurious Denali—with its hand-stitched leather interior—seem the most compelling, the one to go for is actually the well-equipped and more affordable SLT. This mid-range model comes packed with features that most buyers are looking for, including leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, 20-inch wheels, a power rear liftgate, and a suite of driver-assistance features.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Similar to the last-generation Yukon, two V-8 engines are offered: a 355-hp 5.3-liter and a 420-hp 6.2-liter. In addition to those gasoline-burning engines, GMC also offers a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-six that makes a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque and should be the choice for buyers who intend to tow heavy items. All models come with a 10-speed automatic transmission operated by a push-button panel on the dashboard and will offer either rear- or all-wheel drive.
An off-road-oriented AT4 model is also available and features a two-speed transfer case, 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, and an optional air suspension capable of offering up to two more inches of ground clearance. When we tested a loaded Denali model with the 6.2-liter V-8, we recorded a 6.0-second zero-to-60-mph time and noted significantly improved braking performance over the last generation model.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Yukon isn’t particularly fuel efficient, but it does slightly better in the city than the last generation model. Yukons equipped with the smaller 5.3-liter V-8 are the most efficient gasoline-powered models and earned ratings of 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. The turbo-diesel engine is predictably more efficient, earning ratings of up to 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test route, our Denali test vehicle delivered 20 mpg. For more information about the Yukon’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Available in a variety of flavors—from base SLE spec to luxurious Denali—the Yukon and long-wheelbase Yukon XL promise seating for up to eight passengers, although ordering the popular second-row captain’s chairs will lower the total seating capacity to seven. Denali models offer a unique interior design with a wood-trimmed dashboard and hand-stitched leather upholstery.
A novel power-sliding center console is available in SLT and AT4 models (it’s standard on the Denali) and allows the driver to motor the center console back and forth over a 10-inch track to make room for bulkier first-row cargo such as a purse or backpack and stash other smaller items out of sight in hidden cubbies. Cargo capacity is generous, especially in the larger XL model, which offers a whopping 145 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with all of its seats stowed. That’s more than its cross-town rival, the Ford Expedition Max (which has 122 cubic feet behind its front row of seats).
The standard-length Yukon provided enough space for six carry-on cases behind its third-row seats. With the third and second rows stowed, we fit 35.
All Yukon models come with a large infotainment display with GMC’s latest infotainment interface and we’ve found the system easy to use. SLE, SLT, and AT4 models feature a display that stands tall in the center of the dashboard, but the Denali’s is surrounded by bright chrome and is embedded in the dashboard for a more sophisticated look. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard equipment; navigation and a Bose audio system are both optional features.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
View Crash Test Results
A host of driver-assistance features are offered, but GMC only offers basic tech as standard, forcing buyers to pay extra for more advanced ones. For more information about the Yukon’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
- Available blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
GMC offers a warranty that’s competitive with other rivals in the full-size SUV class but doesn’t stand out in any meaningful way. The first maintenance visit is provided free of charge, but the Toyota Sequoia offers maintenance for a full two years or 25,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance covers one visit in the first year
2021 GMC Yukon Denali 4WD
front-engine, rear-/4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$83,795 (base price: $72,695)
pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
376 in3, 6162 cm3
420 hp @ 5600 rpm
460 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
Suspension (F/R): control arms/trailing arms
Brakes (F/R): vented disc/vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Alenza A/S 02, 275/50R-22 111H M+S TPC SPEC 3156MS
Wheelbase: 120.9 in
Length: 210.0 in
Width: 81.0 in
Height: 76.5 in
Passenger volume: 178 ft3
Cargo volume: 26 ft3
Curb weight: 6007 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
BY DREW DORIAN
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