Home » 2022 GMC Yukon Review | AT4 and Denali make the strongest case

2022 GMC Yukon Review | AT4 and Denali make the strongest case

2022 GMC Yukon Review | AT4 and Denali make the strongest case


The total redesign of GM’s full-size SUVs for the last model year transformed every brand’s version for the better, as the switch to an independent rear suspension resulted in the exact improvements we’ve been wanting in terms of ride, handling, interior space and cargo capacity. Now in their second year of this generation, the 2022 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL continue to take advantage of these fantastic changes.

Just as always, the GMC versions borrow heavily from their sister SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. The main differences lie in the exterior styling, and to a lesser extent, the interior. There’s also the matter of price, as the Yukon is positioned in a slightly more premium space than the Chevy version of this truck. Most notable in this regard is the popular, top-of-the-line Denali, which has for the first time has an interior design that’s different than other Yukons and every Tahoe. Despite this premium positioning, the Yukon is not prohibitively expensive, and it reasonably competes with other full-size SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Jeep Wagoneer. Which of the GM SUVs you choose is based almost entirely on looks and price, as the available feature set, engine lineup — we suggest the money-saving diesel — and drive options are nearly the same between them. It’s hard to go wrong, though, because just like last year, GM’s full-size SUVs are our current leaders in the clubhouse as the ones to get.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Features   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2022?

The most notable change for 2022 is a totally new infotainment system powered by Android Automotive. It brings new software and Google Maps as a native navigation system. Another tech enhancement is GMC swapping in its 12-inch digital instrument cluster (and making it standard) for the analog gauge cluster from last year. Lastly, the AT4 trim is now available with 6.2-liter V8 option.

What are the Yukon interior and in-car technology like?

The Yukon’s interior is an odd one, as there are two entirely different interior designs available depending on which trim you choose. That said, it’s easy enough to separate them, as the Denali (top right) has its own interior, while the rest of the trims (top left) share the same design that you’ll also find in the Tahoe. The Yukon’s badges, color schemes and trim materials are different, giving the cabin a more premium look, but you’re going to get a very similar experience in the Chevy full-sizers.

As for the Yukon Denali, this is where you’ll find greater differentiation. It has a different dash and center stack design that integrates the touchscreen infotainment system into the dash structure, as opposed to placing it freestanding on the dash. It features far nicer materials and trim, and it truly elevates the Yukon above an equivalent Tahoe or Suburban.

When it comes to tech, all Yukons for 2022 feature a new 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system that runs Android Automotive software as skinned by GM. This is not to be confused with Android Auto, which is a common car feature that allows the car’s tech interface to control apps on your smartphone (Apple CarPlay is its iPhone equivalent). That’s also in the Yukon, along with CarPlay. Though the name makes it confusing, Android Automotive is basically an in-car tech interface created by Google (Android) that different car companies can customize that utilizes the tech giant’s various existing features. Among those, it integrates Google’s ecosystem nicely — Google Maps works well as the navigation system. However, the voice-activated Google Assistant (the Android version of Siri) requires an odd “warm up” period when you first start the car that locks you out of using voice commands for the first 20-30 seconds. That’s inconvenient when you want to get in and get navigation rolling, but at least the Google Assistant works flawlessly once it’s finally ready. Much of the other tech in the Yukon is top notch, as the 12-inch digital cluster is nicely laid out with multiple viewing options, and the large head-up display is just as well integrated. You can get a pair of 12.6-inch screens mounted on the headrests for rear passengers to consume content on, too.

How big are the Yukon and Yukon XL?

Being full-size SUVs, the Yukon and Yukon XL are sizable, and last year’s redesign made them bigger than ever. The Yukon grew the most with an extra 6.7 inches of overall length and 4.9 inches of wheelbase. The Yukon XL (in red below) only gained 1.3 inches of extra length, but the wheelbase expanded by 4.1 inches. And while going to an independent rear suspension (IRS) didn’t add any external size, it did lower the floor and therefore vastly expand the interior.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest interior gains are enjoyed by the more substantially expanded Yukon. It picks up 3 inches of legroom in the second row, and a massive 10.1 inches in the third row thanks to the IRS and the consequent lower floor. The Yukon XL gains a little over 2 inches of legroom for each row. Importantly, the size increase is noticeable in practice. The third row in particular is pretty flat, but it’s exponentially more spacious and comfortable than before. Even tall adults can sit comfortably back there now (versus almost no one), and although the Jeep Wagoneer and Ford Expedition’s are more comfortable and spacious overall, it’s a tiny difference. Few other vehicles can top the Yukon (or Yukon XL) for third-row space. We dive deeper into the Yukon/Tahoe’s newer, larger rear passenger area here.

Cargo space expands significantly, too, compared with the smaller previous models. Behind the third-row seats, the Yukon has 25.5 cubic feet of space, an improvement of 10.2 cubic feet. That’s theoretically about a 6-cubic-foot advantage over the Expedition on paper, but in practice, we found the actual difference to be negligible. The Jeep Wagoneer, meanwhile, has appreciably more than both. Still, the Yukon is a genuinely large space for a three-row vehicle. Of course, if you plan to routinely travel with all three rows occupied by passengers, opting for the Yukon XL and its added cargo space is a good idea. Its cargo space behind the third row swells to 41.5 cubic feet (an increase of 2.2 cubic feet from before). We should also note that the switch to an independent rear suspension last year has significantly lowered the floor and therefore liftover height.

What are the Yukon’s fuel economy and performance specs?

The 2022 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL have three different engines to pick from. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission and available with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. With RWD, both Yukon body styles return 15 mpg in the city, 20 on the highway and 17 in combined driving. 4WD lowers those estimates to 14/19/16. These figures are worse than those of the more powerful Ford Expedition. 

Available in the AT4 and Denali is a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8. It makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Like the 5.3-liter engine, it comes with a 10-speed automatic and either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (4WD is standard on the AT4). City and highway fuel economy differs somewhat by drivetrain, trim and Yukon or Yukon XL, but all versions with this engine get 16 mpg combined.

A unique offering for the GM full-size SUVs is the diesel 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It’s the only engine like it in the class and it’s the one we most recommend. It obliterates the fuel economy of the gasoline engines, with 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined for the 2WD Yukon and 20/26/22 with 4WD. The Yukon XL is basically the same. You could save hundreds of dollars on fuel every year by going with the diesel, both compared to the other Yukon engines and various competitor SUVs.

Towing capacities are between 7,400 and 8,400 pounds depending on body style, engine and drivetrain. The diesel is the best choice in most configurations, strengthening its case, but only slightly. A tow package increases capacity across the board and actually results in the 5.3-liter having a slightly better tow rating, but again, the difference is small.

What’s the Yukon like to drive?

There are a wide array of Yukon and Yukon XL powertrain and chassis combinations, and we haven’t driven them all, but the versions we’ve driven have been impressive. A number of suspension offerings are available: a fixed steel spring and shock system; an air suspension; a steel spring suspension with magnetic dampers; and an air suspension with magnetic dampers. We haven’t sampled the base system, but we would nevertheless suggest a Yukon with the magnetic dampers. It provides a glassy-smooth ride, limited body roll, and it’s controlled enough to eliminate nearly all the shimmies and shudders that crop up in large, body-on-frame vehicles.

The air suspension on its own lets more of those body wiggles through, but is still pleasant. In the default Comfort mode, it rides fairly soft with moderate body roll, and the Sport mode stiffens things up noticeably, but without becoming uncomfortable. Regardless of suspension, you get the same steering, which is excellent. It’s nicely weighted and quite precise. And even with the more roly-poly base air suspension, the truck handles well with good turn-in and a stable, composed feel even over bumpy corners.

We’ve also now driven Yukons (or Tahoes) with every available engine. The 5.3-liter V8 provides perfectly adequate acceleration. The 6.2-liter livens things up a bit, though we still wouldn’t call it fast. Ultimately, we think the Duramax diesel is the best choice. It certainly won’t be fast, but its benefits are many. Its peak torque matches the 6.2-liter, but occurs at 1,500 rpm rather than 4,100. That makes it well-suited to towing and results in acceleration that feels stronger off the line. Importantly, you’ll be pumping in a lot less fuel into it than with the V8s. 

What other GMC Yukon reviews can I read?

2021 GMC Yukon Denali First Drive | Finally living up to the Denali reputation

Our first drive of the glitz and glam Denali model where we go over how the Yukon sets itself apart and analyze its unique interior.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

 

2021 Chevy Suburban Diesel First Drive | Large, in charge and diesel-powered

This review is of the Chevy Suburban, but it’s where you’ll find our detailed thoughts on the Duramax diesel engine that we like so much in GM’s full-size SUVs.

2021 Chevy Suburban

 

2021 Chevy Tahoe Rear Seat Driveway Test + Video

The switch to an independent rear suspension has profoundly increased third-row seat space for the current-generation Yukon and Tahoe. There are several other new features, which we highlight in this post (linked above) and video below.

 

 

2021 Chevy Tahoe Luggage Test | How much fits behind the third row?

The independent rear suspension makes a huge difference for cargo space, specifically behind the third row. We take a closer look and compare GM’s full-size SUVs (in this case a Tahoe rather than a Yukon) to the Ford Expedition.

 

2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

Read about the Yukon’s Chevrolet siblings, the Tahoe and Suburban. You’re going to be reading a lot of the same things as here in this Yukon review, but you’ll also be able to see the differences. 

 

2022 GMC Yukon infotainment system walkthrough

 

How much is the 2022 Yukon price and what features are available?

The base Yukon SLE starts at $53,795, including the $1,695 destination charge. There are three other trim levels to choose from, including the SLT, AT4 and Denali.

If you go base, the SLE includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, roof rails, assist steps, LED headlights and taillights, heated mirrors, a manual liftgate, proximity entry, remote start, automatic wipers, power-adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, 10.2-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-speaker audio system and a suite of driver assistance equipment.

The AT4 notably adds a bunch of off-road goodies including a unique exterior design with a better approach angle, standard four-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, tow hooks and an available air suspension that can raise the vehicle for better ground clearance. A number of tech and luxury features are also tacked on to better the interior experience.

As for the Denali, it’s the most luxurious version of the Yukon with far more interior colors and trims to choose from. It also comes with a higher level of standard equipment than any of the other trims, and allows you the ability to option even more.

A full breakdown of feature content and local pricing for the 2022 Yukon can be found here on Autoblog, and a pricing guide based on trim can be found below. The prices listed are for the cheapest version of each trim, taking into account engine options and drive types.

Yukon

SLE: $53,795
SLT: $60,595
AT4: $68,295
Denali: $70,095

Yukon XL

SLE: $56,495
SLT: $63,295
AT4: $70,995
Denali: $72,795

What are the Yukon safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The Yukon and Yukon XL’s standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, front and rear parking sensors, a rear seat reminder, trailer hitch guidance and auto high beams. Features included on higher trims or as options include blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, trailer blind-spot warning (a distinctive and helpful feature), rear pedestrian alert, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, reverse automatic braking, rear camera mirror and enhanced automatic emergency braking (capable of intervening at speeds up to 50 mph).

The GMC Yukon was given a four-star (out of five) overall crash test rating by the NHTSA, plus four stars for frontal protection, five stars for side protection and three stars for rollover. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested the current-generation Yukon or Tahoe at the time of this writing.

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