2022 GMC Yukon
The 2022 GMC Yukon is an updated version of one of GM’s full size SUVs, and it’s very good.
For the record, all of GM’s updated full size SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV, are very good, and all have been selling strongly since they launched in 2020.
In addition to the usual changes you’d expect when a vehicle is updated—refreshed styling, nicer interiors, and more efficient powertrains—the big news with this generation of GM’s full size SUVs is that the “smaller” versions are now larger. One persistent complaint about the Tahoe, Yukon, and Escalade was that, for full size vehicles, they didn’t provide all that much second- or third-row seating space.
That’s been remedied with the addition of 5-inches to the wheelbase, which has resulted in much more rear passenger space. In fact, things are so much better in that regard that I would imagine that many buyers who would have ordinarily purchased longer wheelbase models like the Suburban will get the shorter versions instead and be pleased.
Another major enhancement for the big GM SUVs is a new independent rear suspension. Not only does that improve ride quality, but it allows for a lower floor, which further expands storage space.
And it improves the third-row seats as well. In previous generations of the Yukon, the third-row seats were just ok. Now the “way back” in the standard wheelbase Yukon is a comfortable place to be, even for 6’2” me. Instead of feeling like my knees were right in front of my face, in the new third-row seat I felt pretty much like I was sitting in the previous generation Yukon’s second-row seat, which is a significant upgrade from before.
The exterior design of the new Yukon is evolutionary not revolutionary, so you’ll be forgiven for not noticing the new versions as they drive by. Given the Yukon’s popularity, it’s not surprising that GM took the, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to the styling.
Nevertheless, there are changes. The grille is bigger than it was, and the headlight housings are more stylized. And the rear lights are similarly sculpted, switching from rectangular shapes to something kind of oblong and more dramatic. Also, there’s a Range Rover-ish tapering of the rear end of the SUV that wasn’t there before. Maybe it’s “slimming”?
Driving the new Yukon is similar to driving previous versions, but better. The ride and handling--if that’s the right noun when we’re talking about a 6000lbs SUV--are obviously improved thanks almost entirely to the independent rear suspension. And the Yukon’s best-in-class highway manners, which enable the gobbling up of interstate miles, remain unchallenged.
So, the Yukon is noticeably better than it was on school runs, and incrementally improved on the open road.
Two V8 engines are offered: a 355HP 5.3L and a 420HP 6.2L. For Diesel enthusiasts like me, GMC also offers a 3.0L Turbo-Diesel inline-six that pumps out 460 lbs-ft of torque. All models come with a 10-speed automatic transmission operated by a push-button panel on the dashboard, and all can be had with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy is a bummer, as you’d expect. The 5.3L V8 gets you 16 MPG City/20 MPG Highway, the 6.2L V8 drops that to 14/19, and the Diesel makes everyone feel less guilty at 21/27.
For the record, the 5.3L V8 isn’t as comfortable lugging the big Yukon around as the 6.2L. One of my business partners has owned Yukons with both engines, and he told me, “I’d never get the 5.3 again”. As noted above, I’d choose the Diesel.
All Yukon models come with a large infotainment display with GMC's latest user interface, which is nice to look at and easy to use. The base SLE, mid-range SLT, and off-road AT4 models all feature a display that sits in the center of the dashboard and looks good, but the Denali's is embedded in the dashboard and surrounded by chrome for a more upscale look.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration and a WiFi hotspot are all standard; navigation and Bose audio are optional.
I don’t have space to go into all of the options and packages, but the Yukon starts at just over $52,000 and goes up from there. The top shelf Denali costs about $17,000 more and is popular with BCMS members for a reason. It’s a very nice truck.
GM has done an excellent job updating their full-size SUVs, and the 2022 GMC Yukon is proof. If you need the space and can afford the fuel, you’ll love it.
Note for readers: A trauma surgeon friend and I have launched an automotive podcast that may interest you. It’s called, “Cars on Call”, and it features discussions about a myriad of automotive subjects from two physicians’ perspective. It’s available on Apple, Spotify, and other platforms, and I hope you give it a listen.