2021 GMC Yukon Denali & Yukon AT4 – Bold new styling and multiple tech

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The wait is over, meet the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. Following the debut of the new Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban last December, GMC today pulled the cover off its own upscale version of GM's three-row SUV platform. And with bold new styling, multiple best-in-class features, and a rugged AT4 trim level for the first time, the new Yukon offers more than ever.

The first thing you might notice is that new front clip. The range-topping Yukon Denali looks bold, borrowing cues from the equivalent Sierra; the C-shaped headlights, lower LED running lights, and extensive use of chrome carry over most notably. But unlike its pickup sibling, the Yukon gets a sleeker grille treatment (minus the Sierra's vertical slats), brand-new 12-spoke wheels, and some additional elements that help distinguish it from the rest of the range.

Compared to the previous model, the 2021 Yukon's wheelbase grows by 4.9 inches, and overall length expands by 6.1 inches. That yields an extra 10.1 inches of extra legroom in the rear (34.9 inches total) as well as an extra 28.2 cubic feet (122.9 cubic feet total) of maximum cargo room. And that figure gets even better with the optional XL model.

The Yukon XL extends its overall footprint by 0.9 inches and its wheelbase by 4.1 inches. That leads to an extra 2.2 inches of legroom in the third row (36.7 inches total) and a whopping 23 cubic feet of extra cargo room (144.7 cubic feet total). Both the Yukon and Yukon XL also offer a new sliding second row that improves ingress and egress by up to 5.5 inches.

And all that additional space should bode well with the brand-new cabin. GMC promises a “Denali-exclusive interior” on the range-topping model, complete with a first-in-class power sliding center console, a 15-inch head-up display, and nine available camera views via the central screen – including a 360-degree camera. Of course, the 2021 Yukon and Yukon XL will offer an entire suite of active safety features, not solely a 360 camera. Automatic emergency braking comes standard, while a rear-camera mirror and a rear pedestrian alert are both optional.

The GMC Yukon (and XL) gets three engine options at launch: an updated 6.2-liter V8, a fresh 5.3-liter V8, and a brand-new 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel, all similar to what you get on the Tahoe and Suburban. The most powerful of the bunch (obviously) is the 6.2-liter V8, which is good for 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. All three engines use to the same 10-speed automatic transmission.

Pairing to those power options is an optional “Active Response” all-wheel-drive system. Combining GMC's fourth-generation magnetic ride control, a new electronic limited-slip differential, and a multi-link independent rear suspension, the Active Response system offers ride-height adjustments of up to four inches total, with the ability to lift the suspension up to two inches for additional ground clearance.

For the first time ever, the GMC Yukon gets a rugged AT4 option. Trim-exclusive visual cues include a redesigned front fascia ripe with rugged cues like dark chrome accents and AT4-signature red recovery hooks. The Yukon AT4 also gets trim-exclusive 12-spoke wheels and 20-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires.

In terms of off-road tech, the Yukon AT4 gets the four-corner, air-ride adaptive suspension standard – which, as mentioned, offers an extra two inches of ground clearance over the base setup – a traction select setting with off-road mode, hill descent control, and skid plates. That allows for a 32-inch approach angle.

The inside of the Yukon AT4 also gets custom upgrades in the way of AT4-exclusive leather, a jet black finish with brandy-colored accents, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats – all standard.

No word on pricing, but the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL go on sale this summer.

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