General Motors unveiled the 2021 Yukon SUV in the snow in Vail, Colo., Tuesday, showing off a variety of technologies and improvements designed to set the vehicle apart from its less expensive 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe sibling.
The Yukon is an important vehicle for GMC. The brand sold about 75,000 Yukons last year, 13 percent of GMC’s sales. But they are among the most profitable vehicles for its GM corporate parent. About 60 percent were sold under the upscale Denali sub-brand, which generates high profit margins from luxury vehicle transaction prices.
General Motors has positioned the GMC brand as a seller of upscale trucks and SUVs to separate it from Chevrolet and rivals such as Ford and Ram.
The strategy is to market the vehicles as trucks that people feel comfortable driving and being seen in whether it’s a trip to a Michelin starred restaurant or across a farm, Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick and GMC, told Trucks.com.
This is the fifth generation Yukon and it follows the new body-on-frame truck design in related vehicles in the GM stable, including Chevrolet’s Silverado half-ton pickup, the Tahoe and GMC’s Sierra pickup.
The new Yukon has a 4.9 inch longer wheelbase than the previous model, made possible by the new chassis. It has 41 percent more third-row legroom and 66 percent greater cargo volume behind the third row compared with the current model. The wheelbase of the larger Yukon XL variant grew by 4.1 inches. GMC said it has made it easier to get in and out of the third row by installing new sliding second-row seats.
Both new models will go on sale later this year. GMC has not yet released pricing or fuel economy for the 2021 Yukon.
MORE ENGINE CHOICES
Buyers will get to pick from multiple engine options. There is a new version of GM’s 6.2-liter V8 engine, delivering 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The standard engine is a new to the Yukon lineup 5.3-liter V8. It produces up to 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.
Both of those engine choices have fuel-saving stop/start technology. They also have a new dynamic fuel management feature that enables the engine to operate on two to eight cylinders, depending on demand.
The third engine choice is a new 3-liter inline-six turbo-diesel engine. GMC pairs all three engines with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
- New safety technology – automatic emergency braking is standard.
- A new interior design, highlighted by a Denali exclusive interior and a new, class-leading available Power Sliding Center Console. Trucks.com, other auto reviewers and consumers have criticized GMC for not spending enough on its interiors compared to rivals such as Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Ram brand. “This is a unique Denali interior. It is not shared with any of the other GMC vehicles. It is different materials, hand-crafted stitching and extra technology,” Aldred said.
- The Yukon has an optional four-corner air ride adaptive suspension that improves ride comfort on rough terrain and deep snow. When the four-wheel-drive system is engaged in low, the suspension allows drivers to raise the body up to 2 inches for additional ground clearance when traveling off-road. “It gives a cloud-like beautifully smooth ride,” Aldred said.
- Another optional feature is a nine view camera system, the most expansive in the segment.
- Other technology includes a rear camera mirror and GMC’s ProGrade trailering system. “It is that type of technology that makes a big vehicle like a Yukon drive smaller,” Aldred said.
- The 2021 Yukon will come with an optional 15-inch-diagonal multicolor head-up display. It projects speed, navigation, safety features and other information.
- Another optional feature is a new active response four-wheel-drive system that combines technologies including an electronic limited slip differential that controls torque. The system continuously monitors road conditions and reacts to improve traction and handling.