When the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe were first unveiled back in December, we wondered how long it would be before its GMC twins the GMC Yukon and the Yukon XL would make their appearance. Following a wave of speculation as well as lingering sightings of testers all over Metro Detroit, GMC took the veil off the 2021 GMC Yukon which brings more refinement, technology, and flair to buyers.
Unlike the Suburban and Tahoe which featured elements of the controversial design language seen in the Silverado, the Yukon’s Sierra based design allows it to borrow cues from that model, and the end result is a cleaner and more handsome looking brute. A notable change is the new front clip which features C-shaped headlights, lower LED running lights, and liberal splashes of chrome trim scattered throughout especially on the range topping Denali model. That said, the Yukon also diverges from the Sierra slightly with the grille featuring a more elegant presentation (minus the Sierra’s vertical slats,) all new 12 spoke wheels, and other exclusive design touches to help it stand out better from the rest of GM’s SUV range. This styling is a noticeable improvement over the current Yukon, and that should please buyers that were craving a healthier infusion of style and precision into the overall design.
When compared with its outgoing relative, the wheelbase grows by 4.9 inches, and overall length extends by 6.1 inches. These figures translate into 10.1 inches of extra legroom for rear seat occupants, as well as an extra 28.2 cubic feet of cargo space, with these figures getting better when one steps up to the bigger Yukon XL model. Like the Suburban, the XL extends its footprint by 0.9 inches and its wheelbase by 4.1 inches. This in turn adds 2.2 inches of leg room, and a massive 23 cubic feet of newly freed up cargo room.
A new second row seat features an improved sliding second row seat that eliminates a lot of the grunt work associated with the old seats, and also adds 5.5 inches of extra room to move in and out of the Yukon. All of that space is housed in a revamped cabin that features new materials and oodles of new technology. Presentation here is a step up from its mainstream Chevrolet counterparts, and features rich leather accents, wood trim on certain models, and several trim dependent details. This is accented the most in the range topping Denali model, with GMC promising to offer “a Denali-exclusive interior” to buyers. A few ways of doing this include offering the segment’s first ever power sliding center console (no we’re not kidding,) a 15-inch heads up display system, and nine available cameras including a novel 360 degree camera. In addition to all these views, the Yukon also brings a whole arsenal of safety features including automatic emergency braking, optional rear camera mirror, and optional rear pedestrian alert.
Like their Chevrolet cousins, the Yukon and Yukon XL will arrive at launch with three engines. An updated version of the 6.2 liter V8 and a tweaked variant of the 5.3 liter V8 will be the two gas engines offered with the duo capable of producing 420 and 355 horsepower respectively. the 3.0 liter Duramax diesel inline six also comes along for the ride, and it’s good for a robust 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. All three engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, with either rear or all-wheel drive available.
“GMC Yukon is the full-size premium SUV that’s made to be used,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC, in the Yukon announcement. “The new Yukon delivers what customers value most – premium features, purposeful technology and all-terrain capability.”
GMC did not release any pricing information for the 2021 Yukon, but the brand did reveal that it will go on sale this summer, with pricing, fuel economy, and other lingering details being addressed closer to its official launch. With the Suburban/Tahoe and the Yukon now unveiled to the world, the lone debut remaining is the range topping Cadillac Escalade which is slated to make its debut during Oscar week in February.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.