The vehicle formerly known as the GMC Suburban has a new design and a new name, Yukon XL (for extra length). Changing the name to Yukon XL allows GMC to position it as a larger companion to the Yukon, a full-size SUV. The Yukon XL is the same vehicle as the Chevrolet Suburban, which also is new this year, except for GMC styling touches at the front and rear and interior trim differences. GMC offers a similar lineup of two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive models, using the same engines and most other components as Chevrolet.
While space for passengers is generous, this generosity has hurt the cargo volume, which loses about 11 cubic feet of cargo volume, dropping to 138.4. For those keeping score, that's eight cubic feet less than the Ford Excursion.
Like the Excursion, the Yukon XL can hold a 4-by-8 plywood sheet. Seating for nine is the maximum, same as before, but optional seating arrangements include two buckets for the front and the middle row (a new feature). The middle and rear bench seats fold for additional cargo room and are removable, with integrated wheels on the rear seat saving some backstrain. The spare tire has been moved from the cargo area to underneath the vehicle, which helps free up interior room.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are a new standard feature. General Motors' OnStar satellite navigation and communication system is also available.
At 219.3 inches, the Yukon XL is almost an inch shorter than the 1999 Chevrolet Suburban, but height and width have increased about two inches. Access to the cargo area is through either an aluminum liftgate or swing-out cargo doors, a no-cost option the Suburban has offered for years.
Under the Hood
Two new V-8 engines power the Yukon XL. A 285-horsepower, 5.3-liter is the base engine and a 300-horsepower, 6.0-liter is used in heavy-duty models. Both are gasoline engines; a diesel V-8 is expected for 2001. The 4WD models come with Autotrac, which engages automatically when more traction is needed. With the 6.0-liter engine, the Yukon XL tows trailers up to 10,500 pounds.
Both the Yukon XL and its Chevrolet twin, the Suburban, are expected to be in showrooms by early December.