When Chevrolet revealed the 2021 Suburban and Tahoe at Little Caesars arena in December, it gave us a glimpse into some of the updated design, technology, and hardware that are supposed to help catapult GM’s large utilities into the 2020s. A noticeable absence was its GMC badged twin the Yukon, but after a brief wait, GMC has pulled back the covers at an event in Colorado and the end result is just as bold and stylish as its Chevy counterpart.
Unlike the Suburban and the Tahoe which are forced to work with some of the core styling DNA they inherited from the Chevrolet Silverado, the Yukon family gets its styling chops from the GMC Sierra, and the end result is a canvas that is much more balanced and elegant than its bowtie wearing counterpart. The front fascia is a bold example of this renewed elegance, with the headlights featuring C-shaped elements, lower LED daytime running lights, and a sleeker front grille treatment that does not use the vertical slats that are seen on the truck. Other touches include all new 12-spoke chrome wheels, and other styling elements to help it stand out from many of its rivals. The rear fascia is where the family resemblance is more apparent, but that is a minor quibble considering that overall the styling is a big improvement over the outgoing Yukon.
Meanwhile, the interior of the Yukon benefits from many of the enhancements that made their appearance in the Suburban, but here, the refinement factor is ramped up a notch, and it shows in the richer materials used in the cabin including buttery soft leather accents, wood trim in higher models, as well as several exclusives not found in the Chevy twins. This is really apparent in the range topping Denali trim, with GMC reps promising that the model will offer a “Denali-exclusive interior” with features such as a 15 inch head-up display, nine different camera views that can be accessed via the center screen, as well as a class exclusive power sliding center console (we are not kidding on that last one.)
The rest of the range will also bring many familiar technologies to the GMC ranks, including the big rear entertainment screens that can actually send map data wirelessly to the center screen so the driver and front passenger can have it quickly in sight (another class first.) The second row benefits from improved seats that remove a lot of the grunt work that defined the old thrones, and also allow occupants to have 5.5 inches of extra room to work with when exiting and entering the Yukon. The increased dimensions also bring improved legroom and cargo space with the figures being identical to their Chevrolet kin.
Performance for the Yukon family is mirrored with the Suburban and the Tahoe which means the updated 6.2 liter V8 and the lightly tweaked 5.3 liter V8 both resume their duty in the 2021 model. With 420 and 355 horsepower respectively, both engines offer stout performance, and the 5.3 liter in particular should continue to play its part as the volume engine in the lineup. The 3.0 liter Duramax diesel inline six also makes its appearance in the Yukon, and brings 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque to buyers looking to have more low end muscle when towing heavy trailers. A 10-speed automatic is mated to all three engines, and buyers can be chose from either rear or all-wheel drive.
Along with the trio of engines, the Yukon is also the latest recipient of the AT4 treatment, with the 2021 Yukon being the first to be offered with this off-road focused trim. Joining the Sierra, Canyon, and the Acadia, this model brings several off-road focused features to the Yukon including a revised front fascia with dark chrome accents, AT4 exclusive bright red recovery hooks, and AT4 badging. The At4 also gets trim exclusive 12-spoke wheels and 20-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires. But thankfully, there is some significant hardware to back up the checks written by the exterior styling. This includes a four corner adaptive air suspension which brings two extra inches of ground clearance, hill descent control, a traction select system with off-road mode, and skid plates. All of these changes allow for a 32 degree approach angle which is pretty good for a large SUV.
The interior too also gets a large dose of luxury with trim exclusive jet black leather seats with brandy-colored accents, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, and even heated second row seats all standard. We suspect that the AT4 will follow the Tahoe’s lead, and be available only on the standard Yukon versus its longer XL counterpart.
Pricing information has not been released, but GMC did confirm that the 2021 GMC Yukon will go on sale this summer, with pricing and other details being released closer to its official launch.