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Whether you are headed to the high desert or the coast, pulling a trailer or just enjoying the drive, the Yukon has got you covered.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali is available with your choice of three engines and two four-wheel-drive systems for the ultimate in go-anyywhere, tow-anything driving.The GMC Yukon is the third best-selling full-size SUV in America, but when you combine sales with the closely related Chevrolet Tahoe, the GM platform is by far the most popular large SUV on the market. Only the Ford Expedition (currently in second place) offers serious competition to the GM models.

A big part of the reason for that dominance is that GMC has been developing the Yukon for decades, and this SUV comes with the kind of luxury and capability that buyers demand today. In addition to the basic Yukon, GMC offers the top-tier luxury Denali sub-brand. Denali is more than a trim level, offering technology and comfort not found anywhere else. Further, in the last couple of years GMC added the AT4 off-road equipment package, which optimizes the Yukon for more aggressive use. Full disclosure: I drove a GMC Sierra AT4 pickup truck up to the frozen Arctic Ocean and back last winter, and the package does work as advertised.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - In addition to the basic Yukon, GMC offers the top-tier luxury Denali sub-brand with technology and comfort not found anywhere else.

People buy full-size SUVs for passenger carrying and towing. The new Yukon improves both functions, adding 10.1 inches of third-row leg room, and boosting rear cargo space by 66% over the outgoing model. In all, you can get 122.9 cubic feet of cargo into a 2021 Yukon with all the rear seats folded down. The second row includes optional sliding captain's chair seats, which also helps the third-row passengers get comfortable. To get that space, GMC added 5 inches to the Yukon's wheelbase and 6 inches to the overall length.

The new Yukon also excels in technology. The SUV has an available camera package with nine different views including high definition surround vision, rear camera mirror and GMC's ProGrade trailering system that supports in-trailer cameras and a camera mounted on the rear of the trailer for unobstructed rear vision. You can also order a 15-inch-diagonal multicolor head-up display, which projects speed, navigation, safety features and other driver-centric information onto the windshield.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The additional Denali comfort and luxury features pamper the driver and passengers alike.

When it comes to towing and hauling, the Yukon has a good answer. Yukon drivers have their choice among three engine options starting with the standard 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Upgrade options include a 6.2-liter V8 rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Both the 5.3 and 6.2 engines feature automatic stop/start and cylinder deactivation technology that enables the engine to operate on two to eight cylinders, depending on demand, to optimize power and efficiency. GMC customers can also select the 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel engine.

All three available engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and GMC's Electronic Precision Shift push-button gear selector. Four-wheel-drive is available throughout the lineup, with automatic 4WD mode available. That feature is worth a little explanation: if you have the Autotrac 2-speed transfer case, you can drive the Yukon in rear-wheel-drive mode to save fuel, or put the system in Auto mode to instantly engage 4WD when needed. If you have the Autotrac single-speed transfer case, Auto 4WD is always engaged, but you can lock in 4WD if needed. We used Auto 4WD all the way up to the Arctic in winter, and it works like magic.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Captains Chairs make getting in and out of the third row easy, even for adults.

With the new drivelines, the basic Yukon can tow 7500-7900 pounds, or up to 8400 pounds with the upgrade engines. Cargo payload ranges from 1616 to 1792 pounds. GMC offers a full towing setup.

One last thing to mention is the available air ride adaptive suspension. This tech offers ride-height adjustments of up to 4 inches, as well as an automatic self-leveling feature. The self-leveling feature helps with comfort and control, particularly when the vehicle is loaded with cargo and when trailering. Drivers can raise the body up to 2 inches for additional ground clearance when driving off-road, or drop the Yukon 2 inches for easier entry and exit when parked. On the freeway, the Yukon will automatically drop by 3/4-inch for stability and increased fuel economy.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - GMC increased the seating and cargo space in the 2021 Yukon by adding 5 inches to the wheelbase and 6 inches to the overall length.

We spent a full day driving the new Yukon Denali, and it's impressive. You'll definitely notice that the 2021 model is larger than the older Yukon, but from the moment you approach the new Yukon, you'll know that this is a new and very much improved edition. On the road, the Yukon is quiet, stable, and powerful. Whether you're headed to the high desert or the coast, pulling a trailer or just enjoying the drive, the Yukon's got you covered.

The 2021 Yukon is available in GMC dealer showrooms now.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The available air ride adaptive suspension offers ride-height adjustments of up to 4 inches, as well as an automatic self-leveling feature.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Base price: $71,400

Price as tested: $84,320

Type: Full-size SUV

Engine: 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 14/19

Overall length: 210 inches

Curb weight: 5,827 pounds

Final assembly: Arlington, Texas


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