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The optional AT4 package makes the new full-size Sport Utility Vehicle more off-road capable than ever before.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2021 GMC Yukon is based on the best-selling full-size platform in the world, and the optional AT4 package makes it more off-road capable than ever before.When it comes to full-size SUVs, GM rules the market. The GMC Yukon is in third place among full-size SUVs in the United States, but it shares a platform with the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade. Taken together, the GM platform is undisputed as the most popular large SUV on the market. That basic GM platform has been substantially revised for 2021, making the Yukon bigger, more luxurious, and now more off-road capable.

We reviewed the 2021 Yukon Denali a few months ago, so we'll focus on the new AT4 off-road trim this time. The big difference between AT4 and other Yukon trims is in the suspension and driveline. With the AT4, you are buying a more raised and heavy-duty suspension, but the AT4 will still ride better than older Yukons because GMC gave every new Yukon an independent rear suspension like a crossover, and the difference is dramatic. The ride is smoother, the handling is better, and it's quieter in the cabin.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Inside, the AT4 package includes a full color head-up display, a dual-pane sunroof, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen display with navigation.

The AT4 trim includes standard magnetic ride control, and there's an optional air ride suspension that can raise and lower the vehicle on command. The AT4 package also includes an electronic locking rear differential.

The driveline differences mainly include an Automatic mode to the four-wheel-drive system. In this mode, the Yukon functions primarily as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, but it keeps the front wheels engaged a little bit, so as soon as the vehicle detects wheel slip or the need for more traction, the front wheels are completely engaged. You can leave the Yukon AT4 in Automatic mode all the time, unlike traditional 4X4 systems. Plus, for those times you need full dual-range four-wheel-drive, that's still available at the push of a button.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The AT4 package in the 2021 GMC Yukon includes heated and ventilated leather seats in front, a heated steering wheel, and optional heated seats in the second row.

Finally, the AT4 package includes skid plates and recovery hooks as well as special wheels and exterior trim. So it looks a little more rugged than the run of the factory. Inside, the AT4 trim is not quite as luxurious as the top Denali outfitting, but it's certainly well-appointed. You'll get heated and ventilated leather seats in front, a heated steering wheel, and heated seats in the second row are optional. The AT4 package also buys you a full color head-up display, dual-pane sunroof, power retracting running boards, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen display with navigation, and dual rear-seat entertainment with 12.6-inch screens for the second row.

People who buy full-size SUVs often use them for towing. The new Yukon AT4 comes with GMC's ProGrade trailering system. This tech supports trailer-side blind spot monitoring, a trailer brake controller, hitch guidance, in-trailer cameras and a camera mounted on the rear of the trailer for unobstructed rear vision. The AT4 package also comes with an enhanced cooling radiator for trouble-free towing. Depending on your choice of engine and driveline, the Yukon AT4 can tow up to 8,400 pounds, and the minimum towing capacity is 7,800 pounds. For cargo hauling, the Yukon provides 122.9 cubic feet of cargo with all the rear seats folded down.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Cargo space in the 2021 GMC Yukon is enormous with the second and third row of seats folded down.

The AT4 package is available with any engine in the GMC full-size lineup. The standard 5.3-liter V8 offers 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, and that's what was in the test vehicle. That's plenty of power with the 10-speed automatic transmission. Upgrade options include a 6.2-liter V8 rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque and the capable and fuel-efficient Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel engine.

The 2021 Yukon AT4 represents a new era for one of America's most popular SUVs. If you've been planning for a new full-size three-row vehicle for towing, hauling, or family use, the GMC Yukon is a great choice, and the AT4 package means you can go just about anywhere you want.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - With the AT4 package, the 2021 GMC Yukon is not raised and includes a heavy-duty suspension, but rides better than older versions because it has an independent rear suspension like a crossover.

2021 GMC Yukon AT4

Base price: $64,800

Price as tested: $74,960

Type: Full-size SUV

Engine: 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 16/20

Overall length: 210 inches

Curb weight: 5,677 pounds

Final assembly: Arlington, Texas

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