The 2018 model in SLE and SLT trim is powered by a 5.3 liter V8 (355 horsepower, 383 lb. ft.) and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Denali trim steps it up with a 6.2 liter V8 (420 horsepower, 460 lb. ft.) mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. For all three trims, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations are available. The Denali trim has a powerful engine that can accelerate the massive SUV to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. On the road, the bigger V8 hauls the vehicle effortlessly. The 10-speed automatic transmission is new for 2018, and it is as refined as the outgoing part. Gear shifts were without a hitch, although it’s not instantaneous. With its height and weight, the Yukon is not the lightest on its feet nor is it the easiest to navigate around busier streets. Cornering lags behind the input from the steering wheel, as if it was not engaged. But when driving at a spirited pace, the handling firmed up to lessen body roll through the more challenging turns. The brakes are up to the task of stopping from 70 mph in 185 feet. This is about average among its competition, but actually performs better than some pricier SUVs. The pedal action requires considerable effort, but the bite from the calipers is predictable.
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The base SLE trim comes with heated mirrors, foglights, automatic wipers, cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver seat, teen-driver monitoring, 4G LTE, WiFi hotspot, power outlet, USB ports, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen and nine-speaker Bose sound system. The Convenience package includes a power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power liftgate, and a garage door universal remote. The SLT trim builds off of the SLE trim and adds power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming side mirrors, power-adjustable heated steering wheel, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, power-folding back seats, driver-seat memory settings and a wireless charging pad. The Denali trim is the crème-de-la-crème of the range and adds xenon headlights, heads-up display, active noise cancellation, navigation, power running boards, and a 10-speaker sound system. Optional for the Denali trim, as well as the SLT trim, is a rear-seat entertainment system.
The 2018 model has been tested by the NHTSA and garners 5 stars for the Frontal Crash test, 5 stars for the Side Crash test, and 3 stars for the Rollover test. Overall, it achieves a 4-star safety rating. Standard safety equipment include a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. Advanced safety and driver assist technologies are optional for the base trim and these include forward collision warning, automatic braking at low speeds, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning and intervention. Additional features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control are standard for the higher end trims.
The 2018 model has a 74.4 inch height, 80.5 inch width, 203.9 inch length and a 116 inch wheelbase. There is an XL variant for all trims which has a 224.4 inch length and a 130 inch wheelbase. For the Denali trim, it sports a new chrome front grille but apart from that it remains visually identical to last year’s model. It also comes standard with 20-inch wheels while the SLE and SLT only have 18-inch wheels. Fortunately all trims have the option for bigger 22-inch wheels. The Yukon has a massive footprint on the street and certainly has a commanding presence. Its stocky appearance is bolstered by its square silhouette, but the simplistic lines and restrained use of chrome denote of an understated elegance. The Yukon definitely is for those who also want premium looks to go with the immense hauling capabilities.
The doors open wide for trouble-free entrance into a cabin with generous space. Legroom and headroom did not feel claustrophobic for the first and second row of seats. The third row of seats however, has its legroom compromised and leg movement is very limited. The XL variant is going to be much roomier and would be ideal if the third row is used often for passengers. Up to nine people can fit inside the cabin, if configured for all three rows to accommodate three people. Comfort from the leather seats was consistent even if the drive got longer. The quality of the leather though, is not the best and does not seem to justify the asking price. The ride quality is kept smooth as the suspension is not disturbed by the bumps and divots on the pavement. On smoother surfaces, the plush ride is just luxurious. The magnetic suspension dampers in the Denali trim is tuned for a firmer response, which lends itself well in sportier driving at the cost of a harsher ride.
Behind the third row is 15.3 cu. ft. of space, and folding the seats down yields 51.7 cu. ft. of space. With both the second and third row seats folded down, there is 94.7 cu. ft. of space.