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2012 GMC Yukon (XL, Denali) Review

Room for up to nine passengers and the capability – and space – to haul their cargo, be it overnight bags or a camper trailer. That’s the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL family of full-size SUVs for 2012.
2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo -2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo -
Yukon and the long-wheelbase Yukon XL are available in SLE (cloth trim) and SLT trim (leather appointments), as well as the premium Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali models. All Yukon and Yukon Denali models are offered in 2WD and 4WD configurations. Yukon XL is also offered in a heavy-duty 2500-series model. A third-row seat is standard on all Yukon models.
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Yukon models feature a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase and overall length of 202 inches (5,130 mm), which enables up to 108.9 cubic feet (3,084 L) of storage space (with the second-row seat folded and third-row seat removed). Yukon XL models have exterior dimensions similar to the regular models, but are about 14 inches longer in wheelbase and 20 inches lonfwe in overall length, offering 137.4 cubic feet (3,894 L) of maximum cargo space.
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
When it comes to towing capability, Yukon XL 2500 leads with a maximum towing rating of 9,600 pounds (4,354 kg). Yukon can tow a maximum of 8,500 pounds (3,855 kg) and Yukon XL 1500 is rated at 8,100 pounds (3,674 kg).
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Yukon and Yukon XL models feature a 5.3L V-8 with GM’s fuel-saving Active Fuel Management technology, while Denali models feature a 6.2L V-8 and Yukon XL 2500 is powered by a 6.0L V-8. All engines in the Yukon range are capable of running on E85 ethanol and feature efficiency-enhancing features including variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management (6.0L does not feature Active Fuel Management).
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Changes and new features for 2012 are minimal and include a new navigation radio with a USB port, hard drive, Time Shift Recording capability and more. StabiliTrak now incorporates trailer sway control and hill start assist and Side Blind Zone Alert is now standard on Denali models. Additional content changes include standard heated and leather-trimmed seats on SLT models, the addition of a third-row DVD screen on Yukon XL models with the available rear-seat entertainment system and the SLE Exterior Appearance Package is now standard on 1500 models.
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Two new exterior colors are offered, as well: Crystal Red Tintcoat and Quicksilver Metallic.
Yukon Denali models
GMC’s unique Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali models are instantly identifiable by their signature chrome honeycomb grille and monochromatic exterior appointments. They also have unseen exclusive features, including an acoustical insulation package that helps make them quieter.
Standard content include exclusive 20-inch wheels, power liftgate, power release second-row fold-and-tumble bucket seats, head curtain side air bags, power-adjustable pedals, electrochromic (auto-dimming) inside mirror, remote start system, rearview camera system and ultrasonic rear parking assist.
The interiors include standard Nuance leather-covered seating with heated and cooled first-row seats and heated second-row captain’s seats, as well as leather trim throughout. A power and heated steering wheel with easy entry/exit is standard on all Denali models. Optional features include a power sunroof, power-retractable assist steps and a rear-seat, DVD-based entertainment system and a third-row DVD entertainment system (Yukon Denali XL).
All Denali models are powered by a 6.2L V-8 with variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management technology that is rated at 403 horsepower (301 kW).
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Yukon design and exterior features
Chrome grille surround is standard on all models.
Power-retractable assist steps available on SLT and Denali models.
Standard heated, power-operated outside mirrors on all models, with Denali including auto-dimming, integrated signal indicators, ground lights and curb-tilt feature (available on SLT).
Recovery hooks (frame-mounted) are standard on all models.
A power-operated liftgate is available on SLT and standard on Denali models.
Standard 17-inch wheels on SLE and SLT models. Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels and tires are standard on SLE and SLT, with specific 17-inch aluminum eight-lug wheel standard on Yukon XL 2500.
Twenty-inch polished aluminum or 20-inch chrome-clad wheels are available on SLE and SLT.
Exclusive 20-inch chrome aluminum wheels are standard on Denali models.
Dealer-installed accessory wheels include 20- and 22-inch designs.
SLT chrome package (optional) includes chrome door handles, chrome mirror caps, polished exhaust tip, chrome recovery hooks, chrome grille, heated/power-adjustable and auto-dimming outside mirrors and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. (Not available on Yukon XL 2500.)
Exterior color choices include: Onyx Black, Gold Mist Metallic, Carbon Black Metallic, Summit White, White Diamond Tricoat, Mocha Steel Metallic, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Quicksilver Metallic and Steel Gray Metallic.
2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo
Yukon interior standard and available features
Yukon and Yukon XL interiors are versatile. The third-row seats fold flat and are easily tumbled forward or removed for maximum cargo area. Also, the center console storage compartment, at 20.1 liters of capacity, is the segment’s largest. The glove box offers significant storage space, too, and features damped opening operation that bolsters quietness and refinement.
The Yukon and Yukon XL also offer an industry-exclusive power fold-and-tumble second-row seat feature that eases access to the third-row seat. They feature release buttons on the interior C-pillar to provide an easy, immediate release of the seat and an access path to the third-row seat or cargo area.
Standard and available interior content includes:
Almost no exposed metal hardware or latches, as all models feature enclosing “close-outs” around the seat bottoms and door sill trim plates.
Three rows of seating are standard on all models. The second row is available as a three-passenger bench with a 60/40 split or two bucket seats. The third row features a 50/50-split design and is removable. The power-assisted second row seat release feature is standard on Denali and available on SLT models.
Cloth-trimmed seats are standard on SLE. Front bucket seats are standard on SLE and a 40/20/40-split bench is available.
Leather-trimmed front bucket seats with six-way seat adjusters are standard on SLT.
Leather-trimmed heated and cooled front bucket seats with 10-way seat adjusters are standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Heated second-row seat is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Power flip and fold second-row seat release feature is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Tri-zone automatic climate control is standard on all models, with rear auxiliary air conditioning standard on all XL models.
Rear-seat entertainment system available on all models, including DVD player with remote control, overhead display, two sets of wireless infrared headphones, auxiliary audio/video jacks, remote game plug-in and mute button in overhead console.
SiriusXM Satellite Radio standard on all models.
Audio system with AM/FM/CD and USB port standard on SLE and SLT.
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound 10-speaker system standard on Denali; Bose nine-speaker sound SLE and SLT.
Navigation radio with touch-screen operation is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard on all models.
Power-adjustable pedals are standard on Denali and SLT and available on SLE.
Remote vehicle starter system standard on Denali and SLT and available on SLE.
Convenience Package (PDD) is available on SLE and includes power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle starter system, rear parking assist, rearview camera and inside mirror with camera display.
SLT-2 Equipment Package is available on SLT and includes leather-appointed front bucket seats, heated second-row seats, power liftgate and outside heated power-adjustable/folding mirrors.
Sun, Entertainment and Destinations Package (PCJ) is available on SLT and Denali and includes an additional 9 months of SiriusXM radio and XM NavTraffic service, power sunroof, audio system with navigation, AM/FM/XM radio with CD player, rear vision camera and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Yukon powertrain
Yukon and Yukon XL 1500 models are powered by a Vortec 5.3L V-8 that balances power and efficiency. Variable valve timing helps the 5.3L optimize performance, efficiency and emissions, while GM’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivating technology helps improve fuel economy in certain light-load driving conditions. It is also E85-capable and matched with GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission.
Yukon Denali models are equipped with a larger-displacement, 6.2L V-8 that is rated at 403 horsepower (301 kW) and 417 lb.-ft. of torque (565 Nm). Like the 5.3L engine, it features variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management technology.
Yukon XL 2500 features the Vortec 6.0L V-8, rated at 352 horsepower (262 kW) and 382 lb.-ft. of torque (518 Nm), with variable valve timing. It is paired with the heavy-duty Hydra-matic 6L90 six-speed automatic.
Vortec 5.3L with an iron cylinder block is used on Yukon/Yukon XL 1500 2WD models (engine code LMG) and rated at 320 horsepower (239 kW) and 335 lb.-ft. of torque (454 Nm).
Vortec 5.3L with an aluminum cylinder block is used on Yukon/Yukon XL 1500 models (engine code LC9) and rated at 320 horsepower (239 kW) and 335 lb.-ft. of torque (454 Nm).
The variable valve timing system allows linear delivery of torque, with near-peak levels over a broad rpm range, and high specific output (horsepower per liter of displacement). It also helps reducet exhaust emissions. Because it manages valve overlap at optimum levels, it eliminates the need for an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system.
GM's Active Fuel Management technology increases fuel economy approximately 6 percent under the federal government's required testing procedure and potentially more in certain real-world driving conditions. AFM temporarily deactivates four of the engine’s cylinders under light load conditions and seamlessly reactivates them when full power is required. The transition takes less than 20 milliseconds and is virtually indiscernible.
A heavy-duty timing chain delivers quiet operation and long life. It is validated for 200,000 miles (320,000 km) of operation.
E85 is a clean-burning, domestically produced alternative fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol alcohol and 15 percent gasoline. Ethanol is renewable and produces fewer greenhouse gases during the combustion process.
2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon Denali photo
Yukon chassis and suspension
All Yukon and Yukon XL 1500 models are built on GM’s full-size SUV platform, incorporating a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension with multi-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Yukon XL 2500 features an independent front suspension with torsion bars and leaf-spring rear suspension.
Wide front and rear tracks – 68.2 inches (1,732 mm) front/67 inches (1,702 mm) rear – enhance handling and vehicle stability for a more confident road feel.
A stiff frame reduces vibrations transmitted to the passenger cabin, while the strength and accuracy of the fully boxed frame also enable precise mounting and tuning of chassis and suspension components.
The Autoride suspension system is standard on Denali and available SLT (except Yukon XL 2500) and features a segment-exclusive bi-state, real-time damping system that provides a refined ride with greatly reduced body motion. The system consists of a semi-active, two-position damping control system that responds in real time to road and driving conditions, based on body and wheel motion sensors.
A single-speed transfer case is standard on SLE and SLT 4WD models.
Autotrac two-speed transfer case is available on SLE and SLT 4WD models.
Electronically controlled automatic all-wheel-drive system is standard on Denali models.
A trailering package with a 3.42 axle ratio, integrated trailer brake control, external transmission cooler and engine oil cooler is available on SLE and SLT (except Yukon XL 2500).
The standard axle ratio on all Yukon and Yukon XL 1500 models is 3.08. The Yukon XL 2500 axle ratio is 3.73.
A locking rear differential is standard.
Z71 off-road suspension is available on SLE and SLT. Content includes skid plate package, 17-inch aluminum wheels with on/off-road tires, Autotrac two-speed transfer case, heavy-duty trailering package and a high-capacity air cleaner.
Yukon safety and crash avoidance features
Standard head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for both seating rows. The roof-mounted head curtain air bags include design features that provide increased rollover protection and occupant containment. These head curtain side air bags stay inflated longer than air bags developed only for side impacts, since rollover incidents can last longer. The deployment duration and other design features of the air bags combine to provide increased occupant protection and the ability to help keep occupants inside the vehicle.
2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali photo
Standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags for driver and right-front passenger provide thorax and pelvic protection.
StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both.
Available Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist that can detect certain stationary objects in the rearward path of the vehicle and send an audible warning sound.
Rearview camera system is standard on Denali and SLT models and available on SLE. It is designed to provide the driver with a view of people or objects in the rearward path of the vehicle.
Side blind zone alert is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
Standard four-wheel-disc brake system with ABS featuring smooth, quiet operation, longer pad life and more resistance to brake pulsation.
Pretensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions.
Tire pressure monitoring system, standard on all models.
Standard remote keyless entry (RKE) system provides a second function for the red panic button. Drivers can it to locate their cars without sounding the panic alarm.
Strong body structure to absorb crash energy and provide a protective “safety cage” around occupants.


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