2021 GMC Yukon: A Bigger, First Class Ride in Full-Size SUV Form

2021 Gmc Yukon

The Yukon is bigger (yes—even bigger!) and better than ever. 

Back in January, before the world fell off its axis, I was invited to Vail, Colorado with GMC. They were launching the 2021 Yukon and Yukon XL with excitement and fanfare, and we made the most of the snow with the Yukon prototypes. This is the first year for the Yukon’s fifth generation; it has been fully redesigned for 2021 with a longer wheelbase for comfort and an upstyled interior with big improvements from the 2020 model that you’re going to love.

More space for the whole family… or a slew of furry friends

Look, the Yukon is already big, and the XL is even bigger. GMC says they like it that way, and Yukon buyers are definitely not asking for a smaller vehicle. Well known for a roomy ride, the 2021 Yukon grew by 6.1 inches in length compared to the 2020 model, and they reconfigured it to add 10+ inches of leg room. On top of that, GMC engineers figured out how to give the third row passengers a more natural seating position (cradled instead of straight up and down like a jump seat). This means the Yukon is comfortable for a whole SUV full of grownups now, and not just for kids.

That’s a good thing — I’ll talk about its hauling capacity in a minute, but you’ll have the vehicle capable of transporting yourself and another family out for a weekend on the lake. Not bad.

You might think Yukon customers are parents with multiple kids, but GMC reports that more than half of Yukon buyers don’t have kids at home. They just like the fact that they have truck capabilities, towing capacity, and plenty of cargo space too. The 2021 model has a whopping 66% more cargo volume behind the third row now, which gives you room for big dogs or maybe even a small pony, at that rate. Speaking of cargo, both the Yukon and Yukon XL now have a lower and flatter floor, and that makes it easier to load and retrieve anything you’re hauling, from groceries to sports equipment to home furnishings.

Related: Finally, Genesis Has an SUV and It’s a Home Run: 2021 Genesis GV80 

2021 Gmc Yukon

Need to haul something? The 2021 GMC Yukon can do that. Photo: GMC

Higher capacity towing for boats, campers, toys, and more

If you’re going to get a vehicle this big, you’re going to want to tow with it. We’re talking boats, campers, ATVs, you name it. The Yukon is really a truck at heart, but with a posh interior (especially in the top-of-the-line Denali trim). It’s the best of both worlds.

Trying to decide between a 2020 Yukon and a 2021? The 2021 with 5.3-liter engine has 1400 pounds more max towing capacity (when equipped with the max towing package) on the 2WD version than the previous model. That’s 7,900 pounds of towing opportunity. On a Yukon XL SUV equipped with the 5.3L engine, the standard towing increases 1,500 pounds up to 7,800 pounds on 2WD versions, a nearly 24% increase.

I’d highly recommend the available nine-camera-view option for even more towing confidence.  I tested this out on the GMC Sierra earlier this year, towing an RV out in Wyoming, and the number of camera angles and information is incredible. It gives you an unbeatable sense of security with a large load trailing behind you.

Related: For 2021, the Kia Sorento 3-Row SUV Gives You the Choice of Electric, Hybrid Or Turbo Driving

The power sliding console keeps your valuables out of sight

On the Denali trim as well as the AT4 and SLT, one of my favorite new features is a power sliding center console. The main storage console between the driver and passenger seats slides back up to 10 inches with a power button just above your head. Slide the console back, and you have a great place for a purse or bag, or slide it forward and put the vehicle in valet mode for a locked storage area. There’s even a hidden drawer in the console bin where you could stash a wallet, cash, or jewelry in a safe place.

If you’re someone who always ends up with tablets, phones, or other expensive entertainment options to keep your backseat passengers sated, this isn’t something you want to miss.

2021 Gmc Yukon

You won’t have to worry about your valuables being in sight with the new Yukon. Photo: GMC

High tech and sumptuously comfortable 

Slide into a Yukon Denali, and you’ll feel as though you’re sitting in a First Class airplane seat instead of a full-size SUV. The specialty fractal stitching is exquisite, and there is plenty of tech for everyone inside. About 60 percent of Yukon buyers select Denali, so this trim gets a lot of love and attention from the designers.

Denali models now have an all-new instrument panel, unique seats, and a choice among four color themes. Each of the themes include richly-textured wood trim, and supple leather surfaces with hand stitching.

Speaking of the tech within the Yukon, the updated navigation system is brilliant. Passengers in the second row can access the navigation options and choose a destination and then touch the button on the screen to send the directions up to the front so the driver has access. Teach your kids as early as you can how to find the closest Starbucks and you have your own little co-pilot as soon as they can read!

2021 Gmc Yukon

I mean, it does everything. Photo: GMC

Off-road adventurers, you’re going to like this news

For the first time, the Yukon is available in an AT4 trim. Customers raved about the Sierra AT4 pickup, and that enthusiasm transferred to the new Yukon. This trim was created for those who like their SUV to have off-roading, rugged capability. If this sounds like a good fit for you, you’re probably going to also like the four-corner air ride adaptive suspension, which raises and lowers the Yukon by two inches. When you’re tackling rough roads, those two little inches can make a big difference. A functional pair of red recovery hooks adorn the front of the Yukon, too.

Related: 2021 Chevy Suburban First-Look: The New Features that Made Me Fall in Love

Disclosure: GMC hosted me as a guest during the Yukon’s reveal in Vail, Colorado. All opinions are my own.

Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw