Now that GM has completely revealed the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Suburban, it will turn its attention to the GMC variants – the next-gen 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The GMC versions will be revealed on Tuesday, January 14th in the mountain town of Vail, Colorado, where the Big Red brand recently announced a partnership with the resort operator. Much like the Suburban and Tahoe, the Yukon is vital to GM’s sales volume and bottom line. So, here’s what we expect from the all-new, fifth-generation model.
Mechanically, the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL will be identical to the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban. The biggest, under-the-skin change will be the move from the K2 platform used by the current Yukon since 2015 to GM’s all-new T1 platform. The T1 body-on-frame architecture was first introduced on the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and 2019 GMC Sierra pickup trucks, but it will receive several noteworthy modifications for the SUVs. One of those changes is the introduction of an independent rear suspension (IRS), which marks a departure from the outgoing generation’s solid rear axle with multi-link setup. The change to the IRS is all in the name of better ride and handling and improved interior space.
Under the hood, we expect GMC’s new flagship SUVs to be offered with three engine options – two gasoline engines and a diesel. The gasoline motors include the naturally aspirated 5.3L V8 L84 engine as standard and the 6.2L V8 L87 in the Yukon Denali. The 3.0L I6 LM2 turbo-diesel Duramax engine will be optional on some models. All three engine choices will be mated to the new GM 10-speed automatic transmission.
Besides delivering weight savings benefits, the new T1 architecture is stiffer than the K2 structure, enabling engineers to more precisely tune the suspension to deliver better ride and NVH characteristics. On the subject of suspension, expect the standard suspension system to be complemented by the optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) and Air Suspension. The new GM Global B electrical architecture will serve as the underlying signal and communications framework.
Much like the Tahoe and Suburban, the 2021 GMC Yukon will be larger than the outgoing models. An all-new exterior appearance featuring GMC’s latest design language will make the Yukon reminiscent of the new-for-2019 GMC Sierra. C-shaped lighting elements will be present front and center.
Trim level-specific front- and rear-end treatments will be present and accounted for, with the grilles, exhaust configurations (some models will have four exhaust tips), running boards and wheels varying from trim to trim. The off-road-oriented Yukon AT4 – a new addition to the Yukon family that was promised previously by GMC – should have a notably different front fascia than the rest of the lineup so as to allow for a higher approach angle.
The swing panels – the hood, doors and liftgate – will be made of aluminum – much like on the new GMC Sierra. But despite the light-weighting efforts, the new Yukon will probably be slightly heavier than the outgoing model thanks to its larger size and the IRS.
Much like the exterior, the cabin of the 2021 Yukon will be all-new. Bigger screens with the latest infotainment systems will combine with quality materials and an all-new design. The column shifter will be replaced by a push-button setup like in the Tahoe and Suburban. The Denali is expected to have a different cockpit configuration than lesser models, as first observed by GM Authority.
More importantly, the Yukon will have much-improved room in the second and third rows. The same should ring true in the cargo department. The improvements will be made possible by the new independent rear suspension setup, which enables more interior space over the solid rear axle config.
An all-new rear seat entertainment system, with a modern user interface and configurations, will also be available.
We expect the lineup for the 2021 GMC Yukon to follow the SLE – SLT – Denali trim level hierarchy of the current models. However, GMC will also introduce the aforementioned Yukon AT4 as a more rugged, off-road-oriented variant.
Much like the current models, two length options will be offered: the regular Yukon and the extended-length Yukon XL.
We expect 2021 GMC Yukon pricing to start in the low- to mid-$50,000 range, with the Yukon XL starting at around $3,000 more. We don’t expect to hear about pricing during the reveal event. Instead, that info should be announced closer to launch.
Production of the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL will take place exclusively at the GM Arlington plant in Texas. The facility will continue being the only plant in the world to produce the full-size SUVs.
The new Yukon will be revealed at an event on January 14th in Vail, Colorado.
The 2021 GMC Yukon will launch in the middle of 2020. It will be available in all current markets where GMC has a first-party presence – the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East. Sales will first commence in the U.S. first, with availability in other markets coming thereafter.
The Yukon typically accounts for roughly a quarter of the highly-lucrative mainstream full-size SUV segment, which also includes the following models: