Northwest NEWS

July 10, 2000

Features

2000 GMC Yukon XL

Test Drive: 2000 GMC Yukon XL

   Big, roomy, and versatile describe the all new 2000 GMC Yukon XL (formerly called the Suburban).

   At 76.7" tall, 78.9" wide, and 198.9" long, the Yukon XL is a full-size 3/4-ton SUV. Suffice it to say that it filled the length of the parking space.

   It has a muscular, substantial design that reflects GMC characteristics in the shape of the hood, fenders, and grill. The big red GMC logo is centered on the grill. It is roomy, has great visibility, and once you get used to the large size, it is amazingly easy to drive and maneuver.

   The Yukon XL is made for hauling: people (up to nine with the three bench seats choice), large and small items, and (with the tow package) up to 10,500 lbs. of boat or trailer.

   This vehicle talks to you. After a trip or two around town, it told me to go buy a boat, gather up my friends, and leave on vacation. Due to other obligations, I regretfully resisted.

   The VORTEC V-8 engine is standard on the Yukon XL. It has 300 horsepower at 4,800rpm and 355 ft.-lbs. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The power is steady and available. I could sense the weight of the vehicle in backing up a hill.

   The 4-speed transmission with overdrive is very responsive. Power steering adds to the ease of driving. The 4-wheel drive can be set to be automatic or you can easily go into high or low or back into 2-wheel drive. The controls are to the left of the driver's seat.

   The new Autoride suspension is automatic. I had a smooth riding experience. My test drive model came with front and center bucket seats and a back bench seat. The driver's bucket seat came big and comfortable with a six-way power adjustment system and memory. The path to the back bench was through the middle of the two back bucket seats. Buyers can choose from several seat combinations.

   A large center console with two cupholders located between the two front bucket seats offered a large tray and plenty of depth below the tray. The arm rests folded up and down. There is plenty of space in the door, on the floor and behind the seats, and in the back to store odds and ends.

   I particularly liked the sunroof option. It seemed so unusual in such a large vehicle. The control is up above the rearview mirror. The sunroof can be tilted open or slid back.

   The dual-zone climate control system allows front and rear passengers to adjust temperatures independently.

   The cassette player is in a stand-alone area below the CD/AM/FM installation. It took me a minute to find it. A nine-speaker audio system with a rear-sealed subwoofer is available with rear audio controls for high quality sound to all passengers. Rear audio controls and headphone jacks are also available to allow front and back seat passengers to listen to different selections.

   I am particularly fond of the ONSTAR Communication System option. You press a button and hear the phone ring. A real person at GMC in Michigan answers. The microphone is on the window above the rearview mirror. In the standard package, which runs about $200 a year, you can get basic services, but for $399 a year, you get the whole deal, which includes navigation help and concierge services.

   I called in and talked to a young man who said he had my location and told me I was driving a pewter gray Yukon. Had I needed help finding my way, I would have given him the address of my destination and he would given me directions. I could also have made restaurant reservations or bought event tickets. He also could have locked or unlocked the car and provided other services.

   The real versatility of the Yukon is quickly apparent when you want to reconfigure the inside to carry large items. I easily folded down the middle seats, and then was able fold over the third bench seat to get a space long enough for my items. You can also easily remove all the seats if you need the height as well as length for an item.

   Fortunately for those of us who are on the shorter side, GMC offers step side running boards, and a step in the back bumper for easy access.

   My test drive model came with a liftgate. With a quick release, the gate lifts with ease and has a strap on the right hand side to lower it.

   The rearview mirrors have a light that illuminates the ground. It has programmable automatic door lock/unlock feature to open and close doors.

   GMC designers did well!