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GMC Yukon XL, 2008: Weidel on Wheels

GMC Yukon XL, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 1A friend who owns a huge sport utility vehicle swears he needs it. No argument here; He’s got six pre-school aged or younger kids and prefers not leaving any at home when the family heads out.


Another buddy runs a business that absolutely requires he own a vehicle that seats six or more and can also haul heavy equipment. His choice is also large SUV, which I also understand. But the stay-at-home moms who drop off their lone child to school every morning or the single dad who works in an office and has never contemplated becoming a blue-collar worker, this I can’t understand.

Headlines hypothesize gas prices could climb to $4 a gallon this summer. Preposterous? Hardly. Those hefty fill-ups regularly cursed now could seem like a bargain by the time summer arrives.

GMC Yukon XL, 2008: Weidel on Wheels 2

So the idea of owning a school-bus sized SUV, like the 2008 GMC Yukon XL test driven here last week and without a valid reason strikes me as odd. How could so many people choose a vehicle not exactly the model of fuel efficiency. The Yukon has third-row seating, can accommodate nine people and the towing capacity reaches nearly 10,000 pounds.

Even without considering the fuel costs, owning a large SUV regularly tests one’s skills at backing up, parking and keeping the “big dog” in your own lane. Frankly, I don’t want to be challenged that much or that often.

To be fair, GMC is proud of its Yukon models, advertised as getting between 14-19 mpg (expect something closer to the lower figure). They rate high among consumer magazines and online publications that detail them in numerous categories.

So what if the handling feels numb at times? What can you expect from a vehicle that lumbers down the road when it’s carrying a heavy load? However, it is a solid cruiser for long journeys down an endless stretch of freeway.

The Yukon XL has several V8 engine selections, including the 5.3-liter model with 320 horsepower. Looking for a little less? Perhaps the standard 4.8-liter with 295 horsepower is the way to go. There’s also the 6.0-liter that delivers 366 horsepower.

If you thought all Yukons came with four-wheel drive capacity, think again. The standard model is rear-wheel drive, so bring the snow chains when heading into snow country. Another presumption about the Yukon is folding down the third row will add storage room. Why the third row doesn’t fold down astonishes me, because what’s left is 46 cubic feet of cargo space. The seats can be removed manually, but that’s a burden since they’re heavy.

Redesigned in 2007, the Yukon is tapered and has larger headlamps than previous models. A more distinguished front grille is another positive revamp that occurred last year. Nothing much has changed for 2008 as the Yukon continues to keep step with larger SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition.


Power — 5.3-liter, V8, 320 horsepower.

Mileage Estimates — 14 mpg (city) 19 mpg (highway).

Standard Features — traction control, anti-lock brakes, six-way power driver seat, daytime running lights, compass, rear privacy class, power windows, doors, mirrors; outside temperature gauge, front tow hooks, full spare tire.


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