2008 Yukon Hybrid
This is big.
No, I’m not talking about the sheer size of the 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid we just drove, although it is certainly an imposing, full-size SUV, especially when decked out in Jack Bauer black. No, I’m talking about the Yukon Hybrid's fuel economy: 18.2 mpg.
Normally, sub-20-mpg fuel economy is nothing to crow about. But keep in mind that this is a 5,617-lb. full-size American SUV we’re talking about here. This big GMC’s platform mate, the Chevy Tahoe, only managed 13.3 mpg when we drove it last year. Its competitors don’t do much better: The Toyota Sequoia only got 14.2; the Nissan Armada managed only a pathetic 11.4 mpg.
OK, fine, so the Yukon Hybrid has the least bad fuel economy in its class, if you want to be snarky about it. Yet its 6.0-liter V-8 also bests some other supposedly fuel efficient V-6 powered crossovers: Even the GMC Acadia only got 15.5 mpg during its time with us.
2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid Engine" />
So what does it all mean? Let’s do a little math here. If you get a standard ol’ GMC Yukon with the 5.3-liter V-8 drivetrain and 13.3 mpg of our Tahoe, you’ll wind up pouring more than 1,100 gallons of gas into the tank over the course of a 15,000 mile year. The Yukon Hybrid, however, will only consume about 825 gallons. If gas prices average the $4.50 they are right now in Southern California over the next five years, you could wind up saving roughly $7,000 in gas during a 60-month loan. That’s about $1,000 more than premium you pay for the hybrid version. In fact, gas would have to average about $3.90 per gallon before you were upside down on the equation.
The best news of all is that you don’t really sacrifice anything for the fuel economy here. The drivetrain is smooth and powerful, and although power delivery is a little odd sometimes – it seems to take forever to shift and it lingers at low revs – it’s not a negative. We were surprised how easy it was to stay in pure-electric mode; it’ll go for quite a distance without any fancy footwork from the driver. There is some additional noise, such as electric motor whirs and a subtle hum from the battery pack under the floor, but neither detract from an overall good driving experience.
Best of all, the vehicle still brims with all the things we already love about GM’s full-size SUV platform: It’s roomy, it’s nicely styled, it’s comfortable, and it can tow (6,200 lbs.) and haul (1,426 lbs.) a bunch of stuff. We even like the styling enhancements, which GMC says are primarily for aerodynamics. However, the gigantic “HYBRID” decals festooned upon the exterior would stay on the car only from the dealer lot to our garage if it were our vehicle.
There are demerits, of course. We wish it were less expensive, but in the vehicle’s defense, for its $50,945 price – which includes the $900 destination charge – you get an extremely well-equipped SUV, with a backup camera and sensors, a touch-screen navigation system, leather upholstery and a host of other assorted goodies that we’ll just call “the works.” Our tester’s additional $2,290 in options included a $1,295 rear seat entertainment system and a $995 sunroof.
We also wish that GM could figure out a better way to organize its seats. The folding mechanism for the third row is bad enough – you flip the seatbacks down, then fold them forward where they lock vertically – but if you want to maximize cargo room, you’re in for a surprise. The second-row seats fold flat, but not into the floor, so you wind up with a lousy load floor. You can remove the third row seats, but they are exceptionally heavy and unwieldy. The poorly executed seats are the biggest negative in the vehicle.
However, even with the cargo issues, we would have no problem living with the Yukon Hybrid. If you need to tow a boat, have a large enough family that three rows are mandatory, or if you simply like the feel of driving a big SUV and have the means to buy one, the 2008 Yukon Hybrid won’t disappoint.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo Credit: Oliver Bentley