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2007 GMC Yukon Preview

A big improvement for a shrinking market

by Autobytel Staff
October 8, 2005
4 min. Reading Time

In a way, the car market is a lot like nature. There are places on this earth that, depending on the season, provide abundant wealth, in the form of food and water, for as many residents who wish to live there. Those are the good times. Then the days grow a little longer and the sun a bit hotter, the grass stops growing and the pools slowly evaporate. Some relocate to more fruitful locals, others stay to defend their deteriorating turf, while the rest simply die off. You’ve seen images on the Discovery Channel of fish flopping in shallow, isolated puddles, or crocodiles fighting over the last bit of moist mud – those are the not-so-good times. Those are the times large SUV retailers are going through right now. After a summer of record fuel prices and unprecedented natural disasters, sales of big American SUVs took a nosedive recently, falling between 20 and 25 percent compared with last year, though the Toyota Sequoia took the cake with a 46-percent decline in just one month. Hybrids are continuing to gain in performance and popularity, and those high gas prices haven’t receded – even though big oil companies are reaping terrific profits. Indeed, now is not necessarily a good time to be introducing a redesigned lineup of V8-powered big trucks. Unfortunately, seeing into the future isn’t an attribute of car companies, so they must continue to take gambles, hoping that the cars they design today will be desirable when they hit the lots two or three years (or more) from now. That’s just the problem GM ran into with its redesigned trucks, including this new 2007 GMC Yukon. Consider that GMC designers were benchmarking the Audi A4 back in 2002 for the 2007 Yukon’s interior, and you get a sense of how long the automotive design and engineering process can take. So, much of the new 2007 GMC Yukon took shape before skyrocketing gas prices and the subsequent shift to hybrids and more efficient smaller cars occurred. Should GM have been prepared with its own thrifty lineup, just as its import competitors were? We’ll leave that one for another time. In reality, people are still buying large SUVs, just not as many of them. And for those buyers, the 2007 GMC Yukon has a lot to offer. Its V8 engines are more powerful, the frame has been stiffened, overall styling is much cleaner, and attention to material and build quality has supposedly improved.

What it is

The 2007 GMC Yukon is a full-size, four-door SUV available with two-, four-, or all-wheel drive. Power comes from a variety of V8 engines and three rows of seats can accommodate between six and nine passengers. Variations of the Yukon include the upscale Denali and the longer XL model, while Chevrolet and Cadillac offer their own unique versions called the Tahoe and Escalade.


Why it matters

Large SUVs have been big cash cows for GM in recent years, and despite rising fuel costs, the company hopes to keep lining the coffers with these vehicles. Company executives recently suggested that the demand for vehicles like the GMC Yukon was softening, and believe that the once one-million-truck strong market would settle in the 700-800,000-unit range. Currently, GM captures 62 percent of large SUV sales, though the goal is to use the company’s redesigned full-size trucks, including the Yukon, to capture the remaining 38 percent of the market. In essence, GM seems to be intent on getting an increasing share of an admittedly shrinking market, whereas competitors often talk about getting in on the ground floor of growing segments where there’s the most potential for sales. Go figure.


When you can buy it

GMC will start distributing 2007 Yukon models to dealers during the first few months of 2006. Also arriving on lots will be the Yukon’s sister vehicles, the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and the Cadillac Escalade. Following in the second quarter of 2006 will be the Yukon XL, Chevy Suburban, Cadillac Escalade ESV and EXT models, and the Chevrolet Avalanche.


How much it costs

Pricing has not been released for the 2007 GMC Yukon, though company executives suggest that any price increase will be minimal. Given the softening large SUV market and GM’s new value pricing campaign, stickers should mirror those of the 2006 models, with a base, two-wheel-drive Yukon model going for about $35,000 and a loaded, all-wheel-drive Yukon Denali running about $51,000.


How quick it is

Exactly how fast the 2007 GMC Yukon is remains a mystery, but this year’s added engine power can’t hurt. The 4.8-liter V8 is now rated at 290 horsepower, up from 285 last year; and the 5.3-liter V8’s horsepower is up from 295 to 320. That small-block V8 features GM’s Displacement on Demand cylinder deactivation system, and with the redesigned Yukon’s improved drag coefficient, EPA combined fuel economy is expected to rate 20.5 mpg on two-wheel-drive trucks and 20.1 mpg on four-wheel-drive units. That’s up from combined ratings of 16-17 mpg for 2006 models. Yukon Denali models can also be equipped with a new 6.2-liter V8 that features variable valve timing and 380 horsepower complemented by 415 lb.-ft. of torque. This beefy engine will also include Displacement on Demand for the 2008 model year.


What it looks like

Much of what has changed with the 2007 GMC Yukon is found in the details. The overall silhouette remains the same, but the wheel track has been widened (three inches in front, one inch in the rear) for a more aggressive stance and better stability. The Yukon’s front end features a bold new fascia the demonstrates the designers’ attempt at cleaner lines and smaller gap tolerances, bodyside cladding has been removed, the lower door sills now overlay the rocker panels for a cleaner profile, and the tailgate handles have been replaced with hidden release buttons. Adding to the sharper design, standard wheel sizes have increased to 17 and 18 inches, with optional rims as large as 20 and 22 inches. Two-wheel-drive models have been lowered by an inch and four-wheel-drive models dropped 15 millimeters. The Yukon features large, shiny headlight housings with vertically-stacked lamps, while the Chevy Tahoe uses smoked lenses with horizontally-placed lights, and the Cadillac Escalade wears a unique front clip with its own fenders and front doors. Rear barn doors have been scrapped for all models. Inside is a completely redesigned dash, now featuring smooth shapes, tight tolerances, and none of the 1980’s-era radio and climate controls that have historically plagued GM interiors. It’s a welcome change, though the volume knob we saw on an early production model was conspicuously small. With the new design, cargo capacity has increased by 4.2 cubic feet behind the second row seats, and a new front-row center console offers an amazing 20 liters of capacity.


What it does best

With a 62-percent share of the market in its back pocket, GM obviously knows how to build and sell large SUVs. It may be true that gas prices are rising and plenty of people are at least considering smaller cars, but the fact remains that neither Americans nor their families are getting any smaller, which will continue to fuel the demand for spacious, powerful suvs. For those folks, or anyone who requires an impressive towing capacity or commanding view of the road, the 2007 GMC Yukon (or Chevy Tahoe or Cadillac Escalade) fits the bill perfectly. Plus, GMC has added features like a power tumble-and-fold second-row seat for easier third-row access and a power liftgate with controls on the door, the overhead console, and the key fob.


What we think

It seems ironic that just as the light appears to be dimming on the large SUV segment, GM unveils its best looking lineup to date. The lines of the 2007 GMC Yukon are much crisper, and the promise of tighter gap tolerances and a stronger focus on build quality address two of the main complaints with the existing vehicle. Add in the extra power and improved efficiency, and GM makes a good case for why you should buy its SUV, should you be in the market for such a ride. But be leery of those EPA numbers that crest the 20 mpg mark – real-world values invariably prove to be less. On a purely subjective note, we tend to favor the styling of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe over the GMC Yukon mainly because of its smoked headlights, giving the Chevy a sportier appearance.

Photos courtesy of General Motors



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