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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 GMC Yukon Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 GMC Yukon Overview

GMC's Upscale Suburban

For a long time, the Suburban platform was shared equally between Chevrolet and GMC. The vehicles were practically identical, save for different grille and headlamps. Now that GM has given GMC a new mission—to present more upscale, professional grade off-road machines—the division has decided to drop the shared Suburban moniker and remake the Suburban in their own image. GMC's version of the Tahoe and Suburban are now known as the Yukon and Yukon XL.

The Yukon and its larger XL sibling are basically the same vehicle, only the XL adds an additional 21 inches to the platform and includes a standard third row seat. The Yukon rests on GM's newest and strongest full-size-truck platform to date. The frame is made using a process known as hydroforming. Hydroform technology uses water under extremely high pressure to bend the steel into the desired shape, thus retaining much of the metal's original strength. The Yukon's rigid chassis means less body flex and therefore less chance of rattles and squeaks developing over the years. The suspension design, though old fashioned in principle, is about as good as a solid rear axle suspension is going to get. Thanks in part to its tall tires, the Yukon delivers a smooth comfortable ride on both paved and unpaved surfaces; anything that resembles a road imperfection seems to be absorbed by the Yukon to the point where you feel only the slightest thump. It's sort of like the Princess-and-the-Pea effect, only in reverse.

The Yukon's braking and handling abilities, while not car-like, are certainly at the top of the full-sized SUV scale, perhaps bested only by Ford's all-new 2003 Expedition, which features a fully-independent rear suspension. Still for a big vehicle, the GMC team has done a great job with the Yukon's suspension; we never felt as though the Yukon was going to float off in some direction other than the one we had chosen for it. The upgraded braking system—which now features ABS and a rear proportioning assist—stopped the Yukon quickly and with little fade time after time. The beefed-up brakes have been designed to handle not just the vehicle's weight, but also anything it is towing behind it as well. The Yukon is available in either 2- or 4-wheel-drive models.

GMC now offers four engine options spread over three platforms. The standard size Yukon is powered by a Vortec 4800 (4.8-liter) V8 that produces 275 horsepower. The Vortec 5300 (5.3-liter) makes only ten more horsepower but has significantly more torque which makes it an excellent choice for those who will be towing. This engine is optional on the Yukon and standard on the longer Yukon XL 1500. The real monster engine can be found in the Yukon XL 2500 model, which comes standard with a Vortec 6000 (6.0-liter) V8 good for 320 horsepower. It offers an optional Vortec 8100 rated at an astounding 340 horsepower and 455 ft-lbs. of torque (you could tow a small country with this thing). The XL models have had their transmission beefed-up to ensure they can handle all this power.

The GMC team wanted to do more than make the Yukon look good on paper, they wanted it to have an interior that contradicted the big, powerful truck stereotype. To this end, they have achieved their goals and then some. The dash, door panels, seats and optional equipment seem both out of place for this class of vehicle yet completely at home behind the GMC nameplate. Both the Yukon and Yukon XL can carry up to nine passengers, although the XL does it with a bit more comfort and a lot more room behind the third row seat. Most people who buy the Yukon will opt for a five-passenger configuration that places two up front, three in the second row and vast cargo area in place of the third seat. If you really need room for more, the XL is the model you'll want.

Three trim levels define the Yukon image: SLE, SLT and the premium Denali. SLE models come standard with cloth seats, six-way power driver and passenger seats, dual lumbar support for driver and passenger, front and rear air conditioning, programmable power door locks, power windows, tilt wheel, cruise control, rear cargo area 12-volt outlet, power heated side view mirrors, front side impact airbags and rear defroster. The SLT adds leather interior, 9-speaker audio with CD and cassette and a longer list of optional equipment that includes power sunroof, Homelink and upgraded versions of the OnStar system. The Denali includes upgraded two-tone leather, revised front grille, wheels and side trim, a larger standard engine and a very short options list.

There are a few things missing from the list that really should be here. There is no side curtain airbag to protect the rear seat occupants and there is no optional DVD based entertainment system. Hopefully these options will make their way into the Yukon soon.

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