While the concept of the full-size SUV has been around for quite a long period of time, it was first popularized in the United States General Motors with the advent of the Suburban. Prior to World War 2, the military requested a vehicle that had the capabilities of a truck but also a passenger compartment that could be used to haul a good number of troops and other personnel from place to place. Chevrolet complied, and the seeds of the vehicle that would become the Suburban were planted. For the first few years of production the Suburban would largely resemble a station wagon transplanted on top of a truck chassis, but with time it would begin to evolve its own unique style so that by the end of the 1950's it was quite separate from most other vehicles offered by the company.
When Chevrolet's trucks were re-designed at the beginning of the 1960's, the Suburban began to assume a more familiar shape, taking styling cues from the company's pickups that would influence its general look for the next 50 years. GMC was by now involved in Suburban production, producing their own edition of the vehicle known as the Carryall. By the 1970's the line between the two SUV's had blurred to the point where they were both dubbed the Suburban and featured almost identical sheet metal and drivetrain choices.
Eventually, GMC would seek to distance themselves from the Chevrolet division and renamed their version of the traditional 9-seat passenger truck the Yukon XL, reflecting the fact that it was considerably longer than their other full-size SUV, the Yukon. These two vehicles would form the backbone of the company's sport-utility vehicle lineup for years, complemented by the emergence of the Envoy XL. This more recent vehicle lengthened the platform used by the mid-size Envoy in order to provide a third row of seats and offer a less imposing large SUV for the company's showrooms.
When choosing a used full-size SUV, it is well worth checking out these three options from GMC. These vehicles are known for certain attributes and characteristics that help to distinguish them from each other, and they present a well thought out range of choices to discriminating buyers. This article takes a look at each of these truck options in order to help shoppers choose the used GMC full-size SUV that meets their criteria.
2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon
The 2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon is General Motors' upscale version of the plainer Chevrolet Tahoe. While both vehicles feature the same general engine and transmission options and very similar exterior styling, GMC has worked hard to separate the Yukon from the Tahoe by offering more comprehensive options package, up to and including the ultra-luxury Denali edition of the vehicle which debuted in 2001.
The first three years of production saw base GMC Yukons outfitted with a 4.8-liter V-8 engine that produced a healthy 275 horsepower along with 290 lb-ft of torque. A more powerful, 280 horsepower 5.3-liter engine could be had as an option. From 2004 onwards, the Yukon saw power for each engine boosted, with 10 and 15 extra ponies being doled out respectively. A four-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox provided with the Yukon, and four-wheel drive is also available.
The 2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon is as large inside as it looks on the outside, with almost 105 cubic feet of cargo space available with the rear rows of seating out of the picture. 20 inches shorter than the next step up on the GMC SUV ladder, the Yukon never feels cramped - passenger room is acceptable for adults even at the very back of the vehicle, and the leather seats found in the Denali are top notch and provide great support. A DVD entertainment system is optional, along with navigation, but GM's OnStar vehicle communication and assistance package is provided as standard equipment. Leather is also available on lower Yukon trims for those who are not interested in all of the other features that come with the fairly pricey top of the line model.
When it comes to a used full-size SUV that provides good cargo capacity without the requisite long wheelbase, along with solid V-8 power, the 2000 - 2006 GMC Yukon makes a hard to beat choice.
2002 - 2006 GMC Envoy XL
GMC Envoy mid-size SUV is based on the same platform as the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, but in order to help the brand differentiate the two vehicles GMC has also released a much larger truck which offers the same styling mounted on a stretched chassis. The 2002 - 2006 GMC Envoy XL provides enough room for 7 passengers but keeps the svelte styling of the standard Envoy intact, presenting an appealing package for buyers turned off by the bulky appearance of the Yukon and Yukon XL.
Despite its increased size, the Envoy XL is provided with exactly the same engine options as the shorter edition. A 4.2-liter, 270 horsepower 6-cylinder engine does a fairly good job of accelerating the heavy SUV, but a better option is the 300 horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 which also throws in 330 lb-ft of torque. The V-8 is the only engine provided for the luxury Denali trim level. Four-wheel drive is optional, and each version of the Envoy XL uses GM's tried and true 4-speed automatic transmission. Traction control and a locking rear differential are available on non-four-wheel drive models, while load-leveling suspension can also be installed in order to help out drivers who frequently tow or haul heavy materials.
The stretch Envoy platform also includes a slight bubble in the roof in order to help adults crawl back to the third row of seating. The Envoy XL is not as wide as other GMC SUV's, but in general it provides an acceptable amount of passenger space, and rear passengers are also given control of their heating and cooling options to prevent having to negotiate complicated air conditioning requirements across such a long cabin. Leather seats, an optional sunroof and a Bose sound system round out the options list.
The 2002 - 2006 GMC Envoy XL is worth a look for used full-size SUV shoppers who are considering purchasing the Yukon XL, but who might instead want to keep things lower key.
2007 GMC Yukon XL
In 2007 the legendary GMC Yukon XL was re-designed once again to take advantage of an improved platform that had also recently debuted in the form of the Sierra and Silverado pickups. Not only are the vehicle's underpinnings brand new, but the overall styling has been given a serious revamp. The 2007 GMC Yukon XL is dressed to kill, and it has lost all of the body cladding and plastic trim which weighed the previous generation of the SUV down.
The interior of the Yukon XL is perhaps best described as a home away from home. Not only is there ample room for up to 9 passengers, but even when fully loaded the Yukon XL still has tons of space left over for luggage and other gear. The first two rows can be ordered with captain's chairs, and the rear seat is a bench that can seat either two or three people depending upon the vehicle's configuration. A DVD player and wireless headphones keep passengers entertained while they relax in the comfort of their optional leather seats and their own separate climate control. Removing the rear seats provides just under 140 cubic feet of space for hauling whatever oversized cargo can be squeezed through the vehicle's gaping rear tailgate.
A 5.3-liter, 310 horsepower V-8 is standard equipment in the Yukon XL, and while buyers can upgrade to a larger 355 horsepower 6.0-liter unit the most impressive option is reserved for the Denali luxury edition of the vehicle. Featuring a 6.2-liter, 380 horsepower V-8 and a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Denali trumps the other versions of the SUV by 2 extra gears and whole lot of tire-smoking power. It also features all-wheel drive instead of the selectable four-wheel drive found in the regular Yukon XL. The long-wheelbase SUV can pull almost 10,000 lbs when ordered in three-quarter ton trim, making it one of the most comfortable and safest tow vehicles on the road.
There are few used full-size SUV's which can match the 2007 GMC Yukon XL in terms of features and power, and if towing is a priority then the Yukon XL should be near the top of any test drive list.