Nov 042013
 

Handling & Ride Characteristics – Its limbs are as strong as stamped steel, its skeleton separates from its skin.

The body is mounted on the hydroform GMT 922 chassis. The chassis now supports the 202” overall length and retains the 116” wheelbase from before with 79” in width, and 76.9” in height. GM claims that this chassis is 35% stiffer in bending, and 50% greater in torsional rigidity.

The chassis is supported by short and long arm dual wishbone coil-over-shock independent suspension in the front with cast-forged aluminum lower control arms to reduce unsprung weight. In the rear is a five-link solid axle on progressive coil springs and monotube shock absorbers.

Making contact to the pavement is a set of 265/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler HP Sport Truck All-Season tires that focus on on-road handling.

The high-up coliseum box sitting offers excellent outward visibility, and making up for the wide 39’ turning radius which takes some cranking on the 3 turn lock-to-lock, and 17.75:1 ratio hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. The cross member mounted rack has vague on-center feel, is overboosted in effort, and lacks feedback but is more precise than the recirculating ball system once found in the older model.

Cornering at speed limit, the Yukon feels unease; the high center of gravity, and the three feet off of the ground sitting. The magnitude of body roll is exaggerated. Given its Esuvee statue, and the solid rear axle we don’t expect prospective buyers are asking for sports car like handling. Therefore, the handling is adequate. Any worse handling would be the Ford E-Series cargo van. During our journey through Yosemite, the Yukon was able to keep up with traffic, considering the road was commonly packed with other behemoth subspecies, RVee.

At its handling limit, the Yukon generates 0.7g lateral force. The save-the-day system consists of GM’s Stabilitrak, and Traction Control systems with built-in trailer sway control.

The ride is smooth. Driving over potholes, and wheel stops are no concern as you can barely feel the impact. In a smaller car, you will feel every single detail of the pothole on your spline. Then you feel guilty of not avoiding it but vagueness, and isolation could hibernate your sensory.

Brake Performance and Feel – Stopping this beast doesn’t require a whip.

Obedience can be found inside the 17” alloy rims. Vented disc brakes are spotted in all four corners with dual piston sliding calipers on 13” x 1.2” rotors in front and 13.5” x 0.8” rotors on single piston calipers at the hind side. In conjunction with the 4-channel anti-lock brake system, the Yukon stops from 60 mph in, respectable, 137’.

Brake modulation is vague, and worsens by the soft pedal. However, the system endured the steep decline of the Old Priest Road without fading. As the brakes are designed to handle Yukon’s 5,200 lbs (Durango 7,400 lbs) towing capacity, the load onboard is probably nothing in comparison.

Features & Technologies – The mobile artifacts museum.

Similar to the dated powertrain, the interior feels about a decade and half too old. Interior is full of hard plastics. The pieces are easy to move around, doesn’t have the solid feel with rough edges on the molding. The cockpit is visually acceptable in commercial fleet standard but feels cheap otherwise. The GMC branding is aim at the commercial/heavy truck base image in the GM corporate umbrella. Using cheap wood trim to differentiate civilian use only exaggerate that commercial effect. Workmanship is below par in today’s standard.

The standard Bose sound system has good solid bass for hip-pops but midrange is a bit muddy for talk shows on the adult stations. Interior quietness is good considering the two compartment design.

Steering wheel is only tilt-able and lack of telescopic adjustment. The manual tilt adjustments are only available in 4 largely spaced pre-fixed positions. Good luck looking for the perfect steering wheel position with that. The column shifter includes a toggle switch manual mode. The traditional OD button becomes the Tow Mode button.

Switchgear are unintuitive to operate. For instance, to change the trip-meter from A to B, and to change display info for gas consumption requires 4 dedicated buttons on the right side of the gauge cluster. The symbol on the buttons suggest that they might be some sort of lane departure control, or front collision detection that one would expect in a $50,000 vehicle. They are nothing more than basic display. Import cars usually accomplish the same function with fewer buttons. Where is the sunroof? $50,000 is the median annual household income in the high desert.

The seats in this cockpit full of archaeological bits-and-pieces are comfortable. The driver seat adjustments has GM’s typical non-sense where seat height and fore/aft adjustments are electric while tilt-and-recline are manual. Driving position is not the most ideal even with the electronically height adjustable pedals. Regardless how it is adjusted the brake pedal is too high compare to the throttle. Need to fully remove the heel to operate the brake pedal.

Cockpit is very roomy, and wide. For those with narrower physique, the width of the cockpit makes the use of arm rest a bit odd. Our Yukon can sit up to 7 people with the 3rd row seat in place. The problem with the 3rd row is it can’t be folded and stowed completely into the floor due to limited floor space restricted by the solid axle. The only way for a full trunk is by detaching, the not-so-easy to remove, 3rd row seat from the vehicle. Once it is out, the 16.9 cu-ft trunk will be expanded to 60.3 cu-ft. Maximum cargo volume of 108 cu-ft is obtained when the 2nd row is folded forward against the 1st row.

Rear seats are served by ceiling mounted HVAC vents – two for each row and two more in the back of the front arm rest along with independent rear HVAC, and audio control. Power outlets are conveniently located throughout the cabin even in the trunk to keep you electronic belongings charged. This solved the mystery of why the alternator is so big.

Overall Impression
Scoring System:

Powertrain Performance & Refinement
5

Handling & Ride Characteristics
6

Brake Performance & Feel
4

Comfort & Workmanship
5

Features & Technologies
5

Will I buy one factor
1

My recommendation factor
1

Lamzgarage factual ratings. Dollar-to-Horsepower: $155.16/HP; Dollar-to-Trunk Space: $455.92/cu-ft.

Afterthought – Check out the Dodge Durango

It is hard to justify the Yukon’s $50,000 price tag. There are alternatives like the Dodge Durango R/T AWD with HEMI (MSRP $39,245). Knowing this is a GM, it often times offers generous rebate/discount/incentive. Vehicle value also depreciates rather quickly. An used Yukon would be a good minivan alternative if gas consumption isn’t a big concern.

Overall, driving it in the high desert was a joy. The first class seating enables the advance look ahead, bird’s eye view over the other behemoths, where the BMW X5 looks like a X3, Toyota Sienna feels like a Matrix… Due to its size, cars tend to move out of the way. Owning one? Not so much. End

  One Response to “2012 GMC Yukon SLT 4WD”

  1. She’s a beautiful beast. Take her to the track and beat her like a rented mule. Why not….

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