One Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2021 GMC Yukon is capable with impressive tech and cluttered touch points

GMC debuted the Yukon and allowed AutomotiveMap to test drive one of the prototypes.

Photo courtesy of GMC

At long last, the GMC Yukon has been completely redesigned. The 2021 GMC Yukon excels exactly where you'd expect, but it delivers in areas where it has underperformed in the past. What matters most is that the Yukon is a formidable opponent for the Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition, and Chevrolet Tahoe.

On the outside, the Yukon strikes the right balance between imposing and confident. It's a look that is a natural evolution for the model with attributes influenced by the 2019 GMC Sierra. It's quite nice looking as far as large SUVs go.

2021 GMC Yukon The body of the 2021 GMC Yukon is not dissimilar to the outgoing model. Photo courtesy of GMC

Under the hood of the GMC Yukon Denali trim tested is the same 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine that's available in the GMC Sierra. It's paired with a smooth shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. Under low speed testing, the engine performed as expected without showing the type of strained confidence that came from the previous generation's model.

As predicted when the vehicle was revealed, the Yukon Denali's new shifter setup is less than ideal. Park and neutral are buttons while reverse and drive are levers that must be pulled forward. While the button aspects are easy to use, the pull on the reverse and drive leaves a lot of functionality to be desired. The depth of the pull is shallow and it was harder than it should have been to get a satisfying grip on the lever. Using those levers with gloves on is likely a no go.

The steering in the Yukon makes it easy to steer around tight turns. In that respect, it's easier to drive than the GMC Acadia.

2021 GMC Yukon At the front, the Yukon's relationship to the Sierra is apparent. Photo courtesy of GMC

GMC's new Active Response 4WD System reacted well in testing on ice, snow, and bare pavement. It quickly allocated torque to give a driver confidence in the Yukon, but it wasn't able to keep the vehicle completely stable with there being some slip off the line in snow when the Yukon is given a good amount of gas. That's pretty typical in those conditions, though.

Over bumpy terrain, the Yukon's available adaptive air suspension kept passengers comfortably stable in their seats. The tester was a prototype model and there were some issues with the ability of the car to raise and lower the four inches GMC advertises in its product info.

However, the bigger issue is navigating the air suspension controls. Off to the left side of the steering wheel is a mess of buttons, dials, and buttons that control everything from the Yukon's ride height to drivetrain and the 15-inch head-up display to engine start-stop and headlights. Altogether there are no less than 15 buttons, three levers, two dials, and trailering controls. That's a lot for fingers to navigate, even without gloves on.

2021 GMC Yukon The dashboard is filled with buttons, dials, and levers. Photo courtesy of GMC

The short drive of the prototype did not allow for any evaluation of the safety technology.

Despite being just a short drive, the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali showed that it has a lot to like. It's a step far ahead of the Nissan Armada and feels closer to luxury level than the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe. The Yukon Denali's interior is nicer than the Ford Expedition's but it's not as luxe as the Lincoln Navigator's.

2021 GMC Yukon The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali's interior is a big step up from previous Yukon Denalis. Photo courtesy of GMC

That being said, there are a lot of positives in the Yukon. The head-up display is impressively sized and gives a good amount of information. The standard 10-inch infotainment screen is handsome and works as advertised.

The interior of the Denali trim feels and looks more premium than it ever has. Thankfully GMC has gone away from the practice of just making the Denali interior a "more chrome" option.

The price point of the Yukon and more information about other trim levels and fuel efficiency is still forthcoming, as well as the opportunity to drive the model for an extended period of testing. Stay tuned. The Yukon is just getting started.

The 2021 GMC Yukon goes on sale this summer.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The new package gives the three-row SUV a more assertive look.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia Telluride buyers will soon have one more option box they can check when ordering their three-row SUV. The company announced a new Nightfall Edition package that equips the model with black features, including wheels.

The 2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition package is available on Telluride EX AWD (with Premium Package), SX AWD, and SX Prestige models covered in Snow White Pearl, Everlasting Silver, Gravity Gray, Ebony Black, Sangria, Black Copper, Dark Moss, or the new Wolf Gray paint job. Wolf Gray is only available to models equipped with the Nightfall Edition package.

The package only includes exterior elements. Its product list features a newly designed radiator grille with a black finish and 20-inch black-finished wheels with black lug nuts and center caps, which are Nightfall Edition exclusives. It also has gloss black roof rails, greenhouse trim, lower door side molding, skid plates, front bumper side air-duct garnish, and badging. The SUV's LED headlights and fog lights feature a black inner bezel (not available on EX) and body-colored door handles (already standard on EX).

"The Telluride Nightfall Edition offers a new choice to our customers who prefer a more assertive and premium look to their family hauler or weekend adventurer," said Sean Yoon, President & CEO, Kia Motors America, Kia Motors North America. "Our biggest and boldest offering's already lofty appeal elevates with the addition of this special package."

The 2021 Telluride Nightfall Edition will arrive in showrooms beginning in the second half of the year. Pricing has not yet been announced.

The SUV is made in West Point, Georgia alongside the Sorento, which was redesigned for 2021, and Optima, which has been renamed and redesigned for the new model year.

Trending News

 
 

The Ford Bronco is back.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco family of SUVs is perhaps the most anticipated vehicle launch in the last decade. Maybe longer. Now, the wait is over.

The 2021 Ford Bronco will come in three variants. There's the two- and four-door Bronco and the four-door Bronco Sport. The Bronco models feature body lines and attributes most similar to the original Broncos while the Bronco Sport is a lifestyle-focused off-road capable model.

Ford's design team has given the Bronco, more so than the Bronco Sport, a look that balances heritage and modernity equally. While there's always enthusiasts who will be disappointed, it's hard to find too much fault with the translation.

Two- and Four-Door 2021 Ford Bronco

The two- and four-door Bronco 4x4 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine that achieves 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission (six traditional gears and one crawler gear). A 10-speed automatic is available.

2021 Ford Bronco The models can have their doors and roof removed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Buyers can upgrade to a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that gets 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The two-door has a 100.4-inch wheelbase and the four-door comes in at 116.1 inches. Under the body are Dana 44-inch AdvanTEX axles and locking differentials at the front and back. Length varies slightly by trim level, as does height.

Part-time selectable engagement 4x4 capability comes standard. Advanced 4x4 with automatic, on-demand 4H engagement is available. Technology allows for electronic shift-on-the-fly capability.

Ford has equipped the models with up to seven G.O.A.T. Modes, via the Terrain Management System. The drive modes allow drivers to have confidence in the capability of their vehicle and take advantage of some technology while they're at it. The modes are Normal, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl.

2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco and Bronco Sport come with G.O.A.T. Modes.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Two-door Broncos come standard with a three-section roof system that's removable. A four-section removable roof is available. Roof panels are able to be removed by one person and stored in the vehicle.

A cloth top is standard on four-door models. A removable hardtop is available.

The two-door has a base ground clearance of 8.4 inches and up to 11.6 inches of clearance. The four-door has one-tenth inch less ground clearance.

It rides on wheels ranging from 16- to 18-inches, depending on trim level. Tires ranging from 30 to 35 inches are standard issue, supplied by Bridgestone, General Tire, BF Goodrich, and Goodyear.

2021 Ford Bronco The 2021 Ford Bronco can be optioned up to look bug-out ready.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

All models have a 3,500-pound towing capacity. Trail sights on the front fenders allow for up to 150 pounds of tie-down capacity.

Buyers will have access to over 200 factory-backed accessories at launch when the vehicles arrive in dealership in the spring.

The interior of the Bronco is available with rinse-out and drainage solutions. It's home to a classic dashboard that features up to a 12-inch, SYNC 4-run infotainment touch screen. More than 1,000 trail maps are available through the screen's trail guides system. Content can be created and shared with friends via on-screen functionality.

The 2021 Ford Bronco starts at $29,995 and comes in Base, Big Bed, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels.

2021 Ford Bronco The interior of the Bronco holds true to its heritage, with refined, modern touches.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Built alongside the Ford Escape, the 2021 Bronco Sport is very different than the hot-selling SUV. It has a completely different look inside and out, and a different wheelbase. Though still rugged, the Bronco Sport isn't as capable as its two- and four-door family members. However, its thoughtful innovations are smart ways to win over adventurers.

Ford will sell the Bronco Sport in Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels. Reservations are open now and the vehicles will arrive at dealerships later this year.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Ford will make over 100 accessories available for the Bronco Sport when it arrives at dealerships nationwide later this year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco Sport comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that gets 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. An upgraded 2.0-liter EcoBoost is available that yields 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Like the Bronco, the Bronco Sport has a Terrain Management System with up to seven available G.O.A.T. Modes. In its top Badlands grade, the model features four steel bash plates, frame-mounted tow hooks, and up to 23.6 inches of water fording capability. The small SUV is no slouch.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The Bronco Sport is capable of some serious off-roading.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The five-seater has best-in-class first- and second-row headroom. Folding down the rear seats allows enough room for two standing 27.5-inch wheel mountain bikes to be stowed on an interior Yakima bike accessory rack. A slide-out working table is available as well as a 400-watt inverter, and liftgate floodlamps.

A flip-glass rear window, low-load cargo floor, and roof rack are designed to make life on the trail easier. Bronco Sport will launch with over 100 available accessories.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Large mountain bikes fit in the cargo area of the model.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford is giving every Bronco Sport an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen display that features the SYNC 3 operating system and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist and safety technology is standard across the lineup.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The interior of the Bronco Sport is more refined than the Bronco's.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $28,115.

Find out more

You can find out more about the trim levels, color options, off-road prowess, and history of the Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport by growing AutomotiveMap's laundry list of Bronco family premier coverage.

The competition

The three-model debut has already begun to draw comparisons between the Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco. We sorted it out here.

Jeep tried to take a bite out of Bronco's big debut with a large horsepower announcement of their own. Read more here.

Reserve yours today

You can reserve yours now for just $100. Find out more here.

Trending News