2021 GMC Yukon AT4: Long Term Report 2

gmc yukon Full Overview

As the world finally returns to some semblance of normalcy, our daily commute has returned with a vengeance, and we’ve also hit the road again in search of adventure. Why does this matter, you ask? Because we’ve spent a lot of time behind the wheel of our award-winning 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 four-wheeler. And if you take nothing else away from this second long-term report, know this: We’re still as impressed after more than 11,000 miles as we were the day we presented the trophy.

IN our first reporting period we logged tons of tow miles and we’re happy to say we did exactly the same in the second quarter. About 800 of the more than 5,300 miles logged for this report were with an 8,000-pound trailer. With this particular trailer, a 21-foot toy hauler, the Yukon averages about 9.5 mpg. While that’s not amazing, considering gas is pushing $5 a gallon in some parts of the country, it’s still not terrible when you take overall fuel economy into consideration.

One of the few complaints we had in the initial report was about the 2021 GMC Yukon AT4’s fuel economy, and we’re sad to report that our hopes for a bump in fuel economy after wrap-around didn’t materialize. In the first reporting period, the Yukon AT4 averaged 14.3 mpg, and then in the second period this improved marginally to 14.5 mpg. If we remove towing from the equation, average fuel economy jumps up to 15.6 mpg, which is still short of both the EPA’s 16 mpg city and 18 mpg combined ratings. We’ll continue to monitor fuel economy, but at this point we’re confident it is what it is.

2021 GMC Yukon AT4: What’s Hot, What’s Not

  • Warm: Powerful V-8 engine and smooth-shifting 10-speed transmission; lots of legroom in the back seat
  • Not: Still doesn’t meet minimum EPA fuel economy rating; air suspension is constantly adjusted while driving, which gives an almost seasick feeling at times

Speaking of performance, one of the points we’ve brought up on several occasions is the fact that for the 2021 model year, GMC offered the Yukon AT4 with just one engine option, the 5.3-liter V-8. GMC apparently heard our complaints and for 2022 added the Burley 6.2-liter V-8 to the Yukon AT4’s option list. After spending a week drive the 2022 model with the big engine we can confidently say that while we appreciate the offering, we don’t feel that the 5.3-liter V-8 is inadequate in any way. Yukon AT4s with the 6.2-liter V-8 pull less and get worse fuel economy than the 5.3-liter V-8, and in daily driving it really didn’t feel that much faster.

Last quarter we took the Yukon AT4 into the Sierra Nevada mountains and rode through some beautiful forest trails. This time we spent most of our off-road driving in the deserts of the American Southwest. Our initial reactions still ring true as we love the Yukon AT4’s suspension tuning on graded desert roads. Our tester was equipped with the company’s adjustable air suspension and adaptive magnetic ride control dampers. Combined with the new independent rear suspension, this set-up provides an incredibly smooth ride on rough roads, even with the air suspension at its highest setting.

In addition to the Yukon’s suspension, we were also impressed with the traction provided by the SUV’s Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT tires. While we wish GMC would have gone with an 18-inch wheel for more sidewall, we love that those 275/60R20 tires are 33 inches tall and nearly 11 inches wide. That’s a pretty big tire for a three-row public driver. In addition to providing great grip on loose dirt and wet, slippery roads, Goodyear tires are impressively quiet. Combined with the Yukon’s already great interior acoustics, there is no perceived tire noise rolling on the road.

As we sit halfway through our year-long evaluation of the award-winning 2021 GMC Yukon AT4, we’re happy to say the vehicle continues to impress. The Yukon hasn’t needed any service other than its first scheduled oil change at 7,500 miles, though it hasn’t met a gas pump it hasn’t liked. For next quarter we have more towing planned and a road trip or two, and we hope to get some snow in. Fingers crossed.

Unless you’re trying to be Ivan Stewart, the GMC Yukon AT4 is a perfectly comfortable and capable desert explorer. We’ve logged many miles trekking through the Joshua trees of the Mojave Desert and are continually impressed by the large SUV’s performance. Interestingly, our go-to transfer case setup for almost all of our research has been the four-wheel automatic for no other reason than it’s available. We’ve been impressed by how seamless the activation of the four-wheel drive system is in auto and have yet to be disappointed.

We’ve become big fans of the Yukon AT4’s Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT tires. Although we are not the most aggressive, we have had great traction in all conditions. And bonus points to GMC for shoehorning a massive 33-inch tire under the fenders.

With two kids in car seats in the middle of the row, we had high hopes for the Yukon’s rear-seat entertainment system. However, it is fundamentally flawed in two ways. First, there are no built-in media services, despite the vehicle having built-in OnStar WiFi. And second, there’s no way to control devices connected to the HDMI ports from the front seats. In the end, trying to use the system has caused more crying than it has solved.

Speaking of useless features, we’re still not sure what the point of the electric center console is. Although we hoped that after six months we would have a clear picture of its usefulness, unfortunately we have not. If you don’t see something we don’t, save $350 and skip this option.

The oddest feature of the Yukon AT4 so far has been the dash-mounted push-button shifter. We’re already experiencing buttons sticking, even though we haven’t spilled anything on the dashboard. We will look at this area during the year.

Report: 2 out of 4

Looks good! More details?

  • Base price: $64,800
  • Price as tested: $75,605

Long-term number

  • Miles so far: 11,240
  • Miles since last report: 5,326
  • Average mpg (this report): 14.48
  • Test best tank (mpg): 18.78
  • Test worst tank (mpg): 9.28 (towing 8,000 pounds)

Maintenance

  • This period: Oil change (7,500 miles)
  • Problem areas: None

Quote about log book

  • “Really wish this thing had a bigger gas tank, I fill up every 4 days.”
  • “Received another compliment on how good the Yukon AT4 looks…this doesn’t get old!”
  • “The suspension on this Yukon flat hits dirt roads.”

Alternative as tested

  • AT4 Premium Package ($9,145)
  • Cayenne Red Tintcoat paint ($645)
  • Second-row heated buckets ($370)
  • Power Sliding Center Console ($350)

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