GMC Yukon Hybrid Review

GMC Yukon Hybrid Review

Hybrid technology is a wonderful thing, simultaneously improving fuel mileage and vastly lowering emissions. Originally, it was only available on funky hatchbacks and midsize sedans, but the GMC Yukon Hybrid represented a radically different application for a gasoline-electric powertrain. Boasting a significant increase in fuel efficiency compared to a typical big ute -- and reduced emissions, of course -- the "green" Yukon sacrificed serious off-roading ability. But this "sacrifice" would have about as much effect on the typical SUV owner as a power outage on the Amish.

Naturally, this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too SUV wasn't cheap, with a price tag of more than $50,000 when new. Even with its significant gas savings, the Hybrid made for a questionable economic choice over the regular Yukon. When compared to GM's large eight-passenger crossovers that offered more interior space with only a minor fuel-economy deficit, it made even less sense. But if owning a traditional truck-based SUV while minimizing fuel consumption is your goal, a used Yukon Hybrid may be worth considering.

Used GMC Yukon Hybrid Models

The GMC Yukon Hybrid debuted for 2008 and was produced through 2013. This full-size, truck-based SUV utilized a gasoline-electric powertrain to earn a combined EPA fuel economy estimate of 21 mpg in combined driving, thanks almost entirely to its considerably improved city fuel consumption. The Hybrid's combined fuel economy rating was roughly 5 mpg higher than the combined rating for the non-hybrid Yukon of the same time period.

Rather than going light on the power, GMC fitted the Yukon Hybrid with a burly 6.0-liter gas V8 that, combined with the added boost of the twin electric motors, supplied up to 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. A full "two-mode" hybrid, this Yukon had the ability to run up to 30 mph on electric power alone; hence the efficiency in city driving.

The Yukon's hybrid system included a novel dual-mode transmission design. In normal driving, the transmission would act as a CVT (continuously variable transmission). As driving demands increased, such as when towing, the transmission switched over to a more robust four-speed automatic transmission. This unique duet of transmissions also allowed the 4WD Yukon to have low-range gearing, an unusual attribute for a hybrid SUV. It also boasted a maximum 6,000-pound towing capacity when properly equipped.

The hybrid system's added weight was offset somewhat by lightweight body panels and thinner front seats. Additionally, a low-slung front airdam that would look more at home on a Corvette helped aerodynamic efficiency but hurt the Yukon Hybrid's approach angle. But since most SUVs don't actually go off road, it's essentially a non-issue.

Otherwise, the GMC Yukon Hybrid was similar to a regular Yukon, meaning it could handle as many as eight passengers and provide almost 109 cubic feet of cargo space. But to get that space one would have to physically remove the heavy 50/50-split third-row seats. That task is not required in most other SUVs (including GMC's crossover Acadia) where the third-row seats fold neatly into the floor and are more comfortable to boot.

Changes through the years were limited. Still, shoppers should note that Bluetooth was added for 2009, a USB audio port debuted the following year and front side airbags were not available until 2012.

In our reviews of the GMC Yukon Hybrid, we've found that it drives very much like a regular Yukon. Acceleration is on par and highway passing performance is even better than what a related 5.3-liter V8-equipped Tahoe provided. The main downsides concern price and absolute fuel economy. When new, the Hybrid version cost thousands more than a similarly equipped regular Yukon. And the vehicle's combined fuel economy rating, even though it's a major improvement, still isn't what most people would consider "good" fuel economy in the absolute sense. Overall, we think those who don't need massive towing capacity would be better served with the considerably less expensive -- yet equally roomy and nearly as fuel-efficient -- GMC Acadia.