2021 GMC Yukon gets big boost in towing, small bump in fuel economy

The redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon gets a modest bump in fuel economy but big gains in towing capacity, GMC announced Monday. 

Despite getting larger and loaded with more equipment for 2021, the full-size SUV nets a boost of 1 mpg over the outgoing model on most variants, with an EPA-rated 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, 18 mpg combined for Yukon’s with the 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 in rear- or four-wheel drive. The longer Yukon XL with four-wheel drive is rated at 15/19/17 mpg.

The Yukon Denali with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 didn’t fare as well for 2021; the city rating increased by 1 mpg to 15/20/17 in rear-wheel drive, but the highway and combined mpg in four-wheel-drive fell to 14/19/16 mpg from last year’s 14/22/17 mpg. 

GMC and the EPA haven’t yet released fuel-economy figures for what should be its most efficient powertrain, a 277-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6. That info is expected later this year. All Yukons use a 10-speed automatic transmission.  

Like other GM full-size SUVs, the 2021 Yukon is longer than its predecessor by 6 inches. Most of that expanded space is in the cargo area and third row. GMC emphasized improvements in space and towing capacity in the redesigned Yukon.

With the 5.3-liter V-8, towing increased by more than 20% in both standard and XL versions, effectively making it more capable than the 6.2-liter V-8. The increases are for the standard towing package, so customers might not need to upgrade to the max trailering package. Standard towing increases 1,400 pounds to 7,900 pounds in rear-wheel drive, and up 1,500 pounds to 7,800 in the rear-wheel-drive XL. The max towing capacities are about the same, maxing out at 8,400 pounds with the 5.3-liter V-8 in rear-wheel drive.

The 2021 GMC Yukon goes on sale this summer.