GMC struck gold with its Denali sub-brand, a top-of-the-line GMC trim level commanding an average transaction price higher than Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and BMW. For 2020, GMC expanded its new AT4 trim level across its line-up, including the Yukon, with prices slightly less than a Denali, but offering much of its premium allure, but with a bit more attention to off-road prowess.
The Yukon is GMC’s full-size sport-utility vehicle, and a sibling of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade. These trucks are cash cows, sharing their mechanical underpinnings with GM’s pickups and boasting similar manners and personality.
For 2021, the Yukon gains an off-road-oriented AT4 model, which offers much, but not all, of the Denali’s luxury, with an emphasis on off-road capability. Yukon trim levels start with the SLE, and climb through SLT, AT4 and Denali trim levels. Rear-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels except the AT4, which has standard four-wheel drive. Otherwise, it’s a $3,000 option.
The Yukon’s aggressive slab-sided styling augments its oversized demeanor. This is no shrinking violet. Opting for the AT4 trim nets an oversized smoked gray grille and off-road styling details. But the best parts of the Yukon’s design details, like its hook-shaped lighting, lend it an updated, modern appearance.
As you’d expect, the AT4 is fitted with underbody skid plates for ventures off-road, although given its girth, not scratching the side of the vehicle is a bigger concern once the sidewalk ends. Our vehicle had optional power retractable running boards, which are a boon for climbing up to the Yukon’s cabin.
Boasting three rows of seats and nearly 123 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded, this truck is extraordinarily spacious, with chair-high seating covered in leather and accented with decorative stitching that denotes its upscale status. Head and leg room are generous. The cabin’s instrument panel is accented with upscale materials, although it lacks the sort of truly opulent trim you’d expect given its upmarket status. And some of its plastic trim seemed too downscale for the vehicle’s price and profit margin.
But it’s extraordinarily quiet at speed, at least if your spouse or significant other isn’t nagging you.
Notably, much of the Yukon’s opulence comes from the options list, specifically, its $9,145 Premium Plus Package, which adds a dual pane panoramic sunroof, rear seat 12.6-inchHD LCD screens, second-row heated bucket seats and second-row console, along with numerous other items.
The AT4 comes with a standard overhead-valve 5.3-liter V-8, 10-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. The Yukon AT4 can tow up to 7,700 pounds and has a substantial 1,702 pound payload rating. Other Yukon models can tow as much as 8,200 pounds. Opting for the pricier Denali nets a more powerful 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8. Other trim levels can be fitted with a 3.0-liter dual-overhead-cam inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel rated at 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
Safety and Technology
Given the AT4’s price, you’d expect a mountain of standard driver-assistance safety gear — and you get it: automatic emergency braking, forward-collision alert, front and rear park assist, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, automatic high beams, lane-change alert, side blind zone alert, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, safety alert seat, head-up display and rear pedestrian alert are all standard. The test vehicle included optional trailer side blind zone alert, an in-vehicle trailering app, a trailer brake controller, trailer hitch guidance and a head-up display.
The Yukon is equipped to keep you in touch with the wireless world with a standard 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, as well as standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation system are optional.
The Yukon AT4’s size is ever-present, easily filling lanes and parking spaces. So, driving in urban environments calls for care. There’s decent power when launching from a standing start, and there’s more than enough power once the 10-speed transmission downshifts. Fuel economy is unremarkable, coming in at 16.1 mpg, which included a fair amount of highway driving.
Body lean is evident in corners, and the suspension’s off-road tuning produces less undulation over bumps than you might expect, at least with the optional air suspension and electronic limited slip differential. Steering lacks feel but is nicely weighted and quick enough for its task. The AT4’s air suspension system raises ride height by an additional two inches vs. the standard suspension.
When combined with the Yukon’s garden-shed-like size and styling, it can make people or objects impossible to see near the vehicle without its surround-view cameras. Notably, the Yukon now uses a multi-link rear suspension that also improves ride quality compared to previous renditions.
2021 GMC Yukon AT4 specifications:
|Dimension||L: 210 inches/W: 81 inches/H: 76.5 inches/Wheelbase: 120.9 inches|
|Powertrain||5.3-liter DOHC V-8 engine; 6-speed automatic transmission; AWD|
|Fuel Economy||16 mpg city/20 mpg highway/18 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $64,800; As tested: $74,960 including $1,295 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2022 GMC Yukon AT4 is another unique flavor among GM SUVs, yet it doesn’t seem to be particularly compelling. Like its stablemates, it’s sizable. This can be felt in its handling and seen in its intimidating presence that it presents to other drivers. Fuel economy is nothing special, although the V-8 furnishes good power. If the AT4 catches your fancy, you’ll find it to be a roomy, comfortable, quiet and capable upmarket SUV.
2021 GMC Yukon AT4 — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the AT4 package on the Yukon?
Second only to the Yukon Denali, the Yukon AT4 offers most of the Denali’s technology and luxury at a price that costs at least $3,600 to $6,600 less, depending on whether you order rear-wheel or all-wheel drive on the Denali.
What is the difference between Yukon AT4 and Denali?
The AT4 comes solely with four-wheel drive, as it emphasizes off-road agility with a heavy dose of luxury. The Denali is the Yukon’s most opulent model and can be fitted with rear-wheel drive. The biggest difference is its driveline. The AT4 comes solely with a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8, while the Denali has a more-powerful 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8.
Is a GMC Yukon AT4 reliable?
Consumer Reports and other sources rates the GMC Yukon as having below average reliability.