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Monday, May 19 2014 00:04

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road - 2015 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT Review

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I'm not used to driving something as beefy as a full-size SUV on a regular basis, which ahead of the delivery of a 2015 GMC Yukon 4WD - SLT here at Rock Father HQ, was a bit of a concern in that there might be an element of "challenge" involved. In truth, the 2015 Yukon is packed with so many driver (and family) friendly features, that driving it is hardly a challenge, but an experience both enjoyable and exhilarating, despite it's size. What follows are my thoughts on this new ride after spending a full week with it and assimilating it into my daily routine as "The Rock Father."

When evaluating new cars and trucks, the elements of function, style and performance are all important to me on varying levels. Being a parent with a couple of car seats in the back shouldn't mean "boring" (and sadly, it often does), but style shouldn't mean sacrificing function or performance. So how did the 2015 GMC Yukon SLT hold up?

2015 GMC Yukon SLT

Exterior Style:

Muscular and powerful, yet sleek and unpretentious, the Yukon follows the expected body style of a vehicle of this size and class. The passive entry system and remote keyless entry are appreciated, while the halogen projector headlamps make for an impressive range of illumination during night drives. The 20" polished aluminum wheels (a $1,400 upgrade) make a nice complement to the "White Diamond Tricoat" (a $995 premium) finish. While white (or variations thereof) is currently the most popular color for car and truck buyers, I'd personally go with the "Onyx Black." The power rear liftgate is a cool feature, and one I used often - but the real bonus was the power sunroof, which came as part of the optional "Sun & Entertainment Package" (a $3,255 upgrade). Neither of my daily drivers have a sunroof, and it's a feature that I really miss from some previous rides. 

2015 GMC Yukon SLT

Interior Style:

The cockpit and passenger compartment for the 2015 Yukon is impressive. If the designers at GM were "swinging for the fences," they succeeded, as this is a home run. Comfortable and stylish, the "Cocoa/Dune" color scheme was a fine compliment to the exterior, and the overall vibe was akin to a family room or rolling office. It's almost ridiculous how inviting it is inside, and that's saying a lot as I took a peek at a ton of new rides at the recent Chicago Auto Show, and this is up there in the comfort zone. Heated seats, a heated steering wheel, individual climate controls, cooled front seats, plenty of room for anything you could possibly need to travel with or store (the center console even holds file folders), our family was right at home. A big bonus: POWER. A 110-Volt AC power outlet was great to have, while plenty of USB ports and additional power jacks were available throughout the cabin. 

2015 GMC Yukon SLT

The "Intellilink" Navigation and Entertainment System here includes an 8" diagonal touch screen up front, a Bose Premium Audio system, and a rear seat system that features a fold-down screen, dedicated controls, a remote control, dual wireless headsets and more. The built-in Blu-ray player was a nice touch, and bluetooth connectivity to my Windows Phone made streaming tracks from my portable library super easy. The Bose audio system is among the best factory stereos that I've ever heard - and much was heard in the GMC from the metallic stylings of MUSHROOMHEAD and NAPALM DEATH, to the family-friendly jams of THE AQUABATS!, RECESS MONKEY and SUZI SHELTON. We even watched a little of "The Big 4" (METALLICA, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH) at one point, but the kids really dug the chance to watch some favorites like DOC McSTUFFINS, DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD and CAILLOU while we were on the road. We're a big entertainment family, and the 2015 Yukon certainly helped us embrace that in our travels.

While the audio system provides welcome noise inside, the cabin of the Yukon is exceptionally quiet from outside noise. It's a smooth, and quiet ride overall.

rockfatherdrivingFunction:

Space for the car seats? A non-issue here, with both of my girls comfortably strapped into the second row. Storage space was also in great supply, and I took advantage of the customizable configurations several times through use of the power-fold third row seating and power fold-and-tumble second row. With all seats up, the "Han Solo smuggler's compartment" (that's what I call all "hidden" trunk nooks) came in handy. For a two-seat sit-and-stand stroller and a couple of MY LITTLE PONY plushies from Build-a-Bear Workshop, the Yukon was quite accommodating.

Performance:

With an estimated fuel economy of 18 MPG combined (16 city/22 highway), the Yukon is thirsty (on-board computer showed us averaging about 15 MPG), though it's important to note that it gets better fuel economy than other competitors in its class, largely due to it's "active fuel management." Being a FlexFuel vehicle, the Yukon can run on the E85 ethanol, but while that can (in theory) save a few bucks at the pump, it's a sacrifice in mileage. Truth be told, most prospective buyers for a vehicle of this size are not as concerned about fuel economy as they are performance and function. The 5.3L V8 Ecotec3 engine is a powerful beast with a distinct rumble, accelerating with a ton of "zip," and while towing isn't something that I'm into, towing has always been something that GMC is all about, and ours featured the "Max Trailering Package" (a $650 upgrade) that made this thing ready to haul just about anything you'd want to pull. 

2015 GMC Yukon SLT

Safety:

The 2015 GMC Yukon is an exceptionally safe vehicle, and was just awarded 5-Star Safety Ratings by the NHTSA for front and side crashes this past week. Where there's a little nick is on the rollover rating, where the Yukon scored a 3/5. 

The SLT model as-driven has additional airbags, forward collision alert, side blind spot alert with lane change alert, lane departure warning, a rear vision camera and cross traffic alert, "Stabilitrak" electronic stability, tire pressure monitoring, OnStar, and a safety alert seat... which zaps you when any of the aforementioned alerts come into play. The rearview camera and front collision alert were fantastic in helping to guide this typically non-SUV driver.

Bonus: What does a 4-year-old think of the 2015 Yukon?
The Bottom Line:

The 2015 GMC Yukon - 4WD SLT feels both sporty and luxurious, and if the latter is your thing, the available Denali upgrade is available (starting at $62,680) for some additional top-of-the-line features. It's just so comfortable all around, you tend to forget that you're driving a truck (after all, this is built on a pick-up style base) and sort of "become one with the vehicle," which is just the experience that automakers strive for. Yes, it's pricey, which means it's certainly not for everyone - and it's also thirsty, so there's that to consider. But the Yukon has a lot of power, a lot of function, and can be used to do a variety of jobs beyond just point-a to point-b.

When I award a full-on five-star rating, it's because I can't think of a way to make something better. So far, I haven't given a vehicle a perfect rating, but the 2015 GMC Yukon SLT gets closer than any other vehicle I've written about so far. From the city to the highway, I spent a lot of time with the Yukon, and it's an impressive and fun vehicle that I highly recommend for those in the market for a full-size SUV.

MSRP on the Model Driven at Rock Father HQ: $65,515.00

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THE ROCK FATHER RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

Further Disclosure: Obviously (as noted in the opening of this article), General Motors provided THE ROCK FATHER with a 2015 GMC Yukon - 4WD SLT for this review. All opinions are that of James Zahn, with influence from his children. Yep, he gets to drive around in new cars and trucks, and then share his thoughts on them for you. Pretty sweet, right? James doesn't accept cash for reviews - not how he rolls - but makes things very simple for all involved: Great Product = Great Review. Terrible Product = Terrible Review. Honesty, always. Horns Up! \m/ \m/

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade as Publisher of The Rock Father Magazine, he joined Adventure Publishing Group as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider—a destination for all things pop culture. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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