Edmunds expert review: Until very recently, the prospect of getting 21 mpg in a full-size, truck-based SUV would seem rather fanciful. Normally, you'd be hard-pressed to get 14 mpg in one of these over-5,000-pound beasts. Yet getting 50 percent better fuel economy without giving up a powerful V8, eight-passenger capacity and the ability to tow 6,000 pounds is exactly what the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid is all about.
A couple of years ago General Motors accomplished this with the debut of hybrid versions of its popular Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon twins. It got some help with the "two-mode" powertrain that was developed via a joint venture involving BMW, GM and the former DaimlerChrysler. Starting with GM's 6.0-liter V8 (with cylinder deactivation that can shut down four cylinders under light-load conditions), the system adds a pair of 60-kilowatt motors (packaged within the transmission) for electric motivation. The transmission is rather complex, as it is essentially like having two transmissions inside one -- a continuously variable drive unit for light load conditions and a standard four-speed fixed-gear type for high-load conditions.
To optimize its fuel efficiency, the Yukon Hybrid can move solely under electric power, under low-load conditions to speeds up to 25 mph. This is how its city fuel economy rating (21 mpg) manages to virtually match its highway estimate (22 mpg). To minimize the weight gain associated with all that hybrid hardware, GM utilized aluminum for several body panels and even slimmed down the seats. Strangely, the back-breaking-to-remove third-row seats didn't take part in the diet.
Though the 50 percent improvement in city fuel economy over a standard Yukon is impressive, the Yukon Hybrid has its downsides. One is shown on the sticker, where the numbers range from the low- to the mid-$50,000s – that's about $8,000 more than a fully loaded Yukon SLT. And there are also the powertrain components to consider, which add weight and complexity. We'll let you decide if the environmental benefits are worth it, but how green can a 5,600-pound SUV ever really be?
So, unless the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid's significant towing capabilities are important to you, a full-size crossover like the Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia is likely a better choice. They provide more usable passenger space, are friendlier to drive, get close to the same fuel economy and are considerably cheaper when fully loaded with options. You might also take a look at smaller but similarly priced diesel-powered three-row crossovers like the Audi Q7 TDI and BMW X5 xDrive 35d. 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
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