First Drive: 2021 GMC Yukon AT4

 by Michael Satterfield

The all-new GMC Yukon has been one of the most anticipated vehicles of the 2021 model year, undoubtedly GM has a lot riding on the new Yukon and Yukon XL which shares its platform with the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, the most popular full-size SUV platform of all time. The chassis up redesign offers class-leading technology and a focus elevating the brand's luxury image by creating more differentiation between the standard Yukon and the Denali trim levels. 

The first-ever AT4 trim level, that I am driving, gives the Yukon increased off-road capability, adding front skid plate, hill descent control, a 2-speed AutoTrac transfer case, and 20" Goodyear All-Terrain tires, the reshaped bumper also gives it an approach angle of around 32-inches. The AT4 was first introduced on the GMC Sierra pickup in 2020 and will be the luxury off-road sub-brand soon to be offered across all models. 

Visually the AT4 appeals to me more than the Denali, it has a rugged, functional look, the only hints that it is special are the off-road-focused front bumper and the pop of red on the emblems and tow hooks. Inside it is all about luxury, black leather, heated and ventilated seats, a great sound system with wireless Apple Carplay, and a very smooth air-ride suspension that also allows the driver to raise the vehicle another 2 inches for extra ground clearance. 

My tester was powered by the 5.3-liter V8 which has 355hp, the 420hp 6.2-liter V8 is only reserved for the Denali. GMC has said that a 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel will be offered in the Yukon as an option in 2021. Driving the Yukon AT4 does give you a sense of its size, while it is only about one inch longer overall inside the designers have found over 2.2 cubic feet of more storage space and two inches of legroom for third-row passengers. 

I took the AT4 down some local dirt roads and fire trails and with the optional adaptive air ride suspension the ride was surprisingly smooth and comfortable even on rough trails and surfaces. In town, the AT4 drives like a luxury SUV on par with the most recent Range Rover I tested. It is not a stretch to say that GMC may have built the most capable luxury SUV you can buy.

All this luxury and performance does come at a price, with the base price of the 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 $66,095, the price as tested is $77,055, and add another $2,700 to the base price for the Yukon XL. But in the world of luxury SUVs, the GMC Yukon offers a lot of value. Comparing the GMC to the Ford Expedition Platinum 4X4 which starts at $78,780 and when comparably equipped to this Yukon AT4, comes in at $82,835. Turning to the import competition the 2021 Lexus LX 570 three-row starts at $91,580 while offering none of the true off-road capability of the GMC.