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2015 GMC Yukon is whisper quiet, luxurious and powerful

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The all-new 2015 GMC Yukon has been re-designed pretty much from the ground up, inside and out - according to GMC -to provide more power, refinement, convenience and capability than ever before – and yes, they mention quieter as well. Following a full week behind the wheel of a brand spanking new 2015 Yukon 2WD SLT – we would tell them great job on the all of the attributes except quieter.

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For the quieter - as defined by the absolutely whisper quiet cabin – we say bravo. The new Yukon is not only the quietest SUV in the segment, but it likely rivals the quiet levels of very high end luxury sedans costing well into six-figures.

All of the ‘new’ in the 2015 GMC Yukon is worthy of more discussion. But we really want to focus on the quiet of the cabin that – coupled with the ambience of its design elements and convenience features – makes a road trip in the Yukon a significant driver or passenger friendly experience.

GMC engineers considered it a major objective to make their latest GMC Yukon vehicles the quietest in the segment. Those engineers took several approaches to meet that goal beginning with constructing a boxed frame that is 75 percent high-strength steel and connected to the body cabin with new ultra high-strength shear-style mounts that act as shock absorbers and noise dampeners.

New inlaid doors fit into the side allowing for new and tighter fitting triple sealed doors that include an acoustic water deflector that is connected to the frame seals and they even added seals around the latch and outside door handles. Added to that are acoustic baffles in the door headers, acoustic laminated door glass and windshield plus other acoustic treatments in the headliner, hood blanket, wheel-house liners, dash mats on the side and front of the dash and fender-to-body baffles. GMC even went so far as to shape and acoustically seal the exterior mirrors to kill any exterior wind noise.

We kid you not when we tell you that the only way we knew our test Yukon had started and was running was by checking the gauges or rolling down a window. The new 2015 Yukon is that quiet - standing still or running around town or out on the highway.

For the record, our test 2015 GMC Yukon 2WD SLT had a base MSRP of $53,735. With packages, options, accessories and delivery – the final price was $62,315. Our SLT came in the very rich looking (optional for $995) White Diamond Tricoat exterior finish accented with nicely crafted Side Assist Steps. It had the premium Cocoa/Dune interior with brushed aluminum and premium wood trim accents.

The 2015 GMC Yukon is powered by the all-new 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine with Active Fuel Management which seamlessly shifts between 8-cylinder and 4-cylinder operation depending on power requirements when driving. The engine produces 355 horsepower with 383 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission for the Yukon is the 6L80 six-speed automatic. This power train is fuel-economy rated at 16/23 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 18 mpg. During our week long test, we averaged 17.8 mpg combined and, on a 100 mile highway road trip, averaged 22.7 mpg.

Some of the notable standard features on the Yukon SLT included Automatic Locking Rear Differential, Front and Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone and Lane Departure Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Safety Alert Driver Seat, Rear Camera with Cross Traffic Alert, Stabilitrak Electronic Stability and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. And, of course, it comes with OnStar.

It also had Halogen Projector Headlamps, Front Fog Lamps, Rain Sensing Wipers, Power Heated Outside Mirrors, Passive Remote Keyless Entry plus Remote Vehicle and Push Button Start, Luggage Rack Siderails and Power Lift Gate with Programmable Height feature. Infotainment was provided through the standard Bose Premium Surround Sound System integrated with GMC Intellilink, and included - with other features – multiple USB ports and power outlets including 110-volt 3-prong plugs, SmartPhone integration, Bluetooth with Audio Streaming and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Other features were a 4.2-inch Driver Information Display in the IP, Tri-zone Automatic Climate Control, Heated Leather Covered Steering Wheel with Controls, Power Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column, Perforated Leather Appointed Power Front Bucket Seats with both heating and cooling and Third Row 60/40 Power Fold-Flat Seating.

Packages and options on our test Yukon SLT began with the Sun & Entertainment Package ($3,255) which added the Power Sun Roof, Audio System with 8-inch Color Touch Display and Navigation with GMC Intellilink and a Rear Seat Blu-Ray Entertainment System with 9-inch screen. Other options included the very smart looking 20-inch Polished Aluminum Wheels ($1,400), Second Row Power Fold and Tumble Bucket Seats ($590) and a Theft Deterrence System ($395).

The 2015 Yukon looks so good and drives so nicely that one almost forgets that - with the Max Trailering Package ($450) that adds a 3.42 Rear Axle, Trailer Brake Controller and upgrades the standard Premium Smooth Ride Suspension - this Yukon SLT has a tow capacity of up to 8,300 pounds that is enhanced with Hill Start Assist, Tow/Haul Mode, Trailer Sway Control and Auto Grade Braking.

Our only negative on the new Yukon is that the third row seating is only just big enough (legroom) for small children and the cargo space behind the seat is a meager 15.3 cubic feet. We found it barely wide enough for a bag of groceries and, if you don’t use the cargo net, things like a watermelon will surely roll out when you open the rear lift gate (yes, I lost a very good watermelon on this test drive).

The new GMC Yukon comes in two models, Yukon and Yukon XL. Trim levels are SLE and SLT. and both also come in the luxury Denali trim level. Both are three-row SUV’s that can haul up to nine passengers, but we would tell you, if you need to routinely use the three rows for passengers – especially if they are past the children stage – go with the Yukon XL. It has a 14-inch longer wheelbase and is 20-inches longer overall, which, importantly increases the third row seating leg room from 24.8 to 34.5-inches and almost triples cargo capacity behind the third row to a very functional 39.3 cubic feet.

Our recommendation of the Yukon for you has two parts. If you are a young family or just a couple, the Yukon SLT in a 2WD will do just fine for you. Yukon comes both 2WD and in a 4WD. Unless you live in an area where 4WD makes driving easier in winter, we do not recommend spending the extra $3,000 to get the 4WD. But we do like the extra standard or optional features included in the SLT (MSRP $54,735) when compared to the entry level SLE (MSRP $46,335) – so would make that choice in a heartbeat.

If you are routinely hauling up to nine persons and they are more adult size, the convenience of the extra leg room (and 28 percent more cargo room) in the Yukon XL will be well worth the $2,700 premium for the XL (MSRP $57,435).

Since we know you will ask – the Yukon Denali (the top-of-the-line trim level) has a very nice range of extra refinement and convenience features over the SLT. But a Denali does come with nearly an $8,000 premium over the SLT. If you are not needing the cache of the Denali name in your garage (with some genuine upgrades from SLT), the Yukon SLT or Yukon XL SLT should make you very happy.

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