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My Family Owns a GMC Yukon Again, and All Is Right With the World

A while ago I wrote about how I will love Chevy Suburban and its GMC Yukon XL brother forever. The two trucks were integral parts of my family when I was growing up, taking us on countless road trips, helping my dad build his business, and accomplishing any task thrown at them without so much as a hiccup. We as a family all loved those trucks, often reminiscing about how great they were. Unfortunately, we haven’t had one in a while — until now. Thankfully, a 2003 GMC Yukon XL Denali has made it back to the fold, and all is right with the world again.

My dad had been using a 1996 Ford F-250 as a boat hauler, but it recently started showing symptoms of a terminal condition. My dad needed a new truck, so he started looking at Suburbans and Yukons, eventually settling on the one he bought.

The truck is a bit worn on the outside, with plenty of scuffs and occasional spots of rust in non-vital places — but that’s to be expected on a truck with 150,000 miles. The interior was in great condition for its age, with no tears in the seats or headboards, but rather just a bit of wear on the radio buttons. The biggest issues were the cracks in the windshield and a door mirror, along with an air-ride system that seemed broken.

None of these problems prevented the truck from passing Virginia’s safety inspection, though — and my dad has already replaced the air-ride compressor himself. Everything else seems completely peachy. The only downside is that he wasn’t able to find one with the rear clamshell doors, but those are exceedingly rare with the Yukon XL.

I’m excited for this truck to be a new part of the family, and my dad certainly is as well. He’s already having dreams of hauling the boat and family down to Hilton Head with it, and I’m completely down with the idea. By all measures, the truck looks like just as much of a road warrior as it was when it was new. Find a GMC Yukon XL for sale

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6 COMMENTS

  1. 150k is still semi-low for these undestroyable GM made brutes. They will make it well into the 300k mark.

  2. These and the Expeditions are just great vehicles. You get all of the full-size truck engineering that lesser models don’t get, and it shows in the longevity. I don’t think you can go too wrong with Ford or GM on one of these. I went with an Expedition EL myself, just because they are more passenger friendly and more easily configurable with how the third row seats work, but would have been happy in a GM too. Which I don’t say about many GMs…

  3. Love me some full size GM SUVs. Current owner of two—1999 and 2004. I considered an AWD model like this Denali, but opted for a 2500/8.1L. The Denali trim does look great though and has aged well in my opinion.

  4. how is the general reliability on these things? i’m looking for a 4wd in the $4k-$5k range for the winter / towing and am hesitant of GM / Ford products even though they seem to cost far less than their Japanese counterparts. horror stories of trailblazers come to mind. 

    • So far, this thing hasn’t done anything to make you think it wouldn’t be reliable. Powertrain-wise, it seems completely solid at 150k miles, and that is not out of the ordinary for these trucks. My dad even has dreams of going on 13 hour road trips while towing a boat with it, and he’s fairly skeptical of high-mileage vehicles. 

      My dad got it for a really good price ($3200) because the guy he bought it from wanted to sell it quickly and there were a couple of issues mentioned in the post that he’s been able to take care of because most things are easily accessible and bolt right on. He probably could turn it around and sell it now for at least $5k (if not more) with those problems addressed. 
      Essentially, the Yukon, Tahoe, Yukon XL, and Suburban are Chevy Silverados with a different body. They’re solid trucks, much more than a Trailblazer. The only real Japanese analogs to the Tahoe or Yukon are the Sequoia and the Armada, and there really isn’t anything that is Suburban/Yukon XL sized. 
      Do your research. If you want one for cheap, look for ones that look kind of bad on the outside but are otherwise solid. Find places where rust is detrimental (like the frame) and where it is more or less cosmetic. Also, if you do your own work, you’ll probably save a lot more. 
    • If you take care of them and buy a 5.3 V8 example of a gm full size suv. You can find  99 to 03 models well in your price range. Yes the trailblazer was a pos. But the full size gm lineup seems to run forever.  

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