Used Car Review

2009 GMC Yukon: Used Car Review

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Used 2009 GMC Yukon AWD Denali
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author photo by Ron Sessions January 2017

A step up in terms of standard features from the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban are the 2009 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The full-size Yukon is about the same size as a Tahoe, while the 1.5-foot-longer Yukon XL matches the Suburban's length. The main difference is the ease of access to the available third-row seats and the amount of cargo space behind the rearmost seats. The smaller Yukon also fits more easily in the garage. Otherwise, the powertrain selections, suspension, steering and brakes are nearly identical. The Yukon is available as a standard-duty 1500 with rear coil springs or a heavy-duty 2500 with leaf springs.

GMC equips the Yukon and the Yukon XL with a full suite of standard safety systems, including OnStar automatic crash notification, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front airbags, front-seat side airbags, overhead airbags and tire-pressure monitoring. They can tote up to nine passengers. With the second-row seats and the available third-row seats folded, the Yukon can hold 108.9 cu ft. of cargo space, while the XL boasts 137.4 cu ft. Both rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and 4-wheel-drive (4WD) versions are offered. Maximum towing capacity is 8,200 pounds for the Yukon and 9,700 pounds for the XL. The standard 1500 series fuel tank holds 26 gallons.

The heavy-duty 2500 series offers higher payload capacity, 8-lug wheels, a Hydroboost brake system, a leaf-spring rear suspension and a larger 31.5-gallon fuel tank.

For 2009, a fuel-saving 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard with 5.3-liter and 6.0-liter V8 models as well as the 6.2-liter Denali V8, which also gets boosted to 403 hp and gains flex-fuel capability. Newly optional for 2009 is rearview-mirror display for the backup camera. Also new for 2009 is standard 3-row seating on all models, an integrated trailer brake controller, OnStar turn-by-turn navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio with NavTraffic.

Continuing for 2009 is a gas-electric hybrid version of the Yukon with a 6.0-liter V8 and dual electric motors.

What We Like

Seating capacity; interior quality; ride quality; towing capacity; comfortable first- and second-row seats; relatively good fuel economy; standard overhead airbags

What We Don't

No telescopic steering wheel; uncomfortable third-row seat; no fold-flat second- or third-row seats; tight second- and third-row ingress/egress; small climate-control buttons

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

Small-block V8s power all GMC Yukons. Standard on rear-wheel-drive Yukon SLEs is a 295-horsepower 4.8-liter V8. More common is the 320-hp 5.3-liter V8, which comes standard on all 4-wheel-drive Yukon SLEs, all Yukon SLTs and all Yukon XLs except the Denali. The 5.3-liter is also optional on rear-wheel-drive Yukon SLEs. Many 5.3-liter V8s are flex-fuel engines, meaning they can operate on regular unleaded gasoline, clean-burning E85 ethanol or any combination of the two. However, using E85 will cause fuel mileage to drop.

The 5.3-liter features Active Fuel Management, a cylinder-deactivation system that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when coasting or under a light load to save fuel at highway speeds. Because of that feature, the larger 5.3-liter gets about the same estimated mileage as the smaller 4.8-liter, approximately 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy.

Available on the Yukon XL is an optional 352-hp 6.0-liter V8. It's rated at 12 mpg city/17 mpg hwy.

The Yukon Denali's 6.2-liter V8 gains flex-fuel capability and power increases to 403 hp. The big attraction of the 6.2-liter engine is its 417 lb-ft of torque, not its 12 mpg city/18 mpg hwy fuel-economy estimates. The 2009 Denali is available with rear- or 4-wheel drive.

Continuing into 2009 is a hybrid version of the Yukon. Using an electrically variable transmission, it blends the thrust of a 6.0-liter gas V8 and two 60-kilowatt electric motors for a combined 332 hp. At low speeds, the Yukon hybrid can operate limited distances on electric power alone. Rear-drive EPA estimates are 21 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, while 4WD hybrids rank at 20 mpg city/20 mpg hwy. That's impressive mileage considering the SUV's near-6,000-pound curb weight.

All 2009 models except the base Yukon 4.8-liter V8 come with a 6-speed automatic transmission; the 4.8-liter still uses a 4-speed auto. All versions except the hybrid feature tap-up/tap-down gear selection on the column shifter, as well as a tow/haul mode that the driver can select for better flexibility and control of transmission shift points when dealing with heavy loads.

Standard Features & Options

The GMC Yukon is available in three trim levels: the base SLE, midlevel SLT and luxury Denali.

SLE standard equipment typically includes a cloth front bench seat with a fold-down armrest and a power driver's seat, air conditioning with both front- and rear-seat controls, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel with remote audio controls, OnStar, remote keyless entry, 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, and an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system. Also standard are a limited-slip rear differential, a trailer-hitch receiver, split fold-down second- and third-row seats, a security system, a trip computer, a rear wiper and washer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass, an outside-temperature display, variable intermittent wipers, automatic headlamps, power windows, power door locks and power heated mirrors.

Typical SLT trim adds standard leather seating, front bucket seats, automatic air conditioning, the 5.3-liter V8, fog lamps, rear-seat audio controls, sonar backup sensors, adjustable pedals, a garage-door opener and power front bucket seats. SLT optional features include a power lift gate, turn-signal-indicator mirrors, a sunroof, navigation, heated front and rear seats, a power front passenger seat, an auto-leveling suspension, a backup camera, a premium 9-speaker audio system, rain-sensing wipers and 20-in alloy wheels.

Upgrading to the Denali nets the 6.2-liter V8, 20-in alloys, real-time adjustable shocks, a heated and power adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shifter, heated front and rear seats, driver's-seat memory, a power front passenger seat, remote start, Bose 10-speaker premium audio with a 6-disc CD changer and SiriusXM, a power lift gate, rain-sensing wipers and power-folding second-row bucket seats.

Denali options include a blind spot monitoring system and power retractable side steps.


The GMC Yukon and Yukon XL have a strong following thanks to their trucklike durability, roominess, well-appointed cabins and carlike civility. Four-wheel-drive versions and Denali models fetch higher prices, especially in outlying areas, mountainous regions and northern climates.

For a good idea of the prices of used 2009 Yukons, check out the used-car values on You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The following safety recalls have been issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the 2009 GMC Yukon/Yukon XL:

In Yukon/Yukon XL models originally sold or ever registered in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the passenger front-airbag inflator may rupture during a crash due to long-term heat and humidity exposure, sending metal fragments into interior occupants and causing injury or death.

Water seeping into the fuel system control module may cause the engine to stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

On models equipped with an optional heated windshield-washer system or HotShot, a short circuit may overheat the washer system's electronics, possibly affecting other electrical features and creating an odor and smoke.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

In NHTSA testing, the 2009 Yukon received a 5-star rating for driver and passenger front-impact performance as well as side-impact performance, plus a 3-star rollover rating.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not crash-test the 2009 Yukon.

The 2009 Yukon featured a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty and 5 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

Other Cars to Consider

2009 Ford Expedition -- The base Expedition is slightly larger than the Yukon and offers more third-row seat space and cargo room, while the extended-wheelbase Expedition EL has passenger and cargo room to rival that of the Yukon XL. Both carry up to eight passengers. A 300-hp 5.4-liter V8 and a 6-speed automatic provide locomotion. The Expedition's independent rear suspension rides better than the Yukon's live rear axle.

2009 Toyota Sequoia -- Redesigned for 2008, Toyota's largest SUV features independent rear suspension for an improved ride. Based on the Tundra pickup, the 8-passenger Sequoia can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Engine choices remain a 276-hp 4.6-liter V8 or a lively 381-hp 5.7-liter V8.

Autotrader's Advice

We like the SLT trim, which comes with most of the standard features buyers want, including the 5.3-liter V8, power front seats, leather upholstery, automatic air conditioning and sonar backup sensors. Look for a 4-wheel-drive version if you live in a mountainous or snowy area or have to deal with unpaved roads. The trucks enjoy a high resale value and have a solid reputation for durability. Avoid customized Yukons with modified suspensions or oversize aftermarket wheels. Always get a car-history report before buying, and make sure any applicable recall repairs have been performed by a GM dealer.

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Used 2009 GMC Yukon AWD Denali
Used 2009 GMC Yukon
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2009 GMC Yukon: Used Car Review - Autotrader