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2018 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2018 GMC Yukon: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Chris O'Neill July 2018

Long two of the most popular options in the large SUV segment, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are, at their cores, the same vehicle. The two even share a Wikipedia page. Built on the same platform that underpins the Suburban, Yukon XL, Escalade and Escalade ESV, the Tahoe and Yukon are two of GM's bread and butter SUVs, serving families, livery services, rental car agencies and police forces across America.

While Chevrolet should need no explanation, GMC's purpose may be a little less clear. Historically, GMC has existed to give General Motors' traditionally car-heavy brands a line of trucks and SUVs to sell at their dealerships. As many of these brands faded away, and others, like Chevrolet, now sell SUVs themselves, GMC has reinvented itself as a slightly upscale, 'tougher' alternative to the more 'mainstream' truck offerings of Chevrolet.

This is essentially the dynamic between the Tahoe and Yukon. They both offer trim levels ranging from entry level to luxurious, but the Yukon's entry level and luxury trim levels are just a little nicer than those of the Tahoe. This is also evidenced in their price tags. Despite being very similar, the Tahoe starts at around $48,000, while the Yukon starts at just over $53,000. This is mainly due to the GMC coming with more standard equipment. The Tahoe tops out at around $75,000, while the Yukon Denali rings in at around $80,000 in fully-loaded configuration. To sum it all up:

  • GMC Yukon offers more standard equipment

  • Chevrolet Tahoe is available with sporty RST package

  • GMC Yukon is available in upscale Denali trim

Nevertheless, below we'll outline for you the major shared attributes of both the Tahoe and Yukon, and we'll discuss the differences between the two that justify the Yukon's higher price and potentially help a buyer decide which of these large GM SUVs is right for them.

Exterior

Outside, the major styling differences between the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are quite clear. The vehicles' front fascias are entirely different. The Tahoe wears a more streamlined look, with a black grille and low-profile headlights. The Yukon's front end is perhaps more stately in appearance. Its grille is rounded, and its headlights more upright. The two vehicles are sold with a variety of different wheels. Around back, the Tahoe's D-pillar is painted body-color, while the Yukon's is black. Additionally, the two large SUVs wear different taillights. The Tahoe's are a more-traditional red, while the Yukon's feature both red and clear elements.

The Yukon differentiates itself through its luxurious Denali trim level, which introduces a chrome grille and unique 20-inch wheels. The Tahoe's boldest offering is the Premier trim-level, fitted with the sporty RST package, which comes with its own unique 20-in wheels and towing features like an integrated trailer brake, black bowtie emblems front and back and other stylistic touches.

Interior

Inside, the two vehicles are virtually identical. Entry level models come with cloth seating, while leather is included with every other trim level. Both the Tahoe and Yukon offer three rows of seating with room for up to eight people. Upper trim levels replace the 3-person bench seat found in entry level models with captain chairs for two, reducing the vehicle's overall seating capacity from eight to seven.

Cargo room is identical as well. Both offer 15 cu ft. of storage behind the third row, 52 cu ft. with the third row folded and 95 cu ft. with both the second and third rows folded.

Mechanicals

The Tahoe and Yukon are both available with rear- and all-wheel-drive and offer two engines. The base engine is a 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, good for 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway, 19 mpg overall with rear-wheel drive or 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined when equipped with all-wheel drive. An optional 6.2-liter V8 making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque is available on both vehicles and earns 14 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, or 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined with all-wheel drive

Th 5.3-liter is mated to a 6-speed automatic, while the 6.2-liter comes with a 10-speed auto.

The 5.3-liter gets the SUV from 0-to- 60 in 7.2 seconds. When equipped with the more powerful 6.2-liter, both the Tahoe and Yukon hustle from 0-to-60 in 5.8 seconds; quite fast for a 5,600lb behemoth of an SUV.

Both the Yukon and Tahoe are available with GM's great Magnetic Ride Suspension.

In basic guise, both the Tahoe and Yukon can tow up to 6,400 lbs with AWD or 6,600 with RWD, but opt for the trailering package and these figures both jump by 2,000 lbs to 8,400 and 8,600 lbs, respectively.

Features

Both the Tahoe and Yukon are available with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, power retractable running boards, a power liftgate, a sunroof, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, active noise-cancelling sound deadening technology and power-folding second and third row seats, among other amenities.

Technology

Both the Tahoe and Yukon come standard with an 8-in infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with 4G LTE supporting mobile Wi-Fi. Chevrolet's MyLink and GMC's IntelliLink infotainment systems are identical, save for color schemes. The system is intuitive and generally regarded as being among the best on the market.

Safety

Neither the Tahoe nor the Yukon have been crash tested by the independent third party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, although National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing revealed a rollover risk worthy of only three out of five stars.

Both the Yukon and Tahoe offer a comprehensive suite of driver assistance features, with available adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, front parking sensors, rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic monitoring.

Quality

The reliability of both the Tahoe and Yukon should be about average. As these are highly popular, American-made SUVs, parts should be readily available and service easy to come by. Both offer a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile term of roadside assistance.

Conclusions

There's very little that's different between the Tahoe and Yukon. The main differences boil down to standard equipment, presentation and the fact that you buy one at a Chevrolet dealer and the other at a GMC dealer.

Where GMC really sets itself apart from Chevrolet is through its luxurious Denali sub-brand. First introduced in 1999 as a new top-tier trim level for the Yukon, the Denali brand has become synonymous with GMC and is now available as the top trim-level on all GMC passenger vehicles. The popularity of the Denali brand has helped GM to position GMC products as more "upmarket" offerings than their counterparts from Chevrolet.

That said, while many will be enticed by the aura of the Denali brand, a 2018 Tahoe can be optioned essentially the same way as a 2018 Yukon Denali. The 2018 Tahoe is available with the same 6.2-liter V8 found in the Denali, GM's excellent magnetic ride control system and all of the excellent infotainment and driver assistance features offered on the Yukon. There really aren't any features that are exclusive to either the Yukon or Tahoe. In the end, it really comes down to which one looks better to you, and which one is offering better dealer incentives at the time of purchase.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2018 GMC Yukon: What's the Difference? - Autotrader