About a year ago, Oversteer was first launched to bring an enthusiast perspective to things here on Autotrader. Since then, things have occasionally gone off the rails. For example: I’m sure nobody ever expected to see a video of an idiot dancing around his Chrysler Lebaron. As we close in on the one year anniversary of Oversteer, I’ve decided to put my talents to slightly more practical use — this time in the form of a buyer’s guide for the 2007-2014 full-size General Motors SUV platform (the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade).
What prompted this review was the sad retirement of the family Denali, a 2007 GMC Yukon that’s been puttering us around since it was new. Back when I was an eager young car salesman, I sold the Cadillac and Chevrolet versions of these when they first launched, and I sold plenty more used during my time as a small used-car dealer. They were easy to sell new, even easier to sell used, and they rarely needed any unscheduled trips to the mechanic.
After a decade, the platform has aged remarkably well. General Motors went to great expense upping the quality in this generation of these SUVs, especially in regard to the interior. The styling does not feel dated, nor does any of the technology. There’s remarkably little difference between the touchscreen interface of a 2007 Yukon Denali and a more modern example.
While General Motors never intended these vehicles to be highly capable off-roaders, their massive size makes them perfect family haulers. The most powerful engine offered was a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, which is more than enough to blast around a slow-driving Prius — or tow just about anything.
Thanks to the magic of depreciation, it’s easy to find nice older examples of these great SUVs for under $20,000, which is a great value — especially considering that new, well-equipped Escalades can top six figures. But as with any used car, there are a few trouble areas to watch out for.
The most expensive potential issue comes from the 5.3-liter V8 engine, which is commonly found in the lower-trim Yukons as well as the Tahoe and Suburban. Longer oil change intervals are believed to cause problems with the top end of the engine. It’s usually associated with a ticking noise that gets progressively worse — and, if ignored, it can lead to catastrophic consequences. Some rhythmic ticking from the injectors is normal — the bad noise will be louder and usually more localized to one side of the engine.
Vehicles from coastal, as well as cold-weather, areas can have issues with corrosion. It’s easy to tell if one was subjected to harsh conditions by the exhaust manifolds, which can rust up so badly you’d think the parts were recovered from a 100-year-old shipwreck. These rusty manifolds will eventually start leaking, and they can be very difficult to replace.
A sloppy driveline is another thing to watch out for with an aging full-size GM SUV. The most common issue I found with these trucks is a clunk coming from the drivetrain when you first accelerate. Sometimes this is easily solved by replacing worn motor mounts or U-joints, but the early models can also have some slop in the transmission.
Finally, another big repair can come from the suspension. The higher trim models have an air or magnetic ride control system, both of which really enjoy lighting up dashboards with error messages. Most of the time a simple height sensor is acting up, but a full overhaul of this system can run thousands of dollars.
If your mind is starting to wander at this point, I totally understand — but that’s a good thing. There’s very little drama to note with the Yukon and its differently badged brethren, which is why they’re an excellent choice for a used family hauler. Of course, all of these items (and much more) would be checked during a prepurchase inspection, which I recommend everyone do before purchasing a used car without an extensive warranty. Unfortunately, I rarely follow my own advice, often with catastrophic results. Find a used Chevrolet Tahoe for sale or Find a used Chevrolet Suburban for sale or Find a used GMC Yukon for sale or Find a used Cadillac Escalade for sale