GMC Yukon Hybrid: Going green in a big SUV

February 14, 2009/Steve Tackett


The future will one day be filled with green and we’ll all live happily ever after. This is not a fairy tale. GMC is writing a new chapter in the advancing field of green technology.
I drove the automaker’s 2009 Yukon Hybrid, a full-size, 5,835-pound, eight-passenger, 4WD sport utility vehicle. With all we’re going through as a nation with an economic nightmare in general — and restless fuel prices in particular — I did not feel mortified to be driving around town in this huge SUV.
As I pulled up in stop-and-go traffic along Pennsylvania Avenue, I was hoping the drivers in the compact cars alongside me would surely see the “Hybrid” badging smacked around the exterior of the GMC’s body. In my mind I felt like I needed permission be navigating city traffic in this thing. The Hybrid badging would be my ticket to certain assurance from my fellow motorists that it was OK to be driving a big SUV.
GMC says the 2009 Yukon Hybrid gives its owners a dramatic step-up in fuel efficiency over non-hybrid SUVs — boasting of up to a 50-percent improved city mileage efficiency. My tester had an EPA certified sticker of 20 miles per gallon in the city. That’s pretty darn good.
Imagine getting 20 mpg in both city and highway driving from a half-ton truck with a 6.0-liter V-8 engine that can tow 6,000 pounds of trailer weight.

2009_ GMC Yukon Hybrid

It’s the green you’ve been dreaming of. The Yukon Hybrid 2WD is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway and can trailer up to 6,200 pounds. The SUV’s ground clearance is 9 inches.
General Motors is surely making Toyota bristle at the comparison GMC is making on the Yukon Hybrid V-8 to the darling Camry: Toyota’s 2.4-liter 158-horsepower four-cylinder sedan coupled to a five-speed automatic is also EPA-rated at 21 mpg city.
The Yukon Hybrid has a torque output of 367 lb.-ft. at 4,100 rpm and horsepower production of 332 at 5,100 rpm. The “hybrid” of the Yukon system is GM’s Electrically Variable Transmission that works in concert through an Energy Storage System with the V-8’s Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation).
The EVT is the key that makes the whole powerplant system more energy efficient. The EVT contains a Hybrid Optimizing System that monitors the powertrain, deciding on which of two modes to use in order to propel the vehicle: the electric power of the 300-volt ESS battery the gasoline engine — or even a combination of both electric and gas. GM is backing its battery pack ESS system with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.
So how much money does all this take? Not excluding the premium brand that GMC is to General Motors, the Yukon Hybrid is a pretty penny. The tester’s base price was $53,730. The destination charge ($950), and optional rear entertainment system ($1,295) and power sling sunroof ($995) brought the as-tested price to $56,970.
For this price several premium amenities are standard, such as Bluetooth, leather appointments, navigation system, rearview camera, XM satellite radio with a Bose sound system, power liftgate and heated sideview mirrors.
The body-on-frame Yukon Hybrid offers a quiet ride, a functional interior for cargo and passengers capabilities and a unique hybrid gauge instrumentation cluster. The Yukon is shod with low-rolling resistance 18-inch tires. The hybrid economy gauge is a message center that communicates to the driver on the efficiency of his or her driving style. It’s like having a personal tutor instruct you on how to tread lightly and drive a little greener.

Next week: 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5
Next 3-Pack: 2010 Mercury Milan

Hybrid display screen

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 8-passenger 4WD SUV
BASE PRICE___________________ $53,730 (as tested: $56,970)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ OHV V-8 w/electric hybrid transmission
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 6.0-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 332 at 5100 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 367 at 4100 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 4-speed EVT
WHEELBASE____________________ 116 in.
TRACK (front/rear)___________ 68/67 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 202 in.
OVERALL WIDTH________________ 79 in.
HEIGHT_______________________ 77 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 39 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 5,835 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 25 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 20 mpg city, 20 mpg highway

Yukon Hybrid_ IP

Spare Parts
2010 BUICK LACROSSE: Redesigned from the ground up, the 2010 Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan offers all-wheel drive, a suite of advanced intelligent personal technologies and safety features, and a choice of two fuel-saving V-6 engines. Buick design is now a product of a global team and resources. Creative collaboration between designers in the United States and China, in partnership with the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, as well as chassis and body engineers in Europe, has resulted in the first General Motors vehicle to be created on three continents.
USED DOING WELL: Certified Pre-Owned vehicles carried momentum from December into the New Year, proving to be a positive sign for the auto industry in a difficult environment. It was the best January on record for CPO sales, according to Autodata Corp. There were 140,803 CPO units sold during the month, marking a 10-percent upswing from a year ago, Autodata noted. (Source: Auto Remarketing)
AUTO JOBS: President Barack Obama has voiced support for $2 billion in advanced battery research funding. “It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match.” Obama faces a key decision on appointment of an auto czar or team of auto officials. (Source: The Detroit News)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009

Yukon Hybrid towing