|122.9||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||94.7|
|Dual 12.6-inch||Rear Screens||Single 9-inch|
The GMC Yukon has long been one of the most capable premium SUVs on the market, and with an all-new generation for the 2021 model year, it has just gotten even better. In comparing the 2021 GMC Yukon vs 2020 GMC Yukon, you will find all of the basic features that gave this SUV its character have gone unchanged. The new Yukon still offers three rows of seats, a powerful V8 engine, and a rugged body on frame construction. Instead, GMC has focused on improving the capability and comfort of the new generation. The most significant change was the introduction of a new independent rear suspension, which improved ride quality and handling while also freeing up space for a more comfortable third-row and much larger cargo area.
Another noticeable upgrade to the new 2021 Yukon is a complete overhaul of the infotainment, adding larger and higher resolution screens as well as doubling the number of screens available to passengers in the back and better integrating the rear and front infotainment systems. Finally, the 2021 Yukon adds brand new options for a powerful diesel engine and an advanced air suspension system for superior performance in all-terrain. These mechanical improvements are further enhanced by the new Yukon AT4 trim level and its off-road performance upgrades from skid plates to tow hooks. Altogether, comparing the 2021 GMC Yukon vs 2020 GMC Yukon, you will find that the new SUV is an all-around improvement that significantly enhances the versatility, capability, and comfort of an already top-notch vehicle.
The single most significant difference between the 2021 GMC Yukon and the 2020 GMC Yukon is the much greater capacity of the new vehicle. Not only is the new Yukon half a foot longer than the outgoing model, but GMC has rearranged the interior to make even better use of the available space. By replacing the solid rear axle of the 2020 Yukon with a more modern independent rear suspension setup, GMC was able to significantly lower the rear floor of the 2021 Yukon and create more space for passengers and cargo.
The effects of these changes are dramatic and will be noticed the moment you open the doors and climb inside. While the 2020 Yukon offers just 39” of legroom for the second row and a cramped 24.8” for the third row, the 2021 Yukon now sports 42” of second-row legroom and even the third row now enjoys nearly 35” of legroom. This makes the new 2021 Yukon a legitimate three-row SUV instead of a two-row SUV that has some extra seats in the back for small children or emergencies.
Further, the greater interior room of the new model also means far more cargo space. While the 2020 Yukon topped out at 94.7 cu ft when both rows of rear seats were folded down, the larger 2021 Yukon now offers an enormous 122.9 cu ft of cargo space. Incredibly, this is actually more cargo space than the extended-length 2020 Yukon XL, even though that SUV is over a foot longer than the 2021 Yukon.
And as well as being far more massive, the cargo area in the 2021 Yukon is also a bit more usable thanks to its flatter cargo floor. While the floor of the old 2020 Yukon was sloped at a 7-degree angle, the floor of the new Yukon has an almost level, 3 degrees of slope. The secure storage of the 2021 Yukon has also been improved. Instead of the small compartment hidden behind the infotainment screen in the 2020 Yukon, the new model offers a power-operated sliding center console concealing a storage area. When the console is returned to position and the key removed from the vehicle, the hidden compartment is virtually impossible to access.
One thing that has always set GMC apart from the competition is the technology in its vehicles. This is true of both the 2021 GMC Yukon and the 2020 GMC Yukon. However, the new SUV takes technology to another level with several brand new features. Perhaps the most apparent change is a complete revamping of the infotainment screens for the new model. The old 8” touchscreen of the 2020 Yukon has been replaced with a much larger 10.2” touchscreen, providing a better view when using critical functions such as the backup camera or navigation. Technology has also been used to improve Driver awareness in other ways. These include an upgraded class-leading 15” multicolor heads-up display and a new rear camera mirror that shows camera views in the rearview mirror to give a better picture of what is occurring around the vehicle.
However, not only has the central infotainment been upgraded, but the optional rear-seat entertainment system has also received a complete overhaul. In the 2020 Yukon, passengers in the back have a single 9” screen that folds down from the ceiling. Aside from the relatively small screen size, the functionality of this older system is mainly limited to watching DVDs. For the new 2021 Yukon, the rear seats now have a full infotainment system based around a pair of 12.6” seatback touchscreens. These are full 1080p HD LCDs that offer improved resolution as well as size.
Further, they are fully independent, allowing the rear seat passengers to access different media instead of being forced to share a single movie. But perhaps most valuably, the rear screens are now integrated with the main infotainment system. This allows the rear-seat passengers to select music or even act as navigators, choosing destinations, and sending them to the front infotainment screen so that the driver can pay attention to the road.
The standard engine options for the 2021 GMC Yukon remain unchanged from those of the 2020 Yukon. The SLE and SLT trims of both generations come with a 5.3L V8 producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, while the top Denali trim has a larger 6.2L V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The standard ten-speed transmission with its 3.23 rear axle ratio is also shared by both models.
However, GMC has cleaned up the interior of the 2021 Yukon by replacing the old steering column-mounted shift lever with a new dashboard-mounted push-button shifter. And while shifting with buttons may seem awkward at first, after a bit of practice, the new system is more precise and offers more positive feedback. But the different gear shifter is a much smaller change in comparison to the newest engine addition.
This addition of a brand new diesel engine option is the first time that a diesel has been available on the GMC Yukon since the production of the first generation of the SUV ended 20 years ago. The new diesel engine is a 3.0L Duramax inline-6 delivering 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. This engine is an option on all trims of the 2021 Yukon and comes paired with the same ten-speed automatic transmission as the gasoline engines.
Aside from the new engine, the 2021 Yukon also has a variety of smaller mechanical upgrades and options that are not available on the 2020 Yukon. The most significant is, of course, is the new independent rear suspension that replaces the solid rear axle that is found on the 2020 Yukon. By moving to a multi-link suspension, GMC has improved the ride quality and handling of the Yukon without sacrificing any performance.
Another major suspension upgrade is the introduction of an optional air suspension system that can adjust the ride height of the 2021 Yukon by 4”. This adjustment can be performed manually or can be programmed to occur automatically, depending on the situation. For instance, the Yukon can automatically lower itself when placed in park to make exiting the SUV easier. The air suspension will be an option on the Yukon Denali and standard on the new Yukon AT4 off-road trim. Finally, the 2021 Yukon offers a new Active Response 4WD system. This improved four-wheel drive setup includes an electronic limited-slip differential and can better adjust torque to keep all four wheels moving no matter the terrain. The 2020 Yukon has excellent performance as well, but if you want the latest and greatest, the 2021 model is very enticing.