2021 GMC Yukon AT4
Class: Large SUV
Miles driven: 647
Fuel used: 41.0 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 15.7 mpg
Driving mix: 35% city, 85% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 16/20/18 (mpg city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $64,800 (not including $1295 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: AT4 Premium Plus Package ($9145), Satin Steel Metallic paint ($495), second-row heated bucket seats ($370), power-sliding center console ($350) AT4 Premium Plus Package Savings (-$1000)
Price as tested: $75,455
The great: Cavernous room for both people and cargo; pleasant road manners for such a large vehicle
The good: Long list of standard and available features; satisfying acceleration
The not so good: Extra-large dimensions can make close-quarters maneuvering a challenge
Your friends here at Consumer Guide have made this point before, but it bears repeating: You can tell that a vehicle type has gained broad mainstream appeal when manufacturers can market new specialty models hailed for their ability to do what it was once assumed they all did by nature.
The 2021 Yukon AT4, a newcomer to GMC’s clan of large body-on-frame SUVs, is such a model. Much is made of the fact that the AT4 is specially equipped to be off-road capable—which is what all Yukons (and similar SUVs) were presumed to be before they were turned into high, wide luxury station wagons more at home in urban rush hours than in up-country leisure time.
Now the fine folks who also bring you the $73,000-plus Yukon Denali are selling a “roots” SUV outfitted with a lower-front section and skid plate shaped to increase obstacle approach angle to nearly 32 degrees, red front recovery hooks, and all-terrain tires on model-specific 20-inch alloy wheels. The sole engine choice is a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque breathing through a heavy-duty air filter, and hooked to a 10-speed automatic transmission. An “Autotrac” automatic 2-speed transfer case with shift-on-the-fly capability is standard, as is hill-descent control—all for $66,095 to start, including delivery.
In these respects, the AT4 is GMC’s match for the $60,495 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71, but they differ in more than just grillework. For instance, the AT4 comes with Magnetic Ride Control that constantly changes damping calibrations based on road conditions and a heated steering wheel, both of which cost extra on the Chevy. The Jimmy’s leather front seats, Jet Black with AT4-exclusive Brandy accents, aren’t only heated but ventilated too—the latter a touch that isn’t even available for the Z71. Certain options like torque-channeling Active Response 4-wheel drive and a 15-inch head-up display are precluded from the Chevy, too. Distinct black-chrome accents round out the AT4’s exterior.
Like all ’21 Yukons and Yukon XLs (and, for that matter, the Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans that share Consumer Guide “Best Buy” status with them), the AT4 features a longer wheelbase and body, and a new independent rear suspension. Gains in passenger and cargo room spring from both of those developments. Roomy seating—even in the third-row—is augmented by as much as 122.9 cubic feet of cargo space on a large, flat cargo floor. That’s helpful for taking along everything you need when getting away from it all.
With Magnetic Ride Control that reads the road up to 1000 times a second and the optional adaptive air suspension that came in the test truck’s Premium Plus Package, the AT4 rides and handles about as impressively as its tonier siblings that we’ve tested. It acquitted itself extremely well on snow-filled streets during an intense stretch of Chicago winter.
Power delivery from the 5.3-liter V8 and 10-speed trans is smooth and abundant. With the Max Trailering Package, an AT4 can tow as much as 8200 pounds. “Dynamic Fuel Management” permits the engine to run on two, four, six, or all eight cylinders based on power need. EPA estimates for the AT4 are 16 mpg in city driving, 20 mpg on the highway, and 18 combined. Our experience with this powerteam in the AT4 and Z71 show those projections to be fairly accurate.
The overall look and feel inside is much more utilitarian than in the Denali, but access to many of its technology and convenience features, either as standard or optional equipment, should head off thoughts of buyer’s remorse. The GMC Infotainment system and tri-zone automatic climate control are straightforward in operation. Storage for personal items is abundant.
The buying public’s desire for rugged vehicles with family car attributes changed the sport-utility vehicle over time. The GMC Yukon AT4 can remind some of that customer base of what it’s been missing.
2021 GMC Yukon AT4 Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)