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2007 GMC Yukon Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Steve Purdy Detroit Bureau

We have lots of work to do this week. We’ll be evaluating this big, freshly redesigned GMC Yukon, investigating the “Last Corvette,” trying to catch the elusive moon bow at Cumberland Falls, visiting the Corvette factory and museum in Bowling Green and perhaps tuning our golf games for the new season. We have so much work this week I’ve enlisted the contribution of my regular accomplice, Joe, whom you’ve met in previous narratives.

Our ride is the new for ’07 GMC Yukon SLT, a full-size sport-utility, sibling of the best-selling Chevrolet Tahoe and first cousin to Avalanche and Suburban. All have gotten rave reviews in the automotive press since the recent major redesign which vastly improved efficiency, sophistication and refinement. We’ve loaded our Yukon loosely with lots of stuff. Joe’s not known for packing lightly when he doesn’t absolutely have to. With golf clubs, tennis racquets, bags of reading material, hiking shoes and plenty of stuff we won’t need, we still have lots of room.

We didn’t even take the third row of seats out. We just folded them down. The two separate third row units come out smoothly by pulling on a handle and dragging them rearward, but they are very heavy. They don’t return to normal easily though. We can shove them back into their tracks but it’s a long reach to pull the backs up and we can get no leverage reaching in that far. We’ll just leave them folded down for this trip. The power lift tailgate, while a tad slow, is really slick and makes life easy.

Our initial impression on the first segment of our drive is favorable. The dash is rather busy and cluttered but not nearly like its predecessor. The Yukon is quiet, smooth and luxurious. GM has paid special attention to insulating all those nooks and crannies that transmit noise. The console between the front seats is generous but certainly not as flexible as some of its competitors. Our coffee is contained adequately and our snacks are handy so we’re off on another great adventure.

We pulled into the parking lot of the Pro Team in Napoleon, Ohio to have a tour and a look at what they’ve dubbed the “Last” Corvette. (See our accompanying story about the ’67 Big Block, million-dollar Vette called: “The Last Corvette”) The drizzle had stopped so we grabbed our cameras and note pads and briefly admired the styling of our steel gray metallic truck. The restyle that accompanies this major redesign is certainly evolutionary. There is no question of its GM heritage. Like the interior design the exterior has been softened and modernized. Very attractive, we agree.

After a late lunch at the Sports Bar across from the impressive old county courthouse in downtown Napoleon we took the back roads south through flat, fertile farm land with classic old farmsteads lining the straight paved two-lanes. We have a chance to examine the Mulrone sticker to see just what we have this week.

We have the 2007 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT. Base price is $38,365. The SLT package is $4,495 and includes leather seating throughout, 12-way power seats with heat and memory for both driver and passenger, three-zone automatic AC, AM/FM stereo with MP3 compatible 6-CD changer, XM radio with 3-months service, Bose speakers, universal remote, outside power folding mirrors with automatic dimming and integrated turn signals, rear parking assist, and luggage rack cross bars. The navigation system adds $2,145. Twenty-inch polished aluminum wheels are $1,795 extra and power sliding sun roof is $995. Rear seat entertainment system – essential for the kids – costs $1,295 and second row seat power release is $425. Power lift tailgate adds $350, rearview camera is $195 and heated windshield washer fluid is $85. Add that all up with an $875 destination charge and we’re looking at $51,020.

The list of standard equipment is rather impressive as well: lots of air bags (just like in Congress), ABS, 4-wheel disc brakes, full-size spare, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, OnStar, stability control, 17-inch wheels and tires, and all the other stuff we’ve become accustomed to in our upscale vehicles.

By the time we added up all the figures we were approaching our second destination - Cumberland Falls, Kentucky - where we hoped to get a view of the rare moon bow and do some serious hiking. (See our travel report called: “Search For the Moon Bow”) The parking lot was nearly full at the rustic and historic Dupont Lodge, a beautiful old stone and log lodge built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The fried catfish and the hiking were first rate but the moon bow remains elusive.

On the recommendation of an old fellow we met near the falls we took County Road 700 over to US27 then south to Tennessee Highway 63 on our way to Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, base of operations for the week. That route took about 2 hours and offered an incomparable test of the Yukon’s handling and performance, particularly the first 20 miles of tight, narrow curves through the foot hills. This “new generation of full-size SUVs,” as GM describes them, features a wider track (3-inches front and 1-inch rear), a tougher new truck frame, coil-over-shock front and 5-link independent rear suspension. Power rack-and-pinion steering and larger brakes with stiffer calipers to give a firmer feel and add to the Yukon’s refined character. Our Yukon felt like a big sports car as we made a spirited drive of it.

Fairfield Glade is a large golf resort on the Cumberland Plateau about an hour west of Knoxville, Tennessee. For all you golfers out there who read we’ve done a scholarly review of Stonehenge, the premier course at the Glade. (See our report called: “Golf At The Glade”) We felt right at home there since more than half the folks who live and play golf there are retired Michiganders and many of those are retired from the auto industry.

Our biggest job of the week is to make the 3-hour drive over to Bowling Green, Kentucky to explore the National Corvette Museum and the Corvette factory right across the street. (See our report called: “Corvettes, Old and New”) As usual, we took the back way, not the freeway. The roads were not as tight, narrow or challenging as our previous drive but they were still great fun. The Yukon’s power came into play more than its handling. The “anti-destination league” of old folks and slow trucks made us work for our nearly perfect timing - due at 10 am; arrived at 10:05. The Yukon is equipped with a traditional 5.7-liter V8, 2-valves/cylinder, hydraulic lifters and sequential fuel injection – fourth generation of GM’s venerable small-block. Active Fuel Management technology smoothly switches between eight-and four-cylinder operation to maximize power when we need it and minimize fuel consumption when we don’t. We could not feel the transition. Every bit of that 320 horsepower and 338 lb.ft. of torque is soaked up motivating the 5,537-lb of curb weight on hard acceleration. In fact the Yukon gets a bit raucous at higher rpms in passing mode. Only one transmission is available, GM’s hearty Hydra-Matic 4L60. More than once we thought another gear or two would be nice.

During this leg of the journey we filled the 26-gallon fuel tank - with regular fuel - for the third time since leaving home. The EPA estimates, and GM touts, a 15/21 mpg expectation. I don’t think we’re getting that. We’re averaging more like 17.5, but we have yet to spend a whole tank on the highway at the speed limit. Don’t ask me to elaborate, please.

On the long road home we managed to stay on the freeway most of the way, but to go just the speed limit we might have become a safety hazard. We were surprised at the overbearing speed enforcement in Kentucky along I-75, formerly a free flowing state. We encountered no fewer than three speeder stings, one with an officer hiding on the overpass with a radar gun pointing downstream. Two of his colleagues were chasing motorists down a mile or two upstream. Watch out. Kentucky is becoming the new Ohio, formerly known for oppressive enforcement.

So, for those of you who need, or want, a nice, big, sophisticated SUV, and a towing capacity of 7,700-lbs will meet your needs, take a look at these new GM products. We sure loved ours – for a week.

Links To: Corvettes, Good Eats, Fine Golf and Moon Bows and Waterfalls