If you or someone you know has a full-size, body-on-frame SUV, chances are very good that it's a GM product. A 75% chance, actually -- that's GM's share of the market right now. GM has essentially stood pat on the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade since 2007, and so has the remaining competition.
Full-size body-on-frame SUVs seemed like they were on their way out, until GM revamped the platform that underlies both their SUV and full-size pickup (Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra). Rather than a quick polish on the SUV, GM has undertaken a complete makeover -- new exterior, new interior, and new powertrain -- to create a new generation of full-size body-on-frame SUV.
I recently got a chance to drive the new 2015 Chevrolet and GMC versions -- Cadillac will follow soon. Each brand gets two wheelbase models -- the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon share a 116" wheelbase and are 204" long; the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon XL ride on a 130" wheelbase and are 224.4" long.
As expected, that results in more legroom in the second and third rows for the Suburban and Yukon XL, and lots more luggage and cargo space. The big change from the previous generation for all four vehicles is that the third row now folds into the floor, leaving a flat load floor -- no more lugging those heavy third row seats in and out of the vehicle, and no more worrying about somebody breaking in and stealing them, either. Upper trim levels get power controls for the third row, and even get power fold and flip for the second row.
Other notable changes across the lineup include aluminum construction on the hoods and tailgates for significant weight reduction, and inlaid doors for better aerodynamics, fit and finish and lower wind noise. There was a lot of emphasis on aerodynamic improvement, which has also resulted in a lower minimum ground clearance. GM says that very few owners ever took their SUVs off-road anyway, even if they were in the 70% of owners who ordered up four-wheel drive. It's something to be aware of if you are one of the 30%.
All of the new SUVs get a new engine: GM's 5.3-liter Ecotec3 V8 (355 hp/383 lb-ft). The high zoot Denali trim level on Yukon and Yukon XL comes with a 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp/460 lb-ft). Both engines are fueled with direct injection technology, and use variable valve timing and active fuel management. Fuel economy figures are improved over the outgoing generation, up to 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the 2WD 5.3 and 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway for the 2WD 6.2. Knock off one mpg for 4WD across the board. A six-speed automatic transmission does yeoman's duty.
Continue Reading:2015 GM SUV Line Up Comes Out Swinging>>