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1996 YUKON SLT FOUR-DOOR SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE

by: CAREY and BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO: GMC Buyer's Guide

Sport-Utility vehicles are the hottest products in the automotive scene today. From humble utility beginnings, they are evolving rapidly and proliferating into many new niches. There are sport- utes for nearly every taste and budget. GMC Truck is well-positioned to take advantage of the SUV trend. It has been making sport-utility type vehicles since such machines were utility vehicles, strictly for hard, dirty work. GMC's newest offering is a 4-door version of the venerable Yukon. It is an SUV that wears its truck heritage with pride and is comfortable hauling family and groceries or taking a work crew to the back of beyond.

Although it has over a quarter-century of heritage, the current-generation Yukon platform was introduced in 1992. Up until the middle of the 1995 model year, all Yukons were two-door models. Since four-door SUVs have lead the way in mass-market acceptance of the genre, the 4-door Yukon should come as no surprise. It's a little longer than its 2-door sibling, and has more interior space. Passenger access to that interior is improved by the addition of rear doors, and, once inside, accommodations are first class. For 1996, all Yukon models have engine and transmission improvements, daytime running lights, long-life engine coolant, and other enhancements.

We drove a four-door, four-wheel drive, top-of-the-line Yukon SLT for a week in the urban jungle and suburban outback, as well as steep and muddy offroad mountain trails. It worked well everywhere.

APPEARANCE: The Yukon stands tall, and its two-box design is smoothly rounded and outfitted for a broad range of driving. Tow hooks in front, a trailer hitch in back, a luggage rack on top, and a large cargo capacity inside attest to its versatility. For those who don't intend to go very far off-road, running boards are available. The multi-purpose nature of the Yukon is illustrated by its appearance. Its stylish design is right at home in urban situations from carpooling the kids to school to taking your golf foursome to the country club, while its practicality puts it in the high county,r barren desert or seashore for a variety of outdoor sports.

COMFORT: The Yukon may have truck heritage but that doesn't mean it's a stagecoach. The climb up into the cabin is a long one, although assist handles and the available running boards ease the task. Once inside, the Yukon may be mistaken for a large, well-equipped car. There is no lack of room in any direction. The driver's seat, side mirrors, windows and door locks are power-operated. Seating surfaces are leather. The standard front bucket seats are comfortable in any driving situation. A very good split bench seat is optionally available. The rear seat is split 60/40 to fold down for any extra carrying capacity, and features a fold-down convenience console. Luggage capacity is helped no small amount by a spare tire that resides under the car, pickup truck-style. The instrument panel presents necessary information and allows easy access to the complete AM/FM/CD/cassette sound system, while the climate controls have under-the-seat rear outlets for the comfort of rear-seat passengers.

SAFETY: Standard safety equipment on the 4-door Yukon includes 4-wheel antilock brakes, a driver- side airbag, side-guard door beams, child safety locks on the rear doors, and daytime running lights.

ROADABILITY: Modern trucks have come as far in ride comfort and handling as they have in interior amenities. The Yukon is a good example. It is a classic modern truck in chassis specification with a body-on-frame design, independent front suspension and a solid axle mounted on leaf springs in the rear. All components work together to give a firm but quite comfortable ride that is devoid of harshness. The Yukon's high stance gives a commanding view of the road. Steering effort is light, with no play and good road feel.

PERFORMANCE: The Yukon has a new gasoline engine for 1996. The classic GM 350 cubic inch V8 has gotten sequential central port fuel injection, a new composite intake manifold, new exhaust and ignition systems, cooling system enhancements, and more. It is now called the "Vortec 5700 V8", and has 50 more horsepower and 25 more lb-ft of torque for increased performance. It has lower maintenance requirements than previous GMC V8 engines. It works well with the newly-enhanced 4- speed automatic transmission.

CONCLUSIONS: The GMC Yukon in 4-door form is a useful vehicle for many different folks. If it's still not big enough for your needs, there's always the Suburban.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1996 YUKON SLT FOUR-DOOR SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE

       Base Price             $ 30,406     
       Price As Tested (est)  $ 33,450
       Engine Type            V-8, sohc - 16v, scpfi** 
       Engine Size            5.7 liter/350 cid   
       Horsepower             250 @ 4600
       Torque (ft/lbs)        335 @ 2800
       Wheelbase/Length       118"/199"
       Transmission           four speed electronic automatic w/od
       Curb Weight            5150 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  20.6
       Fuel Capacity          30 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)
       Tires                  B F Goodrich Long Trail T/A 
                              P245/75R16 m+s
       Brakes                 disc/drum, ABS standard
       Drive Train            front engine/rear drive/on demand 4WD
       Towing Capacity        6500 lbs                 
       
       ** - sequential central point fuel injection
       
                    PERFORMANCE
       
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon
         city/highway/observed     12/15/12.8     
       0 to 60 mph                 10.4 sec
       1/4 mi (E.T.)               17.9 sec
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)   0.42

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