2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4×4 Review – The most intimidating hybrid on the road today

Expert Reviews GMC

By Twain Mein

2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4HY


  • Very smooth ride
  • Plenty of power
  • Yep-18 miles per gallon


  • Expensive
  • Susceptible to winds
  • WIDE

This is GM’s bold entry into the Hybrid SUV market. At first glance, the all black beast was intimidating yet “friendly” with its hybrid decals plastered about. What would it be like?

Driving Impressions
There is pretty much nothing as intimidating as GM’s class of SUVs, the Yukon/Tahoe and Suburban. They’re huge and stereo-typed for being gas-guzzlers, but also luxurious. What about one that says “HYBRID”? How would people react? I have to say, I was driving around with a grin, wondering what people would think of this nearly 3 ton dichotomy. I did notice puzzled looks from other people on the roads. I even accosted a Prius driver in the company parking lot who concluded that a hybrid version was a better choice—if you chose an SUV in the first place. I even showed it to my sister and her equally Eco-minded friends who, like her, have 2 kids and a dog; they were fascinated and seemed almost guilty that they really like the concept of a huge SUV with hybrid efficiency. It was as if they’d been conditioned to dislike these beasts though secretly liking the utility.

GM has really perfected this platform. Very solid—at 5,840 pounds according to Car and Driver, it better be. The Yukon has great fit and finish with luxurious materials throughout the cabin. Overall, it’s very impressive.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
I was impressed by the gorgeous interior of the Yukon Hybrid. The dash is well laid out; controls are easy to understand and use (much better than the Acura MDX). And there is the awesome back-up camera. Very useful when maneuvering a vehicle that has the dimensions of a water buffalo.

Unfortunately, the headphones for the DVD player did not work (the massively thick owner’s manual suggested low batteries but I did not try replacing them). Regardless, I ran the DVD audio through the car speaker system to the absolute delight of my 5 year old.

gmc yukon hybrid - center console gmc yukon hybrid - DVD rear seat entertainment system gmc yukon hybrid - wireless headphones and remote

The driver’s seat never felt truly comfortable to me; for some reason, my pants kept riding up and I couldn’t find a position to alleviate that.

There is also no “dead pedal”—and because the interior is so wide, you sort of feel lost without that additional thing to brace against.

The biggest drawback, though, is the 2nd row seat. For such a massive auto, there is less knee and leg room than the Toyota Hybrid. This seems inexcusable. Further, the pillar that separates the front row from the second row is huge; this creates a narrow opening that is awkward to climb in to and negotiate between the front seats and the rear.

gmc yukon hybrid - 2nd row leg room gmc yukon hybrid - 2nd row leg room gmc yukon hybrid - rear cargo area

This vehicle did not have the 3rd row seats installed, though I have driven others with them. The third row is very difficult to get in to with a bench second row. It is also cramped and not suitable for adults. Cargo room is impinged upon in the rear by massive side bolsters. Yukon/Tahoe have large interior space not because of length but because of width and depth. This is not always useful when hauling long items.

The 2-mode hybrid system of the Yukon/Tahoe combines a 6.0 liter V-8 with 332hp/367lb-ft of torque gas motor with two 80 hp/118 lb/torque electric engines. On paper, that’s over 500 pounds of torque! In practice, there was plenty of pep. However, when merging onto freeways at full throttle, there seems to be a lag at 4200 rpm as it looks for the next gear. This is odd because the Yukon employs a dual transmission; CVT under normal circumstance with a manual transmission for towing. Around town, there was plenty of torque and it was easy to, ahem, get it sideways, with aggressive acceleration.

Most importantly, I got 17.5 – 19 MPG during the test period with an 18 MPG average. That is absolutely impressive.

gmc yukon hybrid - towing a trailer 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4HY gmc yukon hybrid - 6L V8, 2-mode hybrid

The side profile of the Yukon has as much surface area as a billboard advertising the next truck stop, such that it is annoyingly susceptibility to cross-winds. When waiting for turn lights and traffic whizzing past, the boat, uh Yukon, would move from side to side. I didn’t notice it too much while driving but I wouldn’t want to be on a windy freeway with semis passing by. I’ve never felt this much movement from any car, ever.

The Yukon is also a very wide vehicle. Parking requires extreme accuracy to fit between the white lines. And be careful opening the huge doors to avoid dinging your neighbors.

For a huge SUV, that, to reiterate, weighs 3 tons with driver on board, the handling and ride quality is miraculous. The dampening is good; body roll is minimal, while the ride is still incredibly smooth. The only hints of its largess are going over “whoops” in the road where it takes a while to settle back down. Overall, very, very impressive.

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  • Mike says:

    I love my Yukon Hybrid but having problems with the front end clearance. Does anyone know if the front bumper extension can be removed. I was told the lower bumper creates distinct airflow over the engine. Thoughts?

  • Derek says:

    GM has NOT produced 60,00 hybrid vehicles, yet. This means the GMC Yukon Hybrid and Chevy Tahoe Hybrid qualify for federal tax credits. Both of the above hybrid SUVs are estimated to qualify for a $2200 tax credit if you purchase one this year.

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