September 26, 2022

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Off-Road Dreams — 2022 GMC Yukon AT4

The past decade of SUV and truck development has been full of ever-growing size and comfort. Bigger, longer, taller. Fist in the wind design elements. Power. Capability. 

The American consumer loves these things. No, V8s don’t get great mileage, but there’s that towering view of the road, extra safety in size and room to stretch out during the commute.

Size and comfort still cancel out a lot of negatives, even when every parking spot seems to be shrinking in size at the same rate that gas prices are rising. 

But here’s the thing: With all that size and comfort comes a softness. How many Denali trucks and SUVs ever really get muddy? How many use their transfer cases for anything other than the odd snowy day?

It was only a matter of time before the builders behind today’s plush SUVs decided to return to the roots of basic, fundamental 4×4 utility — or at least highlight them again on top of the cupholder-rich environment that they’ve created.

With that, I give you the 2022 GMC Yukon AT4.

All $79,175 of it.

To be fair, the standard vehicle price here is just a tad over $66k. That price gets you the AT4 package with the 5.3-L V8, magnetic ride control, a 2-speed transfer case, all-terrain tires, heated seats and wheel, LED lighting, blacked-out chrome trim, etc. There are skid plates and red-keyed recovery hooks, there to remind you that this is an off-road rig that’s only playing on the street. There’s an edge. Something more than just a to-and-from mall crawler. How real is it? Consider this: The AT4 won Motortrend’s Four Wheeler SUV of the Year award in 2021. This is no cushy Denali.

Most notable, at least for me, is the four-wheel independent suspension system. Combined with magnetic ride, this makes for a soft but reactive ride — it’s head and shoulders above the live-axle Denali truck I drive daily in terms of cornering and ride quality, which is quite the achievement in a high-riding and heavy SUV that’s aimed at the 4×4 crowd.

GM threw the options list at this tester, adding the AT4 Premium Plus package that includes a massive sunroof, rear seat media, electronic LSD, adjustable air ride suspension (with driver-selectable ride height settings), HD surround vision, pedestrian alert, head-up display, all sorts of trailering camera and sensor add-ons (alongside the Max Trailering Package, which positions this well to haul an enclosed trailer), retractable running boards with perimeter lighting, second-row heated bucket seats, and the big (and newly available) 6.2-L V8. That’s over $12,000 in options alone. 

The available and added-on options make this a battleship of capability that will woo even the most staunch critic after real-world wheel time. It’s quick, it’s full of driver aids for parking and visibility, and has cool add-ons such as lane departure assist and a heads-up display that tells you, in real time, what the distance is between you and the car in front of you. Out back, it shines an illuminated “GMC” emblem on the ground. Break the beam with your foot and the hatch opens automatically. 

GM continues to make great SUVs, and this one circles back over itself to really highlight what an SUV is supposed to be. In 2022, that’s both comfortable and capable. It’s just too bad it’s so expensive to get there — not that it matters. After a week with this one, I inquired with a local GMC dealer about what it takes to buy one right now, only to find out there’s a six- to nine-month wait, and that’s IF you order one with options that haven’t been red-listed by GM due to supplier shortages. 

If you questioned whether or not GMC got it right with this plush and capable Yukon, there’s your answer.

Ratings:

High Point: Great tech, nice materials, will go anywhere

Low Point: Cost. Fuel economy. Did I mention cost?

Final Word: A comfortable SUV made more capable with an extra addition of 4×4 swagger.

Drivability: *****

Fun factor/appearance: ****

Overall: *****

(***** is best)

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