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GM’s 2015MY Full Size SUVs

GM’s 2015MY Full Size SUVs  General Motors has launched its new-for-2015MY full size SUVs.  While you might wonder why they care about launching these behemoths when the segment has fallen at the hands of expensive gasoline, these are mighty profit generators for the General even at relatively low volumes.  Last year, GM launched the pickups upon which these SUVs are based – the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra.  When they were launched these pickups were criticized because their styling was so evolutionary from their GMT900 predecessors.  But, it turns out that GM planners and engineers really know their stuff and the pickups have won kudos for their capability.  The Silverado was named the North American Truck of the Year.

2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali

Sheetmetal Unique to the SUVs  Chevrolet’s full size SUVs are the Tahoe and Suburban.  GMC’s are the Yukon and the longer Yukon XL.  Unlike their predecessors, they share no exterior sheetmetal with the pickups – their doors are different which substantially improves the ingress/egress for the 2nd row seat on the shorter Tahoe and Yukon.  Also, GM has corrected a serious faux pas in the GMT900 products.  In the GMT900s, the 3rd row seat did not fold flat into the floor and at that time, GM management said that was OK, their buyers did not want the seat to fold.  About the first thing a Tahoe/Yukon owner would do was take out the rear seat and leave it in their garage.  Wonderful.  Well, now they are not BSing us any more and they have found a way to get a flat-but-sloping load floor in the rear without resorting to the more expensive Ford/Lincoln solution of an independent rear suspension.  Both the 2nd and 3rd can be had with a power folding feature.2015 GMC Yukon Denali

Substantial Upgrade to Interior  The interiors have been given a tremendous amount of attention.  Materials have been upgraded to soft-touch on all surfaces you might touch.  Ergonomics are top notch.  The latest features are available including comfort and convenience features, entertainment features and safety and security features.  GM’s full size SUVs are often targeted by thieves so a vehicle security solution is available that includes glass-break sensors, vertical movement sensors (is a thief is jacking up the vehicle to steal the tires and wheels), interior movement sensors and door lock protection.  If a pet, for instance, is left temporarily in the vehicle, the interior movement sensor can be overridden by pushing a button.

GM Owns 74% of the Full Size SUV Market  With the 2015 versions of these full size SUVs, GM looks likely to hold on to its commanding segment share of 74% (in the 2013CY).  Competition includes the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada and perhaps the Dodge Durango.  Ford is freshening its Expedition and Lincoln Navigator for the 2015MY, but the changes to those vehicles are not as major as the GM entries.  Ford has adopted a powertrain strategy using its 3.5L V6 Twin-Turbo EcoBoost engine as the sole power source.  The others in the competitive set have V8-only powertrains.

EcoTec3 V8 Power  The Tahoe/Suburban and Yukon/Yukon XL come with an 355HP EcoTec3 5.3L V8 that gets 16mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway.  The upscale Denali version of the Yukon and Yukon XL gets a 420HP EcoTec3 6.2L V8 that transforms the driving dynamics of these big vehicles.  EcoTec3 technology includes direct fuel injection, active fuel management and continuously variable valve timing.  The active fuel management system shuts off four cylinders when cruising under light loads.  The shift from V8 to V4 is imperceptible.

Buyer Generalities  The shorter Tahoe/Yukon tend to be everyday commuter vehicles getting the driver to and from work.  The longer Suburban/Yukon XL serve as a very capable minivan doing family schlepping duty during the week and family activities on the weekend.  A high percentage of both are driven by women.  Median income ranges from about $100,000 for a Tahoe to almost $200,000 for a Yukon XL Denali owner.  Age is between 45 and 55 years of age.  These folks have the wherewithal to pay the hefty prices these vehicles command.  On our ride evaluation in Napa Valley and across to Lake Tahoe, the loaded vehicles we drove were priced in the $65,000 – $75,000 range.  You can get a base Tahoe LS for about $46,000 and stretch a Yukon XL Denali to about $80,000.

And So…..  GM’s 2015MY Full Size SUVs are an excellent evolution of the full size SUV genre.  General Motors did not plow much new ground here, but updated and upgraded the products substantially.  They are immediately identified as General Motors’ SUVs.  They look capable and purposeful.  They are very serious about being able to do everything they are asked to do and more.  Good job.

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