2021 GMC Yukon vs. Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, Ford Expedition and more: Is biggest still the best?

First came Tahoe and Suburban; now we have Yukon and Yukon XL. How do GMC's new full-size SUVs compare against their classmates?

How does this guy stack up against rivals? Read on.

We've had time to digest the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, but their more luxurious cousins have arrived on the scene. The 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL bowed in Denali and AT4 trims on Tuesday, but how do they stack up against the competition?

Like the Tahoe and Suburban, the Yukon and Yukon XL are massive vehicles, so we're not really cross-shopping crossovers here. We're also looking at a pair of SUVs that will likely start at around $50,000, with the Denali versions coming in around $70,000. That pits the GM lineup against vehicles like the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

Powertrain and performance

Mirroring the Tahoe and Suburban are the three engine choices on offer. The Yukon and Yukon XL will sport either a 5.3-liter V8 as standard, a 6.2-liter V8 as an upgraded option, and for the first time, there's a 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline-six engine. Look for the 5.3-liter V8 to pump out 355 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque, and the diesel-fed engine to make somewhere around 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are based on the Tahoe and Suburban outputs, by the way; GM has yet to confirm the final Yukon specs.

The Ford Expedition is offered with a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6. Ford's really figured out how to get maximum power and torque out of a smaller turbo engine, and with headline numbers like 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, it makes a compelling case for itself. Fuel economy doesn't suck either, with a combined EPA rating of 19 mpg.

Nissan's 5.6-liter overhead-cam V8 is practically ancient by now, having been introduced in its current form some nine years ago, but it still sounds good, and its 390 hp and 395 lb-ft will still allow the big Armada to get out of its own way. Fuel economy though is not so good, with the Armada only able to return a combined 15 mpg.

Toyota's Sequoia has the same problem as the Armada. It's got a perfectly competent, under-stressed engine that's about as old as the Appian Way. The venerable 5.7-liter V8, which also does duty in Toyota's Land Cruiser makes 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque and also like the Nissan mill, can only offer a combined 15 mpg.

Technology and safety

GMC brings a few party tricks to the full-size SUV field. For starters, there's a 15-inch head-up display available as an option that will project all sorts of relevant information such as navigation, speed and more. There's also a power-sliding center console, which is certainly nifty. It'll slide back up to 10 inches and reveals additional storage.

In total, the Yukon offers up to nine separate camera views to get a better look around the big SUV. The range from a surround-view monitor, rear camera mirror and GMC's ProGrade trailering system. The brand says it's the most camera views offered in the segment, if that's something buyers are truly concerned about. Across the board, there's a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It looks a smidge different in the Denali compared to the AT4.

As for active safety gear, GMC says forward-collision assist with low-speed auto braking, pedestrian detection, and hill hold assist will all be standard equipment. On the SLT trim and above, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and lane-change assist are all standard. For those looking for adaptive cruise control, it's locked away in the Denali trim, so be prepared to spend big for the feature.

The 2021 Suburban and Tahoe sport features like automatic emergency braking, forward-collision alert, rear parking assist, passenger detection, automatic headlights and more. GM said previously that there are around 30 new safety features in total on the Chevy SUVs.

On the tech side of things, the most significant change for the Suburban and Tahoe is the inclusion of a rather large and cleanly integrated 10-inch touchscreen on the dash. Now, don't get us wrong; the Suburban is enormous, so the 10-inch screen doesn't immediately strike us as big, but the extra real estate should prove agreeable to use. That system is running Chevrolet's own infotainment system but also supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Things like a wireless hot spot and wireless charging with charger cooling are available, too.

In the Expedition you get Ford's CoPilot 360 safety suite as standard, and that includes features such as automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind-spot warning, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. We've experienced it in other Ford vehicles, and it works pretty well.

In terms of tech, the Expedition makes use of the perfectly acceptable Sync 3 infotainment system which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Expedition has plenty of USB charging ports and offers wireless charging, as well.

The Nissan Armada is old, and as such, its tech and safety situation is less than ideal. Still, Nissan has been able to add things like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, but that's kind of the bare minimum of what's acceptable in 2019. Infotainment comes courtesy of the NissanConnect system and offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as navigation. The Armada is only available with an 8-inch touchscreen, though, so that's another point against it.

Things aren't much less grim in the Toyota camp either. The Sequoia's infotainment system is only available with a 7-inch touchscreen, though, like everybody else, it includes Apple and Android compatibility, as well as Alexa integration. Toyota only offers the Toyota Safety Sense P system on the Sequoia, which gets you a precollision system, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Want more? Look elsewhere.

Interior space

Not a shocker: The Yukon and Yukon XL boast identical interior space figures to the Tahoe and Suburban. The Yukon XL has plenty of room for people with additional space for all their luggage, groceries or whatever else it is you haul around, with a cargo capacity of 41.1 cubic feet behind the third row of seats. The Yukon minus the "extra large" designation still manages 25.5 cubic feet. Of course, if you don't need the third row, those numbers jump up to 92.9 and 72.7 cubic feet, respectively.

The Expedition and its longer-wheelbase Max variant are in a similar boat to the big 'Burban and Yukon XL, but just ever-so-slightly behind, with a cargo capacity of 20.9 cubic feet behind the third row in the standard Expedition, and 37.8 cubic-feet in the Max. Those climb to 63.6 and 80.5 cubic feet, respectively, without the third row in place. 

Nissan's Armada has just 16.5 cubic feet of space with the rear-most seats up, but if you fold them away, that expands to 95.4 cubic feet, leaving it a little out of its depth when compared to America's SUVs.

The Toyota, as ever, is much the same as the Nissan, though it does offer a third row. The Sequoia has room for 18.9 cubic feet of your belongings behind that way-way back seat, and 66.6 cubic feet if you fold it down.

Pricing and conclusion

GMC hasn't spoken to how much its new rigs will cost when they go on sale, but we can certain surmise they'll be a bit more expensive than the outgoing 2020 models. The old Yukon starts at $51,895 before any options, while the XL goes for $54,695. The Denali model already flirts with $70,000. It's safe to say we'll be looking at a $53,000 minimum when all is said and done after destination, if GMC decides to keep the cost in check.

Chevrolet also hasn't given us pricing for the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban, we'd expect them to be just a bit more expensive than the outgoing 2019 models, which started at $49,000 and $51,700, respectively. Of course, there's lots of room for that price tag to grow as you tack on options.

The Ford Expedition will set you back $52,810 in its most basic form, and $55,835 for the longer-wheelbase Max model. If you decide to leave the land of the red, white and blue for your large SUV purchase, you can expect to see sticker prices for the Armada starting at $47,100 for a base model with two-wheel drive. The Toyota Sequoia SR5 with two-wheel drive begins at $49,905.

Taking everything into account, including pricing, the Suburban and Tahoe make an exceedingly compelling case for themselves, in a way that they maybe haven't for some time. Sure, they're big -- the Suburban is perhaps too big to live with in a major metropolitan city -- but with their excellent available powertrains and new-found tech, we'd expect the General to move them like hotcakes.

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Originally published Dec. 10.
Update, Jan. 14: Adds GMC Yukon information.