2021 GMC Yukon vs. Certified Pre-Owned Yukon: Which Is Better?


Is newer always better? The 2021 GMC Yukon tempts buyers with its freshly redesigned sheetmetal, but picking a certified pre-owned model could mean money saved for a long-overdue kitchen remodel or adding to a college fund. Before assuming the new-for-2021 Yukon is right for you, here’s what you need to know about opting for a CPO Yukon.

2021 GMC Yukon: What’s New?

GMC updated almost everything about the Yukon for the 2021 model year, starting with the length. Even the non-XL version got stretched and is now 6.1 inches longer with a 4.9-inch wheelbase stretch. Go XL, and the length increases by just under an inch, but the wheelbase is 4.1 inches longer. GMC has also introduced a new off-road-oriented AT4 trim and paid more attention to the popular Denali trim—the 2021 Yukon Denali now comes with a unique interior layout.

Of course, one of the biggest changes is the integration of an independent rear suspension, which helps increase interior spaciousness. The 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8s return but are joined by a turbodiesel 3.0-liter I-6. Regardless of what’s under the hood, all 2021 Yukons have a more imposing design than before thanks to a larger grille that’s especially bright on the Denali model.

Get inside, and you’ll find tons of available tech and features, from a surround-view camera system to a 15.0-inch color head-up display and a power-sliding center console.

Details on GMC’s Certified Pre-Owned Program

If all that sounds great but you’re still interested in potentially saving money on a lightly used Yukon, GMC’s certified pre-owned program might entice. The CPO program starts with a 172-point inspection and reconditioning and is supported by a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a six-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty (from the original in-service date). Two scheduled service visits are also included to cover maintenance items such as tire rotations as well as oil and filter changes. If that CPO Yukon just isn’t what you thought it would be, you can return it to the dealer within three days or 150 miles for an Acadia, Tahoe, or another other Chevrolet, Buick, or GMC. Head here for full details.

Learn about the best IntelliChoice-rated certified pre-owned programs here.

Get It New: 2021 GMC Yukon Advantages

With 60 percent of Yukon buyers driving away in a chrome-clad Denali model, we’ll start there. The new 2021 Yukon Denali’s repositioned central air vents and 10.2-inch touchscreen (it’s lower on the dash than in other trims) give it a different appeal. The effort is intended to indicate that Denali is about more than just extra chrome and badges. In terms of the premium feel, the GMC falls about where you’d expect—better than a Tahoe but not as luxurious as an Escalade. So the advantage here isn’t exactly the luxurious interior but rather the fact that GMC spent the effort to better differentiate the cabin for Denali models. 

The other key advantage of sticking with the new 2021 Yukon is the availability of diesel. Our first drive of the Yukon diesel was an especially positive one. If you can handle acceleration to 60 mph in the mid-eight-second range, the diesel may be a smart option. Depending on how you drive, the price premium of about $1,000 over a 5.3-liter V-8 model will pay for itself over the course of your five-year loan, and it’s actually $1,500 cheaper than the 6.2-liter V-8.

The diesel pairs to a well-tuned 10-speed automatic transmission and delivers more low-end torque than the 6.2-liter V-8 does. Although the six-cylinder diesel can’t deliver a classic V-8 sound, we found it was more refined we expected. Here’s one other incredible Yukon diesel advantage: an EPA combined city/highway driving range of 598 miles with RWD—the 5.3-liter V-8 model has a 432-mile combined range. 

The third and hugely important difference between the old and new Yukons may just be the refreshingly improved interior. In the past, the interiors of Yukons (and the related Chevrolet and Cadillac models) didn’t always feel as spacious as you’d expect for a vehicle too big to fit comfortably in many garages. The new 2021 Yukon is different, though. There’s an abundance of additional perceived space, even before you compare the numbers.

  • 2021 Yukon: 44.5/42.0/34.9 inches (first/second/third row)
  • Last-gen Yukon: 45.3/39.0/24.8 inches
  • 2021 Yukon XL: 44.5/42.0/36.7 inches
  • Last-gen Yukon XL: 45.3/39.7/34.5 inches
  • 2021 Yukon: 25.5/72.6/122.9 cubic feet (behind third/second/first row)
  • Last-gen Yukon: 15.3/51.7/94.7 cubic feet
  • 2021 Yukon XL: 41.5/93.8/144.7 cubic feet
  • Last-gen Yukon XL: 39.3/76.7/121.1 cubic feet

The 2021 Yukon is bigger on the outside, too. The new model is 210.0 and 225.2 inches long in standard and XL versions, which is 6.1 and 0.8 inches longer than the outgoing model.

Get It Used: CPO GMC Yukon Advantages

Even if the financing rate you qualify for on a used car isn’t as good as that of a new car, you can still save money with a used car—a lot of it. A two-year-old Yukon could save its buyer $20,000 or more compared to the new version. Beyond that, though, there are a couple of areas where going new doesn’t yield a huge advantage. 

The first is the driving range. If the 2021 Yukon’s diesel isn’t for you, keep in mind that the 2020 model will actually give you a few more miles between fill-ups. The 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V-8s entered 2021 largely unchanged, and the latter engine even had the same 10-speed automatic (the base engine replaced a six-speed with a 10-speed). 

When it comes to the new Yukon, we aren’t a fan of the control layout. And despite the unique design that separates it from the rest of the Yukon line, the new Denali’s interior doesn’t quite live up to its approximately $70,000 price tag.

New vs. Used GMC Yukon: Which Is Better? 

If the allure of a new car is too strong to resist, consider the diesel. That powertrain is new for 2021 and fits the character of a large SUV like the Yukon. We’ve also twice recommended a lightly equipped Denali-trim model to combine GM’s magnetic shocks with the available air-ride adaptive suspension. GMC still charges extra for adaptive cruise control, so if we were buying new, we’d also add the Advanced Technology package. And keep in mind every color except the non-metallic white costs extra on the 2021 Yukon.

If all you see in that last paragraph are dollar signs, the used Yukon may be a better bet. Stick with the Denali—or any model combining the 6.2-liter V-8 with the 10-speed auto—and you may hit the sweet spot of the last-gen Yukon lineup.

2021 GMC Yukon Advantages:

  • Denali gets a noticeably different interior compared with other trims
  • Available diesel
  • Way more space for people and their stuff

Used GMC Yukon Advantages:

  • More affordable
  • Similar efficiency and driving range (besides the new diesel)

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