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1998 4x4 of the Year Models: GMC Yukon SLT

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 1998
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Contributors: Tori Tellem
Photographers: 4 Wheel & Off-Road Staff

General Motors' big-but-not-as-long-as-the-Suburban sport/utility was introduced in 1995 and revealed itself as the Chevy Tahoe back in our 1996 shootout. This year's GMC Yukon version was eligible for competition thanks to its all-new Autotrac active transfer case, which is now standard on 4x4 Yukons and Suburbans. The other significant aspect of new Yukons is that they are no longer available in two-door versions. All '98 Yukons come with the Vortec 5700 engine introduced in 1996, and all have automatic trannies.

The importance of the new Autotrac T-case is an all-wheel-drive 4WD Auto mode that enables the T-case to sense wheel slip and send power to wheels with the most traction. This allows on-road use of full-time four-wheel drive for surefooted safety in inclement weather or go-fast fun powering down dirt roads. And you have even more choices: 2-Hi, 4-Hi, and 4-Lo positions are retained. Testers left the shift button in Autotrac mode for most of the non-trail testing, and the all-wheel traction showed its merits most on snowy backroads and during high-speed cornering on dirt roads.

However, the Yukon's high scores were less attributable to the Autotrac than to the traits of the good ol' fullsize truck from which the Yukon platform was derived. Those include a sturdy ladder frame with minimal trail-grabbers (aside from the running boards), and a basic drivetrain consisting of a Corporate 10-bolt rear and a 10-year-old IFS design up front. Of course, the basic pickup suspension has been successfully tuned for sport/utility ride, and the huge interior was well liked for its comfort, utility, ergonomics, amenities, and the best driver-side airbag packaging we've ever seen.

Drivetrainwise, the 255hp Vortec 5700 continues to impress. Even though it weighs 460 pounds more than the Durango, the Yukon ran a nearly identical quarter-mile time. Judges also liked the power on tap in off-road situations, but criticized the transmission for hunting for gears too often.

Although the Yukon is a seemingly aged design, it's hard to criticize when it scores best-of-the-bunch in mechanical fit and finish, highway ride and drive, interior appointments, and usefulness of the cargo area. Even we were surprised by how well it scored versus some of the newer-designed trucks-but you'll notice that we've yet to mention off-road ability. Yep, in every dirt-testing category, there were a couple 4x4s that were superior to the Yukon. However, it failed at nothing, scoring solid middle-of-the-pack off-road evaluations to back up the healthy on-road benefits.

•Good engine power
•Great cross-country cruiser
•Cargo and amenities winner

•Trans hunts for gears
•Kinda big and low for trail use
•Lots of hard plastic inside

Manufacturer GMC
Model Yukon SLT
Base Price $32,604
Price as Tested $36,175
Options as Tested Side running boards,
dual electric remote mirrors, 3.73 gear ratio, heavy-duty trailering equipment, California Emissions, and Marketing Option Package (AM/FM stereo, CD, cassette, clock, front/rear air conditioning, front/rear carpeted floor mats, six-way power driver-seat adjuster, SLT decor, ultrasoft leather seat trim, front high-back, remote keyless entry, and inside rearview light-sensitive mirror.

Type Vortec 5700 V-8 L31
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Bore & Stroke (inches) 4.00x3.48
Compression Ratio 9.4:1
Induction Type Sequential, multiport fuel injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) 87 Octane
Unleaded regular/30
SAE Peak Horsepower 255 @ 4,600 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 330 @ 2,800 rpm

Type Four-speed electronic automatic overdrive
Model 4L60E Hydramatic
Ratios First: 3.06:1; Second: 1.63:1; Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1; Reverse: 2.29:1

Transfer Case
Type Two-speed active Autotrac
Model NV246
Low-Range Ratio 2.72:1

Front Type IFS
Rear Type Semifloating
Hubs Automatic
Ratio 3.73:1

Front Independent/torsion bars
Rear Live axle, semi-elliptic, progressive-rate multileaf springs

Type Power electronic, speed-sensitive recirculating ball
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.0/16.4:1-16.3:1
Turning Radius (feet) 40.7

Size (inches) 16x7
Material Aluminum

Size P245/75R16
Brand BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A

Brake System
Front 11.57-inch discs with ABS
Rear 10-inch drums with ABS

Measured Weight (pounds) 5,430
Advertised GVWR (pounds) 6,800

EPA Estimate (city/hwy mpg) 13/16
As Tested (mpg) 12.07

Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 17.71 @ 76.15

60-0 mph (feet) 167.13

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 117.5
Overall Length 199.6
Overall Width 76.8
Overall Height 74.2
Front/Rear Track 62.6/63.6
Front/Rear Overhang 35.0/46.0
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 9.25

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