Full-size body-on-frame SUV
Owners praise their GMT900 utes for great ride quality, confident towing and hauling capabilities, a decent blend of power and fuel economy, and a rugged, safe and solid feel.
In the midst of a dying big-SUV marketplace, GM launched the GMT900 series sport utes for model year 2007, offering Yukon, Yukon XL, Suburban, Tahoe and Escalade variants with better mileage, performance and feature content than ever.
The GMT900 models meet a wide variety of needs and lifestyles – and these machines were popular with big families, folks with heavy stuff to tow, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone in general after a full-size, full-function sports-ute model with generous towing, hauling and trail-tackling capabilities.
Whether you choose the massive Suburban, the posh Escalade, or anything in between, look for standard V8 power, two or four-wheel drive (AWD in the Escalade), OnStar, and a lengthy list of safety features. A proven high-strength truck structure helped round out the package with durable capability, and generous room for people and cargo was on offer in all models. The extended-length Suburban and Yukon XL variants added even more space for up to eight occupants.
Depending on the model selected, shoppers can seek out a used copy with a 4.8, 5.3 or 6.2L V8 engine teamed with six-speed automatic transmissions for improved fuel efficiency. Delivering up to 352 horsepower on regular fuel, GM’s award-winning V8 engines utilize variable valve timing, lightweight construction and advanced computer controls to keep fuel bills reasonable. The high-end Escalade got a 6.2L V8 with 403 horsepower, which was also available optionally on other models. Most used GMT900 models, Escalade aside, will have the 5.3L V8.
What Owners Like
Typically, owners praise their GMT900 utes for great ride quality, confident towing and hauling capabilities, a decent blend of power and fuel economy, and a rugged, safe and solid feel. Space and flexibility required for a variety of lifestyles and activities are found in masses, and Escalade owners from this generation rave about a lavish, high-end feeling cabin.
What Owners Dislike
Complaints are typical of this genre of vehicle, with many shoppers griping about difficulty parking, and the wish for better fuel economy on some models. Other complaints include some cheap interior trim and excessive road noise.
GMC Yukon XL
The big stuff first. As most used models in this generation of GM full-sized sport ute will pack the 5.3L V8 engine with AFM cylinder deactivation, shoppers are advised to check this powerplant for signs of oil consumption and other related issues, which are common, and well-documented in the owners community.
The issue seems to stem from the operation of the AFM system as it pertains to the 5.3L engine. AFM de-activates un-needed cylinders during gentle driving, helping to save fuel.
Though it’s unclear if the problem was massively widespread, shoppers are advised to check the oil condition and level ahead of their purchase, and to confirm that the seller was fond of doing the same on a regular basis. Have a dealer use the VIN number to pull up all service records, noting any that indicate an oil-consumption problem. Shoppers are also advised to listen for unwanted clicking or clacking noises from the top of the engine (ie, the valve lifters), with the hood open and engine idling. Unwanted sounds like these could indicate problems, possibly related to the oil consumption issue.
If the problem was reported, a dealer may have made provisions to monitor oil consumption and rectify the issue. Some owners have had luck in getting dealers to correct the issue. Others haven’t. More information at this link, and note, again, that this oil consumption issue seems most likely in 2007 to 2009 GMT900 models with the 5.3L engine.
Ensure proper operation of the cruise control system, too. Numerous owners have reported issues with cruise control failure. Thankfully, the common fix is simply to replace the brake-light switch, which is a cheap and easily-replaced part. More information here.
Ensure the 4x4 system, if equipped, switches between its various modes as outlined in the owner’s manual. Don’t take the sellers word that the 4x4 system is working properly – check it for yourself. If the system doesn’t engage, or you note any ‘Service 4x4’ warnings, be sure to have a GM mechanic determine why. Typically, issues like these are caused by the computer that controls the system, not the pricey 4x4 actuator itself. Be double sure that’s the case if you note any issues. Note that the Escalade used an always-on four-wheel drive / AWD system, so switching modes will not be possible.
Open the front doors and feel the carpeting under the front floor mats for signs of moisture, which could be caused by a leaky windshield seal and / or plugged sunroof vent tubes. Check the rear seating floor area and the cargo hold for signs of moisture, too. Left unattended, trapped moisture can cause rust and mould, which is gross. Here’s some more reading.
Next, check the high-end feature content, if equipped. Now’s the time to make sure the Bluetooth, heated steering-wheel, chilled memory seats and power tailgate, if equipped, are working properly. None of these will be inexpensive to fix if they’re not working.
Note that many used GMT900 models will have modifications like air intakes and exhaust kits, which are typically considered safe, if they use high-quality parts and installation. However, the average shopper is advised to avoid models with extensive modifications to the engine, suspension or drivetrain. Further, note that lifted models, and models with extremely large tires and wheels, could cause issues.
On a pre-purchase inspection, be sure to have a mechanic inspect your potential used Suburban/Yukon/Escalade/Tahoe candidate for signs of excessive brake wear, tire wear, suspension component wear, and worn wheel-bearings, to ensure the seller isn’t trying to pass off a pricey repair bill.
A big and strong owners community has done a great job of documenting common issues with these sport utes in various owner forums, and most issues will be easily identified, familiar to a technician at a GM dealer, and relatively easy to remedy. An early model with the 4.8 or 6.2 litre engine, or any 2010 or newer model, will likely make the most confident purchase, provided they pass a mechanical pre-purchase inspection.
Here’s a partial list of recalls. Take the VIN number of the model you’re considering to a GM dealer to check for any outstanding recall work on the GMT900 model you’re considering.
Crash Test Scores
Cadillac Escalade: 4/5 Stars (NHTSA)
Chevrolet Tahoe: 4/5 Stars (NHTSA)
GMC Yukon: 4/5 Stars (NHTSA)