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How is the GMC Yukon XL typically driven?
We consider the GMC Yukon XL to be a full-size SUV. This means that the Yukon XL is capable of hauling 7 or more people and is often an everyday driver for families. GMC Yukon XL models often include captain’s chairs to allow passengers to readily access the third row of seating in the back. The Yukon XL is also known for having a large trunk that is perfect for shopping, vacations, or equipment.
The Yukon XL is not weather specific and actually comes in 2WD, which is more common in southern and western states. 4WD is more common in northern states where drivers might want the extra traction and control for the purpose of driving through snow and ice.
Since the Yukon XL could be readily driven by someone seeking a comfortable vehicle in south Texas or a farmer in northern Wisconsin, we evaluated a large variety of tires from all-season to winter tires. Knowing these, we have reviewed a large assortment of tires for most kinds of use.
What do GMC Yukon XL drivers value in tires?
We think that GMC Yukon XL drivers have some things they find to be of higher value than others. The things most drivers value are fairly common:
Larger SUVs like the GMC Yukon XL tend to be made for a comfortable drive no matter how long the distance. Comfort and noise levels are important for large vehicles.
Yukon XL drivers can have kids or passengers more often given the ability to fit 8 people in some models. Being able to stop safely on dry conditions and wet is important.
While the Yukon XL is not a “value vehicle”, it’s still important to save money on tire and get the best performance you can for the dollar.
Yukon XL drivers might not have much time to visit the tire shop. Tread life is important, just like price, because it adds value and length of service to a tire.
Our Picks for All Season Tires
An all-season tire is meant to handle all seasons equally. This means these tires are well rounded, though they will be at their best on dry highways.
Best Overall All-Season Highway Tire:
Continental TerrainContact H/T
It’s odd when we can say that a tire asks for few compromises. Normally, a highway tire has something going on that might make it a difficult choice. In this case, the Continental TerrainContact handles just slightly worse than other competitors in the same category - though we don’t consider better overall handling to be an ultra high priority ability for a Yukon XL driver.
Instead, the TerrainContact does very well on ride quality compared to others in class, especially the Yokohama Geolander and Kumho Crugen. The Firestone Destination LE3 was nearly equal.
A test on dry tracks made the TerrainContact shine across the board when mounted on a GMC Yukon XL. Drivers commented that it held the road well - and was quite comfortable compared to other tires. Road noise was close to best on the test, noting that the Yukon XL itself makes some engine noise. In regards to dry track handling and performance, there is a significant difference between the TerrainContact and the Kumho and Yokohama - which we don’t recommend.
Some Yukon XL drivers will also appreciate the Continental TerrainContact’s wet road capabilities. The TerrainContact subjectively held up far better than other tires in the same class, giving drivers confidence in the rain and outdueling the Firestone Destination again - though the Firestone did well too.
In regards to safety, the TerrainContact did a great job of stopping on dry and wet compared to competitors. A few feet matter for stopping at high speed, and the difference between the TerrainContact and others is big - 20 feet or more in the rain. Given the weight and length of the Yukon XL, this can be rather important.
Continental achieves the right balance of wet and dry handling with a “+Silica” compound that grips through poor weather, and deep cut sipes that channel water away from the treads on the tire to ensure consistent traction.
TerrainContact is not a snow tire and is rated at a still decent 8.3 on TireRack’s subjective scale. The TerrainContact could certainly be used in snow and ice, but it is meant as an all-terrain highway tire.
Continental also gives a good warranty with 6 years and 60,000 miles. The subjective treadwear rating is good at 8.9, so you are unlikely to wear these tires out earlier than expected. The average price for a Continental ContactTerrain H/T is around $215 per tire.
All Season Tire Runner Up:
Firestone Destination LE3
In a close second, with different qualities is the Firestone Destination LE3. We’ll start this by saying that the Firestone Destination will cost you a bit less than the ContactTerrain at $191 per tire. Is it worth it?
The biggest positive difference between the Firestone Destination and the ContactTerrain is handling. Drivers felt like the Firestone Destination was a bit more responsive and handled corners a little better. To contrast, they felt like the Destination wasn’t as quiet or as smooth for ride comfort.
The Destination outperformed everything but Continental on all other levels, and still offered good cornering and handling grip while driving around in a GMC Yukon XL. The Destination wet lap time held up against Continental, which means it had about the same ability to accelerate out of a corner in the rain- but the Destination couldn’t match the nice braking distance and added 20 feet- which is actually about average. These abilities come in part from full sipes much like the ContactTerrain, which allow continuous traction under wet braking conditions.
Where does the smoother ride come from? Destination LE3 has uniquely built advanced rubber compound in addition to symmetric treads that make handling a bit more responsive with a more significant grip.
You do get a slightly longer warranty than Continental with a 5 year, 70,000 mile warranty. Firestone seems to assume you are going to be driving a bit more per year. Firestone does offer a good value for the price compared to Continental though it doesn’t do as good as wet or dry weather. In regards to treadwear and longevity, the Firestone is highly rated with a subjective 9.4 out of 10 - which is great. The combination of a long warranty and high subjective treadwear rating makes it clear that Firestone developed these tires with some toughness - though it does involve a compromise.
Best GMC Yukon XL tire for Comfort
Michelin Defender LTX M/S
The Michelin Defender better represents the compromise that happens for a tire when a driver looks for the best blend of comfort, performance, and price. We’ll get to which compromise happens later.
Comfort is the basis for why one would want the Michelin Defender. Achieving a 9+ in the all-season highway category isn’t very easy, and the Defender pulls it off. For a person who will be in the vehicle a lot, or likes to go on road trips and notices the difference when a vehicle hits a bump - or just likes quiet - they will appreciate what the Defender can do. While it’s difficult to truly measure the comfort of a tire, being able to have an unchallenged conversation with someone in the passenger rear seat is a good measurement.
How does the Michelin Defender make their tire so comfy? They form their Evertread compound into independent tire blocks that promote good contact while remaining relatively quiet. Part of what makes the Defender quiet is its MaxTouch construction which promotes even treadwear that leads to a consistent ride.
The Defender also provides good wet and dry performance, scoring in the same realms as the Continental and Firestone with 9+ in both categories. Despite a nice treadwear rating of 9.0, TireRack has multiple complaints about the tread life - not about the eventual ride, but they feel the tire wears out quickly.
We’ll be honest here, and this is the compromise: these are expensive at around $240 per tire, but they are worth for Yukon XL drivers who want to be comfortable. In the context of an all-season highway tire, you are still getting good overall performance - you are just saying a bit more for the ride.
The warranty is up to 6 years, 70,000 miles which is a good term and number of miles.
Best All-Season Tire for the Money
General Grabber HTS60
Let’s now consider tires that are more cost effective for what they do. Some people are more interested in the most comfortable or best handling tires, but for people who don’t have the cash to pony up $225 or more for tires, General Grabber offers a good balance.
The Grabber doesn’t do amazing at any one thing, to be honest. Dry performance is quite good at 8.9 out of 10, which is lower than other tires in the category, but still good for everyday driving. Wet performance is also competitive at 8.6.
The Grabber competed with the similar Firestone Destination LE2. While the Destination expectedly beat the Grabber in every category except wet driving - it wasn’t by much.
At $190 per tire, General Grabber offers good overall performance for less than other tires. Their tire ribs are designed to keep sound down and have wide blocks for better cornering. The result is a decent though not especially high performing 8.5.
Will the Grabber be loud? Not really. Is the overall performance still good for a daily driver, yes. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t need to pair a high end suspension with high end tires, these can work out pretty well. As a relatively new competitor in the area, they offer a warranty that lands about in the middle at 6 years and 65,000 miles.
Best Touring Tires for the GMC Yukon XL
We are going to start focusing on a different type of tire. Touring tires offer a better ride on average with the compromise of traction. These are meant for a blend of highway driving and city, so if you aren’t going 60 to 70 miles per hour regularly, these might feel right for you.
Best Overall Touring Tire for GMC Yukon XL:
Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3
The Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 gets our highest rating for the GMC Yukon XL because it’s a comfortable, well priced tire. Given our change in category, you might also want to know that we are expecting more comfort from these touring tires than all-season tires.
With wet and dry performance at higher than 9.5, these tires can handle the seasons well. Comfort is among the best at 9.5. Pirelli also made these rather durable as it achieves a 9.8 in treadwear. Pirelli’s outstanding road grip comes from minimal spacing between treads to allow maximum contact with the road. The grooves are also equally set apart to allow for quick removal of water - and also results in a fairly quiet ride.
Pirelli very simply offers a great tire that balances between driving in the city on potentially bumpy roads, then headed to the on ramp or onto a long straight highway without you noticing the difference. Some all-season highway tires aren’t well made for city driving and make you feel potholes a bit harder.
At $220 per tire, these are actually not the most expensive touring tire for the Yukon XL. In the context of the Pirelli, it offers the best overall experience given the great dry and wet ratings with the price.
Pirelli also adds some serious value with an unlimited time warranty with a 70,000 mile limit. The warranty feels good, knowing that if you drive less than 10,000 miles per year, you won’t necessarily “run out” of warranty quickly because you didn’t drive much right away.
Best Runner Up Touring Tire for GMC Yukon XL
Cooper Endeavor Plus
The Cooper Endeavor Plus is new to the category of touring tires. Compared to similar tires, the Endeavor Plus proved comfortable and handled well with a GMC Yukon XL. The pattern on the Endeavor Plus is well patterned to properly reduce noise when driving.
There are 5 ribs on this tire, that help balance between handling and road contact, especially for dry handling. Like the Pirelli Scorpion, the Cooper Endeavor Plus will provide an overall excellent ride on the highway and in the city.
At around $200 per tire, the price is reasonable too. The warranty isn’t quite as strong as Pirelli, with a 6 year, 65,000 mile guarantee.
Cooper will offer comparable wet traction to Pirelli, which is not bad for the price. We gave Pirelli the better overall rating because it has been around longer, and it does provide a more comfortable ride overall - and might be worth paying for to some drivers and families.
Best On & Off Road GMC Yukon XL Tires
Named after a rugged and mountainous part of Canada, the Yukon XL itself can go off-road in relative comfort with enough space for more passengers and camping. If your work or home take you off paved roads sometimes, on and off road tires can certainly make your driving safer and more comfortable.
Expect to see blockier, but more aggressive treads that can dig into dirt and mud. In many cases, vehicles have anti-rock “technology” that consists of channels dug just wide enough not to accept small stones, while forcing water to exit through these channels and wash stones and debris away. Tread will also look thicker to avoid punctures when used on gravel, dirt, and rocks.
TireRack has a surprising quantity of tires that fit the Yukon XL in this range, but we picked the best ones.
Best Overall On & Off Road GMC Yukon XL Tires
Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus
Pirelli has made our list, and the Scorpion All Terrain Plus does quite well in the category. The Scorpion earns a category tying 9.2 for dry roads and is marginally worse than just the Cooper Discoverer AT3 and a Falken tire on wet roads.
The symmetric, open pattern on the Scorpion makes for a comfortable ride off-road where it is rated well at 8.5, keeping in mind that while off-road tires are meant to be comfortable off-road, there is only so much a tire can prevent on dirt, mud and other surfaces. The scorpion conquered dirt roads with a 9.2 rating on the unpaved, and did well on rocks and gravel at 8.9.
There are indeed tires that provide a slightly better comfort rating than the Scorpion but do so while balancing between better and worse dry capabilities, which are an essential part of driving for most Scorpion All Terrain Plus users.
The biggest factor in the Scorpion All Terrain Plus is the blend of price and ability. At $228 per tire, these are a great balance. Tires in this category commonly get slightly higher ratings for at least $50 more. We could select the Scorpions as both the best overall and best value if it didn’t mean telling you about the tire all over again.
Runner Up On & Off Road GMC Yukon XL Tires:
Firestone Destination A/T2
To say that the Firestone Destination is well rounded would be quite accurate. The Destination earns reasonably high marks on wet and dry while equaling the Scorpion All Terrain Plus Off-Road. Comfort and treadwear are certainly up there with 9 and 9.3 respectively.
Part of the durability of the Destination comes from the addition of two-ply nylon to the inside of the tire, promotes a longer lasting shape, which leads to longer term more even treadwear. The warranty is surprisingly short for the purpose at 5 years or 55,000 miles, which isn’t great but isn’t the worst we’ve seen.
The Destination is indeed severe weather rated and gets a respectable 8.6 in the snow with a lower rating on ice, like all tires.
So what keeps this from being the best tire in the group? It’s a bit more at $253 without offering significantly more of what matters most to Yukon XL drivers. Comfort is higher, but might not be worth paying for in comparison, for a vehicle that provides some comfort in itself.
Best Winter and Snow Tires for the GMC Yukon XL
Many vehicles become reasonably capable winter vehicles when equipped with snow tires. Snow tires provide extra aggressive treads that dig into snow, and can even drive on snow without much access to pavement with their unique ability to retain snow to make more snow on snow traction.
Yukon XLs equipped with all-wheel drive can certainly handle the snow, and snow tires can add an extra level of safety and assurance to a Yukon XL driver.
We have also included both studless and studdable tires in our mix. The difference is that studless tires aren’t capable of taking metal studs meant to dig into serious ice and snow, while studdable tires are capable of having slots in which to install studs for really bad days on winter roads. Most Yukon XL owners will be fine with studless, though in reality studdable tires tend to cost less.
Note that winter tires come with no warranty and aren’t meant to be driven all year. When you do your regular maintenance prior to the first snowfall, you’ve found the opportune time to switch to winter tires should your climate and driving habits need.
Best Overall Winter and Snow Tire for GMC Yukon XL:
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
Bridgestone Blizzak sets the benchmark for winter tires in the GMC Yukon XL. The Blizzak is both comfortable for winter and dry driving, and gets a very solid 9.5 out of 10 in winter performance, doing especially well with a 9.7 on light snow. Note that we don’t truly rate tires for their ice handling performance because ice is unpredictable, and tires aren’t always capable of helping you in a meaningful way.
Dry performance is still good with the Blizzak, at 8.8, though obviously is a bit lower on dry surfaces than the average all-terrain tire because the tread itself is designed aggressively. It will be a bit louder on dry surfaces.
One of the most important innovations provided within Blizzak is their NanoPro Tech Multicell Compound which both maintains some softness in extremely cold weather and provides the tire with the extra ability to push away moisture.
At $216 per tire, the Blizzak is the most expensive winter tire on TireRack, but worth it for its overall snow performance.
Runner Up Best Overall Winter and Snow Tire for GMC Yukon XL
Firestone Winterforce 2
We’ll be very up front about the difference here: you can add studs to the Winterforce, which also brings the price down to around $150. Tire studs cost about $15 per tire. Studs are useful primarily in situations of seriously packed snow and ice, otherwise don’t use them.
The actual winter performance of the Winterforce is a bit less than the Blizzak, though you’ll still feel better driving these than your all-seasons. At 9.0 they aren’t a slouch, and you’ll certainly get what you said for: better overall traction on snow, in addition to stopping more confidently on snow.
Firestone offers marginally less dry performance than Bridgestone, which is just fine considering the price difference. Even with the price difference though, the Bridgestone is designed for just a bit more winter.
We could readily grab either the Firestone Winterforce 2 ourselves. For especially wet and wintery climates, the Blizzak is the way to go if you are ready to pay a little extra for snow performance.
What tire sizes are available for the GMC Yukon XL?
This is going to depend on the year, but most Yukon XL models accept either an 18” tire or with the upgraded Denali models, a 20” tire. A 20” tire will cost more than an 18” tire because it uses more material. The pricing for our prices is based on the 18” standard tire for the Yukon XL.
Are there benefits to larger tires for my GMC Yukon XL?
In a way, yes. Wider diameter tires provide more grip and can make cornering a bit easier, though there is a limit to too wide.
Taller tires can increase your ride height by a couple of inches. For drivers who like a tall, commanding view of the road, this can be nice though its barely significant. The larger impact is having an inch or two of extra space underneath the vehicle for when you go over mud, rocks, or other obstacles that have the potential to get trapped in your undercarriage or damage something.
Some GMC Yukon XL drivers also like added height for visual purposes, and taller drivers might like the additional step up.
Are there disadvantages to larger tires for a GMC Yukon XL?
As we said, larger tires do cost more. Larger tires also tend to be a bit louder and less comfortable because they are heavier and make some more contact. The size of the tires also impacts your miles per gallon rating, though not in a huge way. The GMC already comes with a big engine in the 5.3L 8-cylinder and 6.2L 8-cylinder, so this likely won’t be a point of concern for a Yukon XL owner.
Does the GMC Yukon XL use truck or SUV tires?
These are basically the same category. On and off road tires especially are often used on large SUVs like the Yukon XL, Suburban, and Jeep brand vehicles but are also available in sizes and with treads that readily accommodate trucks.
In many ways, the GMC Yukon XL is built on a similar platform to the GMC Sierra and Canyon. The difference is that the Yukon XL has more seats and to some, a more plush ride. The owners might have different intentions though - with truck drivers not always actively seeking the best ride.
With that said, there aren’t true distinctions between truck tires and SUV tires. To get the best real performance out of a tire, consider its ratings and what people have written about it - and tests regarding stopping distance or lap times, instead of the name or classification of a tire.
Do I need a spare tire for my Yukon XL?
You could justify a spare tire for just about any vehicle. This is especially true if you drive in an area with lots of pot holes or you head off-road frequently and are in danger of puncturing a tire on a rock or exposed pavement.
The bigger deal is getting the spare tire out. Some years of Yukon XL can store a spare tire underneath, which does dig into your ground clearance, but can be worth it for people who drive mostly on streets and highways. This video gives you a good idea about how to get it down.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding