|15/22 MPG||Fuel Efficiency||14/19 MPG|
|5,379 LBS||Curb Weight||5,576 LBS|
|8/2||Color Options (Exterior/Interior)||5/1|
As a whole, it’s hard not to appreciate the great strides made by the crossover/SUV segment to anticipate every possible need and desire of today’s car buyers. Whether intended for use by active families, practical urbanites, outdoor enthusiasts or for professional means, today’s offerings stand as testaments to versatility, comfort and (in some cases) even luxury. And it goes without saying that it’s the higher end of any given lineup where such efforts feel the most organic. At higher price points, there seems to be more ‘room to breathe’ for automakers, allowing them to be tactful in their choice of both amenities and comfort features to create an offering that’s unique in its value proposition. And if diminishing the appearance of a ‘kitchen sink mentality’ is the goal, well, a great example of thoughtful design comes in comparison of the 2019 GMC Yukon vs 2019 Nissan Armada.
Setting aside special editions, each has a prominent seating among their respective lineups, standing as exemplary depictions of brand design philosophy and engineering. That said, how do they measure up against one another? Let’s take a closer look at each to get a better understanding. Maybe we’ll even throw a little subjective score-keeping into the mix. Sound good?
Kicking things off, the 2019 GMC Yukon is a three-row SUV with seating for (up to) 8 passengers, available in either 2WD or 4WD. Priced to start around $49,100 MSRP the Yukon features a refined number of trim levels and options, as one would expect from GMC. It’s served up in both standard (203.9-inch) and XL extended (224.4-inch) lengths. In the standard length you have the option of choosing from SLE ($50,395 MSRP) SLT Standard Edition ($55,695 MSRP) SLT ($58,495 MSRP) and Denali trims (from $67,495 MSRP). Opting for the extended length, you’ll find the trims broken out the same way but the slightly higher price points stretch from $53,095 - $70,195 MSRP.
The 2019 Nissan Armada is also a three-row offering with seating for (up to) 8 passengers and is also available in either 2WD or 4WD. Although the Armada lacks the option of an extended length variant, it comes with a number of trim levels and special editions to choose from. These include the SV (starting at $46,790 MSRP) SL (from $50,850 MSRP) Platinum (from $62,090 MSRP) and Platinum Reserve (from $65,090 MSRP). That said, the Yukon offers the advantage of variants while, overall, the Armada offers a notable pricing advantage.
When it comes to design, a comparison will always be subjective, influenced by the preferences of the reviewer. And while I’d love to say this review is the exception, I’d be lying. That said…
One of GMC’s greatest strengths comes in the strength of their design philosophy and the consistent manner in which its applied to their truck and SUV offerings. With this in mind, the Yukon is (expectedly) on-brand in its appearance, with GMC’s recognizable grille, headlight and front-fascia making the immediate first impression. But to what effect? If you’re a fan of the aesthetic, it’s a choice that offers reassurance. However, outside GMC’s core fan-base, the lack of distinctive features prevent the Yukon from assuming an identity of its own, at least at the lower trim levels. In terms of profile, the Yukon strikes an intimidating profile, albeit one expectedly indifferent from its corporate cousin, the Suburban. But even as you approach the Denali level, there is an absence of personality found in the Yukon, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
On the other hand, when it comes to the Armada, Nissan does an impressive job of splitting the difference between brand consistency and distinctive model-specific design. While consistent with its stablemates in terms of front-fascia, the Armada feels unique overall. Part of this is a result of its distinctive dimensions and proportions. But from the venting below the grille, all the way around its striking profile, the Armada is appreciable on its own merits. Its sleek contouring accentuates its athletic appearance, contrasting the bulky intimidation offered by the Yukon.
In selecting a favorite, the Armada takes an easy win on this. Not only does it display a better balance in terms of design sensibilities, it’s simply a better-looking vehicle with a personality all its own.
With our ‘Subjectivity Warning’ out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the overall cabin experience offered by both vehicles. And as with the exterior, (in my rarely humble opinion) there’s a clear winner here.
Even in lower trim levels, GMC’s SUV lineup is known for their success in emulating the sensibilities of higher-priced, aspirational offerings. This eye for luxury has served them well, leading to smart design choices and material selections, and creating a truly luxury-inspired environment for drivers and passengers alike. Climb into a Yukon and (regardless of seating configuration) you’ll find a spacious comfortable cabin, with head and leg-room to spare. You’ll be faced with graceful, sloping surfaces built from touch-friendly materials. And drivers will find an ideal seating position, with a well-designed gauge cluster and an intuitive blend of both manual and touch-interface controls. Ascend trim levels and you’ll find comfort features such as heated-and-ventilated front seating, and tasteful aesthetic accents like the Mystique Ash wood grain, along with the functional convenience of a Heads-Up display.
And while the Armada is comfortable, the innovative design enjoyed in its exterior fails to carry over to its interior. Simply put, the interior design is uninspired, the materials feel mismatched in terms of appearance and somewhat cheap-to-the-touch. While this improves somewhat at higher trim levels, we simply like the Yukon better in this regard.
The SLE, SLT Standard and SLT trim levels of the Yukon are powered by a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine that churns out 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Moving up to the Denali, the Yukon gains a slight upgrade to a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 bumping the power ratings up to 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
Beginning with the SV trim, the Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter DOHC 32-valve engine paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Channeling 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque, it enjoys a slight advantage over the Yukon at the starting line. That said, the same engine and drivetrain configuration is present in all trim levels, making it feel like the Armada offers ‘nowhere to go’ in terms of performance. So, with this in mind, we have to give it to the Yukon.
Setting the discussion for aesthetics and comfort, it goes without saying that amenities can be a deal-breaker in today’s tech-centric world. Today’s drivers reflect an evolved sensibility when it comes to their expectations of any vehicle, let alone the ever-accommodating SUV.
That said, the Yukon comes on strong. Serving up such features you’d expect, such as Bluetooth connectivity, and smartphone integration in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it ticks the boxes you would expect. However, the standard inclusion of 4G LTE Wi-Fi as an option, as well as a 9-speaker BOSE sound system and 110-volt outlet make for tasteful, and welcome inclusions. By the time you get up to the Denali, that BOSE system is upgraded to 10-speakers, and you have gained wireless charging capabilities, and the available option of rear entertainment systems. In our opinion, it’s ‘just enough’ in a world of ‘too much’.
But the Armada is a competitor, offering (in the SV trim) a 13-speaker BOSE system, Bluetooth connectivity (with audio streaming) as well as the subscription options for both HD and SiriusXM Satellite radio. Higher trim levels introduce dual-monitor Tri-Zone entertainment systems, but one can’t help but notice the absence of Apple and Android smartphone integration. While Bluetooth streaming gets the job done, the absence of basic integration features makes the Armada feel a little dated.
Among its standard equipment (at the base level) the Yukon features a 7-airbag system, rear vision camera, daytime running lamps and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. It even includes Front and Rear park assist. But jump up to the Denali, and the Driver Assistive features expand to include Forward Collision Alert, Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Keep with Departure Warning, Lane Change and Side Blind Spot alert. A strong array of safety-related features.
The Armada isn’t breaking any new ground in terms of safety features, at least at the base SV level. That said, it almost mirrors the Yukon’s features by the time you get to the Platinum Reserve level. That said, we’ll call this one a draw.