Which Is Safer, a 2021 GMC Yukon XL or a 2021 Chevy Suburban?

Both the 2021 GMC Yukon XL and the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban are among the biggest SUVs on the road. Their passenger capacity and cargo space make them desirable for people with big families or the need to transport a month’s worth of groceries. The real question is, which is safer, the 2021 GMC Yukon XL or the 2021 Chevy Suburban?

A 2021 GMC Yukon at a car show.
2021 GMC Denali Yukon | Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

Bigger vehicles tend to be safer than their smaller counterparts. The weight combined with the height of these vehicles result in a lower death rate for occupants (though a higher rate for the occupants of smaller cars involved in crashes with bigger SUVs and trucks). 

It’s not just size that makes an SUV safe, though. Safety organizations take lots of things into account. Crash tests measure how well the vehicles do in front and side crashes, as well as how airbags deploy and the effectiveness of seatbelts.  Added safety features can help avoid crashes, which of course is the safest thing of all. 

How safe is the 2021 GMC Yukon XL?

A 2021 GMC Denali Yukon at a car show. The Yukon is similar to the Chevy Suburban, but which is safer?
2021 GMC Denali Yukon | Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

The 2021 GMC Yukon XL scored a 58 on Consumer Reports’ overall metric. Its routine handling was only adequate, and its braking subpar, getting a two out of five.

The Yukon XL does come with collision warning, automatic emergency braking (city) and pedestrian detection. If you want highway emergency braking or lane departure warning, you’ll need to pay extra. The 2021 GMC Yukon XL has standard front and side airbags and head protection standard with rollover. 

The IIHS doesn’t have ratings for the 2021 GMC Yukon, but the NHTSA does. The 2021 GMC Yukon XL has an overall crash rating of four out of five stars. So does the overall frontal crash. The overall drivers side frontal crash rating is a little bit better, at five stars, with the passenger side getting four.

Side crash ratings for the 2021 GMC Yukon XL are excellent; five stars for the overall side, side-crash driver and side-crash passenger. The side pole-crash test, which measures how well a vehicle does when it slides sideways and crashes into a pole on the driver’s side at 20 MPH, is also five stars.

Rollover ratings on the 2021 GMC Yukon XL are only adequate, at three stars for both the 2WD and the 4WD. 

How Safe is the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban?

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Like its GMC counterpart, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban comes standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking for the city, and pedestrian detection. Highway automatic braking is extra, as is lane departure warning and keeping assist. 

The 2021 Chevy Suburban has a rear camera, optional rear traffic crossing warning, and blind spot warning. Standard front side airbags come with the 2021 Chevy Suburban, which protect the torso in event of an accident. Additionally, it has side curtain airbags standard with rollover.

The overall crash, overall frontal-crash and overall frontal-crash passenger scores for the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban are good, at four out of five stars. The overall frontal-crash driver score is excellent, at five out of five stars. 

The overall side crash, overall side-crash driver, and overall side-crash passenger ratings are also excellent, at five stars. The side pole-crash rating for the 2021 Chevy Suburban is fantastic at five stars. 

Similar to the 2021 GMC Yukon XL, both the 2WD and 4WD Suburbans scored three out of five stars in the rollover category.

Both the 2021 GMC Yukon XL and the 2021 Chevy Suburban have recalls.

Both the 2021 GMC Yukon XL and the 2021 Chevy Suburban have four current recalls. This isn’t surprising, considering how similar the two vehicles are. The recalls largely have to do with the seat belts, so it’s worth making sure that any vehicle you buy has already been repaired. 

So which is safer, the 2021 GMC Yukon XL or the 2021 Chevy Suburban?

A 2021 Chevy Suburban is revealed at a car show. The Suburban is very similar to the GMC Yukon.
2021 Chevrolet Suburban | Bill Pugliano via Getty Images

Both vehicles are manufactured by GM, meaning they are essentially the same vehicle. Since the safety ratings and standard safety equipment are equal, the safest vehicle is going to be the trim option with the most added safety features. 

The Chevy Suburban is a little cheaper than the GMC Yukon XL, so this may be the better choice if you can afford a trim option with more safety equipment. If money is no object, you can’t go wrong with either the Yukon or the Suburban.