Trucks & SUVs

Why Wasn’t the GMC Yukon Hybrid a Success?

GMC has been teasing us with the reveal of its all-new Hummer EV, which is a fully electric pickup truck. You can think of this electrified Hummer as GMC trying to seek redemption from the previous epic gas-guzzling version. The revelation of the Hummer EV came as a shock to many of us but actually, GMC isn’t new to alternative fuel vehicles. For instance, the carmaker made an impact in the hybrid market with the GMC Yukon hybrid back in 2007. It seemed like a compelling option, but why wasn’t it a success?

A truck-based SUV with a gasoline-electric powertrain

2009 Yukon Hybrid ⎹ GMC

For a bit of background, 2007 was actually a pretty big year for hybrids. This was the same year that the Toyota Prius rose in popularity and when we first introduced to the Toyota Camry hybrid among others from Lexus, Nissan, and more. GMC’s parent company General Motors was among those looking to compete in this arena too and decided to make hybrid versions of some of their most popular SUVs, one of them being the Yukon. 

The Yukon hybrid officially debuted in 2008. It was powered by a forceful V8 engine and a pair of electric motors. The Yukon hybrid invariably changed between its traditional gas engine and the electric motors. Together, the power sources generated a 369-horsepower.

This hybrid was also pretty cool because it could tow up to 6,200 pounds and provided the same comfort level as the traditional gas-driven Yukon. The Yukon hybrid was also special because it proved that a capable hybrid didn’t have to come in the form of a sedan or hatchback body style. 

The Yukon hybrid was pretty cool, but not impressive 

In some ways, you could say that the Yukon hybrid was simply ahead of its time. Sure, going green was still a thing at the time of its debut but the initiative wasn’t as elevated as it is now. This is partly why the Yukon hybrid didn’t have long-term success. Also, the fuel economy for the Yukon hybrid was good, but not impressive by any means. 

Up until its final year of production in 2013, the Yukon hybrid only had about six more mpg than the regular Yukon. At the same time there were multiple hybrids that could get 50 mpg so the Yukon wasn’t a stand out in the hybrid class at all. 

GMC also might have done too good of a job with making the Yukon hybrid ride like the regular version. The hybrid version almost had the same handling and as we mentioned, the fuel economy wasn’t that much better. However, the price was significantly higher on the Yukon hybrid compared to the original. 

Ultimately not a match for challenging economic times 

The Yukon hybrid was ultimately no match for the Great Recession that spanned between 2007 to 2009. So, it’s safe to say that General Motors’ hybrid rollout plan came at the completely wrong time. During the Great Recession, we saw gas prices fall and unemployment rise almost like what we were seeing now. When gas prices are cheap, hybrids and EVs usually take a backseat.

If you are interested in buying a used Yukon hybrid, they aren’t too hard to find. It wasn’t a bad model, time just wasn’t on its side.