By on April 5, 2016

2016 GMC Yukon, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

“My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests.”

— Walter Kirn 

I quote Mr. Kirn to begin this review not only because his novel, Up In The Air, may as well be an unauthorized Bark M. biography, but because he’s right. Writers need to go to New York. More specifically, autowriters need to go to the New York International Auto Show. Detroit is the biggest. Geneva gets all the supercars. But to see and be seen? To network with fellow writers? To get your finger on the pulse of what’s shaking in the car biz?

There’s only one show that matters, and that’s New York.

That is why your friend Bark, and your other friend Bozi, found themselves standing at the National Emerald Aisle at LaGuardia Airport trying to pick a car. We had flown to New York’s dirtiest airport, sure, but we needed to get to New York. We needed a car for that task. And of the cars they had available, none seemed as cool, hip, or just downright gangster as the black 2016 GMC Yukon hiding in the corner.

We convinced the lot attendant that we were very important business customers who needed a free upgrade, and just like that, we headed toward our shared Airbnb brownstone in Brooklyn.

What a terrible — yet wonderful — choice we made.

Driving to New York, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

Driving in New York is not like driving anywhere else in America. Yes, other cities are crowded. Yes, other cities have narrow lanes. Yes, other cities even have angry drivers. But there is something particularly unique about navigating the streets of New York’s the five boroughs. The environment and the absolute pressing need of every New Yorker to get everywhere as fast as fast as possible combines for a wildly stressful driving experience.

You might think that the vastness of the GMC Yukon’s luxuriously appointed cabin would be just the place to escape the turmoil of the city. You’d be mostly wrong.

As we drove into the Brooklyn, Bozi and I began to suspect that we had chosen … poorly.

2016 GMC Yukon rear, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

The Yukon’s dimensions are proper in, say, Kentucky horse country, but it’s a virtual MechaGodzilla in New York. It just doesn’t fit anywhere. Not in parking spaces. Not on the ramps of parking garages. Not in the center lane of the West Side Highway. Nowhere. When you drive it, other people honk at you just because you’re offending their New York sensibilities. I can’t count the number of times I was just driving along, minding my own business, when somebody blared their horn at me.

But that’s not even the best sensory disturbance that being in the captain’s seat of the Yukon provides. That award is reserved for the damnable Enhanced Driver Alert System. In theory, it’s a great idea. If you’re driving the Yukon and you find yourself too close to other drivers, or perhaps veering ever-so-slightly out of your lane, the big GMC shakes your ass like you’re a dancer in a Luther Campbell video. Wonderful. However, in New York, it’s a goddamned nuisance. The lanes of the city are so narrow and the traffic is so close that the Yukon is convinced you’re always about to hit something. I have sat in massage chairs that vibrated less. If somebody here knows how to turn it off, please contact me at [email protected] or call me an idiot on Twitter, because I navigated through every menu option on the damn thing and couldn’t figure it out.

Bozi thought it was funny to take video of my constant vibration. He was right.

2016 GMC Yukon Interior Front Dash and Seats, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

All that aside, there’s a lot to like about the Yukon.

The Yukon feels solid. Everything about it has the sense of a product that’s been manufactured in some variation for the last bajillion years, because it has been. Our SLT trim rental included every creature comfort imaginable: heated and cooled leather seats, power folding second and third row seating, automatic liftgate, 8-inch IntelliLink screen, as well as a 4.5-inch screen for the driver, and 4G LTE wireless data services. And for all of those devices that will be using that glorious data, there are enough power outlets to light up Times Square at night.

2016 GMC Yukon Interior Rear Seats, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Passenger and cargo space is best described as “infinite.” Seating is quite comfortable, and passengers have access to their own power outlets and climate controls. In fact, Bozi preferred sitting in the back. He tried to give me a black suit and a cap to wear, but that’s where I drew the line.

On the rare occasions that I drove the Yukon at more than 5 miles per hour, I found it delightful. There’s more than enough grunt generated by the 5.3-liter Ecotec V8 to tell even the most aggressive of cab drivers that you mean business when you switch lanes. Its 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque are available at the ready even in the lowest rev ranges. The six-speed automatic transmission worked smoothly enough for my purposes, providing the right gear at the right time in most circumstances.

IntelliLink in 2016 GMC Yukon, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

The premium Bose nine-speaker audio system, combined with Apple’s superb CarPlay, allowed us to thump out the most Brooklyn-worthy beats as we cruised up to the Park Slope neighborhood to get our (well, Bozi’s) necessary daily coffee. Perhaps the most surprising thing about having a Yukon in Brooklyn was the relative ease with which I could find parking spaces. I never had to circle our block at 22nd and 4th more than once or twice to find a good spot at any time of day.

Bark M. driving 2016 GMC Yukon in New York, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

In Manhattan? Well … I had to navigate some pretty tricky parking ramps. I think my FitBit Charge HR registered a heart rate in excess of 100 bpm a few times as I tried to park the big beast in the Battery Park parking garage. I don’t mind admitting that the Super Driver Safety Techno Pack was quite helpful when it came to figuring out exactly where the hell the nose of the Yukon was as I went up the ramp. It was the least Drift King method possible for driving into a garage. 

2016 GMC Yukon at gas station in New York, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

Gas mileage wasn’t abysmal, either. We observed about 15.4 miles per gallon with nearly all of our driving done in start/stop conditions. In four days of driving, including a few trips back and forth to LGA and JFK to pick up and drop off fellow credentialed writers, we only had to stop for gas once. Not bad.

What all the GM bashers (myself included, at times) tend to forget when we bemoan the lack of refinement in some of the General’s cars is that this truck — this truck, right here — is what GM does better than anybody. It’s not cheap by any means. Our rental would have stickered out at $58,195 with all the included currently available offers. But it’s just so good. It often seemed as though there was no task I could ask of it that it couldn’t do. Maybe it’ll do those things with the grace of a hippopotamus from Fantasia, but it gets the job done. If I could somehow afford to have one of these as a kid-carrying, race-car towing, grocery-hauler in the Bluegrass, I’d jump all over it.

2016 GMC Yukon outside Starbucks in New York, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

In the city? Well … there is something to be said for being big enough and powerful enough that everybody on the street can see you. Nobody dared mess with the Yukon (except for the Nissan Rogue-driving woman who not only cut me off, but also a school bus in the process of making her right-hand turn from the left-hand lane heading into the Battery tunnel). It also proved to be quite helpful in taking large quantities of autowriters from one salacious party to the next.

In reality, the only competition for the Yukon comes from its stablemate, the Chevrolet Tahoe, which isn’t any cheaper, and might even cost you more when you pick the features you want. Whereas the Tahoe can fade into the background nearly anywhere, like Nuke Laloosh, the Yukon announces its presence with authority.

As we went to return the Yukon to our rental car company, we noticed a few large scrapes on the bumper collected by the GMC as it sat parked overnight outside our brownstone. Luckily, we had insurance, so we didn’t stress it too much. It seems as though nobody leaves the city the same as they were when they enter it, not even the Yukon. Even with the scrapes, I’m willing to guess that our 2016 GMC Yukon rental probably looked a little less beaten up than Bozi and I did after our time in the city.

If only I could have taken it home with me to Kentucky, where it could live out a life of fall Keeneland meets and soccer team transportation. Somehow, though, I think our Yukon will be able to take on the city again just fine.

[Images: © 2016 Bark M. and Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]

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173 Comments on “2016 GMC Yukon Rental Review – In The Big City...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    I actually amazed myself; for s**ts and giggles I did a build&price on a Tahoe. You can actually load one up to $72,000 sticker price.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    A fairly similar experience was had on the Tahoe LTZ we (unintentionally) rented for a road trip to Illinois last summer, except ours had the middle captain’s chairs and space was never an issue (the farm show we attended was held at an airfield).

  • avatar

    The
    Are SUV’s such as the Expedition and Yukon go unnoticed here by all but Limo companies and the largest of families.
    $70,000 transaction prices.
    So-so interior luxury.

    Basically just people haulers of a bygone era.

    • 0 avatar
      kkop

      Well, in your neck of the woods maybe; here in ATL’s burbs, they are a very common sight. They have replaced the top-of-the-line minivans it seems like in a lot of families.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Yukon Denali is pretty popular in the land of Range Rovers, Cayennes and the GLS.

      In fact, more so than the gawdy previous generation Escalade (the new Escalade is doing better).

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I complained (politely & constructively) to Mark S yesterday that TTAC’s been stale for the last week, and fireworks go off today with 1) Jack’s excellent (regardless as to whomever agrees/disagrees with all/some/none of it) new auto-socioeconomic piece, 2) the tenuous position Musk has just placed Tesla in with the Model 3 (Code Name: A Capex Bridge Too Far) publicity deposit/pre-order stunt, and 3) a Bark review of an en vogue vehicle.

    You’re all welcome,

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      At least you keep yourself humble.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      And now there’s a Ford-movie h-more-American-jobs-to-Mexico article!!!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        *Cadillac Motor & Bodybuilding Co. of SoHo, PLLC announced that they are canceling their plan to bring a flagship C8 to market, permanently.*

        (Seriously.)

        You can thank the milquetoast CT6 (it will sell maybe 10,000 units per year at heavy discounting, losing money on each unit sold), and more importantly, Cadillac’s inept marketing, clueless management and executives, and vehicles such as this Yukon, the Escalade and the Tahoe (all spacious vehicles with a V8 under the hood) for that wise decision.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Say it ain’t so, Johan.

          Source?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/future-cars/news/a28725/cadillac-ct8-cancelled/

            “Cadillac’s bold plan to revitalize its sales and image seems to have hit a snag: According to Autoline, plans for a Cadillac CT8 to compete with the Mercedes S-Class have been officially cancelled.”

            ……This just in. Cadillac CT8 program cancelled. Was to be flagship sedan for the brand. No doubt market shift to CUVs & SUVs played a role.
            — Autoline (@Autoline) April 5, 2016

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Correction (grammatical) to above:

          *Cadillac Motor Carriage Co. of SoHo, PLLC announced that they are canceling their plan to bring a flagship CT8 to market, permanently. The lame, hideous CT6 is and will now be the Cadillac “flagship.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/future-cars/news/a28725/cadillac-ct8-cancelled/

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They’ve backtracked so much on what their “flagship” sedan is, ever since the demise of the DTS. It’s a complete joke now.

            Their flagship sedan facsimile is the Escalade.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            DARE GREATLY IN THE ARENA WHILST PLAYING WITH DOLLS, MOTHERFACKERS!!!!

            HAHAAAHAAAHAAAAAA!!!!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Its the Escalade, which is a Tahoe first and foremost.

            #FailGreatly

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Cadillac is just about completely worthless whether they have a terrible selling “flagship” sedan or not.

            They have no name equity, no fanbase, no chance at international success, and no reason to exist. GM should axe the brand.

            A high-trim LaCrosse replaces the XTS just fine, a “Denali Platinum” replaces the Escalade, give the XT5 to GMC, and send the ATS or CTS (no need for both) to Chevy as the Nova/Chevelle with the price pegged to FCA’s LX cars.

            The CT6 doesn’t go anywhere but the history books. It joins the 9-4x, Aspen Hybrid, and Solstice Coupe in the hall of “cars only built for a few months”.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            If the CT8 Flagship is cancelled, what will they put the 2.0T into?

            Oh, everything else.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            Step 1: Stop pretending you are a premium brand.
            Step 2: Stop pretending the CT6 is anything but the return of the Seville/STS.
            Step 3: Price Seville correctly, drop I4 option in USDM.
            Step 4: Drop one of the Alpha Sedans.
            Step 5: Enjoy lukewarm success.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Absent my plan to save Cadillac (a HO V6 or V8 under every hood, absolutely plush riding, capacious, meticulously assembled, uber reliable, bank-vault solid, quiet as a European Cathedral, torque and horsepower rich, real metal, leather and wood everywhere inside, intense customer service friendly vehicles)…

            …there’s only this Hail Mary with Cadillac’s current model lineup (save the Escalade):

            ATS – $0 down, $259/month lease; $28,999.00 MSRP

            CTS – $0 down, $299/month lease; $33,999.00 MSRP

            XT5 (now getting bad initial reviews) – $0 down, $319/month lease; $34,999.00 MSRP

            CT6 (now starting to get panned after initial knob slobbering by auto presstitutes is over) – $0 down, $359/month lease; $36,999.00 with 2.0T, $40,999.00 with ubiquitous GM 3.6 liter

            Blow out the now defunct XTSlaCrosse on $0 down, $279/month leases

    • 0 avatar
      vovencius

      The lowest point of the TTAC (Long Time Lurker here) were Doug De Muro articles.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “What all the GM bashers (myself included, at times) tend to forget when we bemoan the lack of refinement in some of the General’s cars is that this truck — this truck, right here — is what GM does better than anybody.”

    This is the truth. It’s worth noting that there’s a major jump in interior quality between the SLT and the Denali; however the Denali is grossly overpriced to begin with.

    Turning the Safety Alert Seat (vibrating seat) off is done in the Personalization Menus. From the MyLink screen in the center stack, you’ll select SETTINGS > VEHICLE > COLLISION/DETECTION SYSTEMS > ALERT TYPE. From there, you can change the alerts to either BEEPS or SAFETY ALERT SEAT.

    If you want to turn the alerts off, you’d go to SETTINGS > VEHICLE > COLLISION/DETECTION SYSTEMS and then go into each of the options (AUTO COLLISION PREPARATION, PARK ASSIST, SIDE BLIND ZONE ALERT, REAR CROSS TRAFFIC ALERT) and select OFF.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you!

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        No problem. As a UI / UX developer, I will say that this is extremely counterintuitive. There needs to be a physical switch or quick option to turn all of that stuff off, because it *is* annoying to some people. Honestly, that’d be more useful than the physical “Traction Control Off” buttons that most vehicles have (although in my Golf SportWagen, turning TC off is also done in the infotainment menus).

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          O my god. A UI/UX developer with an automotive bend…. you must be pulling your hair out with all of the awful systems out on the market. Years and years of Fords, Cadillacs and Lexuses rendered unbuyable thanks to silly gimmicky infotainment control schemes…. I feel your pain.

        • 0 avatar
          zaxxon25

          In my ’14 Malibu there’s a switch (lower right on the center console) that turns off the alerts. Surprised they didn’t retain that approach on other vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      I love the menu depth here, it’ll keep everyone busy through multiple traffic signal cycles. Just out of curiosity: what non-Vehicle settings are there in this Settings menu?

    • 0 avatar
      Saxphile

      You beat me to it. Although I doubt I could spell out the exact sequence just from memory. Had an identical rental car from LAX for a round-trip to Vegas, so I had some time to figure it all out.

      Agreed with everything you said in the review, Bark. I was so in love with the dressed-up Tahoe that I seriously contemplated buying one in LA and sending it home (New Zealand)–looked into parts availability and all that. My wife was really surprised given my vehicle ownership history in the last ten years (Acura TSX -> Ford Fiesta -> Subaru Legacy wagon).

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The GMC Yukon, Denali, and its Cadillac cousin are PERFECT vehicles for New York City, for one very simple reason: livery. Few cities in America have more big shots than NYC, and they want to be driven around in something with presence. Since the Town Cars are dying off, big black GM SUVs fit the bill nicely. Of course, limousines don’t have to worry about parking legally, or pissing off other drivers. I think it’s the PA plates that doomed you. If your ‘Yuk had had a T&LC plate…well, you would have STILL been honked at a lot, but people in NYC honk all the time, usually for no reason other than to let you know they exist/are about to overtake you through the space beside you only two inches wider than their car.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    FYI this is now GMs B-body. The car that gets passed down to 2nd and 3rd and 4th owners, soldiering on for far longer than people give it credit for. It becomes a status symbol even for used car buyers that they have scrapped together enough money to buy something that is more durable than that 3rd owner compact they had before.

    Or for the truly thrifty they might buy new (or CPO) and keep it for a decade or two.

    This is what an Impala, Delta 88, Electra 225 were in the 60s and 70s – GM done right.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This is true. It’s very easy to find them a bit worse for wear with very high miles. Just keep on going.

      They get much less ratty than old Navigators and Expeditions for some reason.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “They get much less ratty than old Navigators and Expeditions for some reason.”

        True. Part of me wishes that GM would switch the solid rear axle to independent rear suspension, like the Expedition and Navigator. Then again, a solid rear axle may be more durable in the long run. But once you get to the Denali and Escalade, which have the Magnetic Ride Control, it’s much more complicated and expensive than a standard IRS setup.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Ah crap I forgot the MRC and also the AWD system the Denali and Escalade use, rather than 4×4. They’re bound to be worse later.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I’m pretty sure the AWD on those cars is just the standard 4WD system with an AUTO mode that will briefly engage the front axle in 4HI mode when it detects slippage. You can put it in 2HI mode, which is the standard, fully-RWD pavement mode and ostensibly never worry about excess wear. In that regard, it’s not unlike the part-time AWD systems in most FWD-based cars.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Okay, so for my knowledge – which are the years of AWD on the Denali and Escalade to avoid?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Kyree is right, GM dropped the true AWD these trucks had with the introduction of the K2XX platform.
            The GMT800 1500 Tahoe/burn/Yukon/XL/Escy offered a couple systems
            RWD
            AWD(with no settings)
            AWD with true 4 Low
            True 4WD H&L and auto 4WD < which I believe is the only system other than RWD still available.
            3/4 trucks didn't offer the auto 4WD system

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        It’s the air suspension rule.

        Any vehicle equipped with factory air suspension is destined to become a ratty hoopti, shamelessly sagging under the weight of its 4th owners neglect.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This seems to apply universally, with one exception.

          The Lexus LS. I’ve never seen a saggy one.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            In the LS the struts tend to fail well before the air system itself for some reason. You won’t see a saggy one, but you’ll hear plenty of clunking and clonking from the BHPH-quality examples.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Guess I’ll have to roll down me windows more. Air shocks on the Deville need replaced sooner or later – but good lord the shop wants $800 to do them.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            Isn’t there an air ride conversion kit?

            http://www.suncoreindustries.com/cadillac-suspension-parts.php

            http://www.suncoreindustries.com/CADILLAC-SEDAN-DEVILLE-1985-1993-suspension.php

            The rear only kit is $295, AFAIK there was no 4 wheel air ride in the C-body Deville (perhaps Fleetwood?).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think so – when my shop told me the cost to replace, I asked about conversions. They won’t do them because it’s not a manufacturer part.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What kind of shop is this? Only a dealer should be so obtuse.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They hesitate to throw parts at things, and have actually -refused- my money before.

            I’m like “Here, take my money and fix this.”

            Them: “No, that might not work, so no.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would do more research then as you’re either out money on factory parts (assuming they are still made), aftermarket parts, or an aftermarket conversion kit. Personally I would drop the air ride for a spring kit after ensuring the brand/design of kit was well made.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The shop said getting the shocks was not a problem. But realistically, spending that sort of money on THAT car to keep the air ride factory and operable is nonsense.

            The replacement parts seem (per that site) to bolt right on, so there’s no reason to keep the air ride and electronic shocks. It just seems overly complicated for no reason other than GM 1993.

            Oh, and it goes into the shop on Friday, to fix:
            -Transmission cooler lines which have slow leak.
            -Coolant leak due to water pump (likely) or bad freeze plug (less likely).

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            @dal20402 — This is true of our family friend’s 2004 Lexus GX, which has rear air suspension.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            I’m sure it needs a water pump, and more than likely you’ll do the serp belt and pulley. My price is typically $400 when I’ve gotten it done. I might also do a tune up unless you’ve got documentation stating otherwise (although you could prob do it yourself). Trans cooler lines are kinda important so hopefully they come up with a permanent fix.

            “It just seems overly complicated for no reason other than GM 1993.”

            Another reason I would simplify things as much as possible.

            but then again

            [sings] The only way to travel, is Cadillac style.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, oh yes it’ll be simplified. Since the suspension is currently fine, but will eventually be not fine I’ve cooked up a plan.

            My family’s birthday present this year will be my dad doing the shocks on there, and I’ll provide the parts and assist.

            The water pump was done at 30K miles in 1998, so it’s not going to surprised me one bit if it needs another. From what I’ve read it’s a common failing on the 4.9.

            On tune up front, they told me when they checked it out that it didn’t need plugs, and I’ve run some fuel injector cleaner through it, 2 cans SeaFoam when I got it, as well as cleaned up the intake manifold manually. What else needs doin?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            It might be too old but transaxle fluid/filter change. Brake fluid change (although a mechanic may advise against it and I would trust their judgement). Coolant change and make sure you get those little pills to drop in for the alum block (unless Prestone has those properties now?). Check I think the exhaust manifold for leaks, something on the exhaust likes to leak. Check brake and fuel lines for corrosion or leaks. Wax and polish leather. I can’t think of anything else.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The leather was done about day three. :)

            They didn’t recommend a brake fluid change, I had them check it over because I think it needs a new master cylinder (mushy pedal slowly goes to floor at stops, but you can pump it back up) and they couldn’t find any pressure issues, or confirm it was in fact the master cylinder. Told me to wait for it to get worse. (?)

            The trans fluid and coolant will both get changed with the work that’s being done on Friday. I have been unable to confirm whether it still needs the coolant pellets with new versions of DexCool. I would hope they know this.

            (Edit: http://bbs.hitechcreations.com/smf/index.php?topic=303258.0) Forum sez the 4.1/5/9 still need the tabs, the Northstar is new enough that it does not. The compensatory newer qualities of modern Dexcool are not enough to make up for lack of tablets in the aluminum engine.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I just picked up a 12 Navi L so I guess I shall find out. 44k and already the air suspension is playing up and the flip-down running boards are failing. Glad I took the bait on the warranty. Cost-wise you get a lot more for your dollar at Ford than you do with GM; durability may be the reason, time will tell.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It depends on what the vehicle is. Some of Ford’s wares are very overpriced. But the full-sized BOF category is one arena in which GM goes to town with the pricing, making the Fords relative bargains.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          The Fords just don’t hold up as well, when you see a late 2000s Ford SUV with the suspension sagging and the rear wheels cambered out from the shoddy IRS system that needs 4 new ball joints, it really hurts the image of the vehicle. Ford would be smart from a resale perspective to bring back the solid axle, but I doubt they’re forward enough to care about the companies future viability from their recent offerings.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I saw a 2005 Navi sitting on the lot of one of our BHPH lots in Gallup and the sticker proudly said “ONE OWNER” – it looked good but I’d wager good money that it was purchased at an auction near one of the retirement communities of AZ. Probably was dealer maintained, spare no expense, since day one.

          I shudder to think of what it’s next life may bring.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Ha ha, the parallels run deep. Ladder frame, live axle, SBC V8…. indeed, the B body lives on :)

    • 0 avatar
      06V66speed

      Rich uncle buys it new. Pampers it.

      Gives it away to yuppie nephew. Nephew drives it with a lead foot just like he does with his 5-Series, and has to replace transmission. Sells it.

      Ends up with new owner which still paid a lot of DeNiro for it. Drives it like a 5-Series. Replaces transmission. Sells it.

      And so on… and so on… and so on…. #cosmicvoice #echo

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I’ve been trying to find an old Yukon that hasn’t been driven into the ground, but it’s not easy…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “FYI this is now GMs B-body.”

      It’s close, but GM made affordable B-bodies and these start at $47K.

      Maybe if they made a 4.3L Tahoe LS for ~$31K.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        True. All of the K2XX SUVs are very expensive. They’re not body-on-frame, but if you’re looking for old-school, RWD Detroit-style metal, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger do a good job of that for not a lot of money, especially used. I’m not an FCA fan, but they have that going for them.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    If you think this is a big bastard, mosey on over to the driver’s seat of a Yukon XL. Then tell me how much of a behemoth the Yukon is.

    These body on frame Tahoes/Yukons (I won’t mention Escalade, as I may throw up in my mouth a little… whoops, too late) provide a utility which until you have used it for throwing your entire family in there whilst towing a heavy trailer you may not even understand.

    They’re glorious. Although I prefer the Suburban or Yukon XL, as I like to be able to throw my entire family in there, whilest pulling a heavy load, *and* filling up that considerable space behind the third row with acreage upon acreage of sh*t. Sh*t like the cooler, overnight bags, fishing poles/tacklebox, and whatever else. Maximum utility for the win.

    Last week, my fiancé and I moved our first load of stuff (yes, stuff was the best word I could come up with… shoot me) to our new home. I stuffed a queen mattress and a sh*tload of large plastic totes into the back of my ’99 Suburban. (Of course, I tied down the box spring onto the roof via the roof rack.)

    And the best part… I only had to fold down the third row while doing so. My fiancé’s three sons all sat comfortably in the second row in transit.

    Handling? Driving dynamics? Neigh.

    Endless utility? Yep.

    It’s a dinosaur. But a dinosaur with a purpose.

    ‘Murica.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “If you think this is a big bastard, mosey on over to the driver’s seat of a Yukon XL…”

      But…it’s the same in almost every dimension, just a little longer out the back.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I had a 2016 Escalade EXT rental earlier this year. That thing was a proper chore to drive if you wanted to do wild things such as change lanes, turn around a corner or park. Why anyone would elect to drive a vehicle that large on a daily basis, I have no idea. And this was in Oklahoma City, where there’s plenty of open space, unlike the crowded NYC metro area.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        You get used to it, especially when your first vehicle is a 3/4 truck.
        It’s second nature to move something this large to me, parking is done in reverse unless your pulling through or parking diagonally.

        GM also screwed the pooch with the side view mirrors on this generation, they are much to small for this size vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          06V66speed

          You really do get used to it.

          For a stark contrast in driving manners, try switching back and forth between an Accord Coupe V6 6-speed and a Suburban.

          Emphasis on stark.

          • 0 avatar
            PeriSoft

            I drove a Navigator 500 miles last spring. When I switched back to my Sonata it felt like a roller skate.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Why didn’t GM just use the same mirrors on the SUVs as the pickups, like they’ve done since the beginning?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Because the true target buyer doesn’t need big mirrors and doesn’t like their effect on the styling or forward visibility. Remember, if one of these is actually used to haul 8 people while towing a trailer, 9 of them are carrying one or two kids to soccer practice.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            The standard pickup mirrors aren’t “big,” though. They’re appropriately sized for the vehicle. The K2’s mirrors are akin the single round driver’s side mirror on a ’67 Burb.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          “GM also screwed the pooch with the side view mirrors on this generation, they are much to small for this size vehicle.”

          Yes, they are. I also think that the wing mirror skullcaps should include turn indicators. GM did change the Escalade’s mirrors (and included indicators) for 2015.5, at the same time it changed the badges to reflect the new Cadillac logo and some of the lower front fascia. So the 2015 vs 2015.5 and later Escalades have different wing mirrors. But the ones on the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon/XL are offensive.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “You get used to it, especially when your first vehicle is a 3/4 truck.”

          Right on! It’s all about what your used to driving. After having my butt planted in a crew cab 3/4 ton PU for many years, the Tahoe felt like a little sports car. 10X easier to park in a lot than the PU. Coming from the Volt, all of a sudden the Tahoe feels like a your driving a battleship. But it’s still easy to park and drive.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It’s no problem in the more spread-out places, but in the denser coastal cities it can be a problem just to find a big enough parking place.

        I semi-recently rented (here in Seattle) a Ram 1500 4×4 crew cab which is about the same size as one of these. It would not fit into most of the garages because it was too tall, and with mirrors out it was physically wider than the spaces in a couple of parking lots.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          +1 About getting used to it. As someone who has drive large trucks and SUVs basically my entire life, maneuvering them is beyond second nature. However, a rental Altima is basically a Corvette.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Yeah the mirrors hang into the next spaces, worst case, but you fold them in. No big deal. Ask any owner if it’s worth the extra effort.

          Plenty of other fullsize SUVs/pickups in any parking lot or structure, everywhere in the US/Canada.

          But a parking garage that’s to low for stock 4X4 fullsize SUVs or pickups, would ban tall people too. The tallest Ram pickup is 6’6″, so a garage that’s too low for it, people 6’4″ or taller would smack their heads on the concrete beams and sue. The lowest garage clearance I’ve seen is 6’8″ and most are closer to 7′ max height.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The parking garage in my downtown Seattle office building has a number of low-hanging pipes and as a result has a 6’0″ car clearance. Other garages nearby are similar. When I had that truck I didn’t have time to drive around looking for a garage with higher clearance and parked in a surface lot on the edge of downtown, a short bus ride from the office.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’d be harder to find a garage that’s 6 ft max, especially if open to the general public. Emergency vehicles couldn’t get in.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I don’t get it. I can put my entire family in my Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “These body on frame Tahoes/Yukons (I won’t mention Escalade, as I may throw up in my mouth a little… whoops, too late) provide a utility which until you have used it for throwing your entire family in there whilst towing a heavy trailer you may not even understand.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. 3 long track snowmobiles in a tandem axle enclosed trailer, 2 buddies, riding gear, & tools, heading from Minnesota to Montana for a week. How do you like me now?

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    It’s great parking a car in a garage, looking back, and realizing that it takes up the entire cube of the parking spot.

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    NYC, the only place I’ve driven where the use of a turn signal is a sign of weakness. Where allowing a safe following distance guarantees getting cut off every 30 seconds. A place where seconds after nearly losing my life thx to a trucker running a red light – I pulled into a home’s driveway to regain my composure and a pedestrian, a stooped old man carrying two bags of canned goods pointedly t-boned me because I blocked the sidewalk. NYC is Beirut with Jews (no offense to the Jewish).
    On an unrelated note, we just wrapped up a two week rental in Austria of a Ford C-Max: two sliding doors and minivan utility on a compact chassis. While not “downright gangster” it got the job done so well that I’m putting one on the short-list for future acquisitions. Yeah, I’m not a baller. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That must have been the Grand C-Max, if it had the sliding doors. We were supposed to get that here, but Ford was reasonably averse to selling a compact minivan here in the States…since the Mazda5 was *so* popular. The standard C-Max is the one that’s sold here, which is a little shorter and has conventional hinged rear doors.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Wow, I’m surprised DiBlasio let this thing into Manhattan in the first place, he probably hates them when he’s not driving one.

    GM and the other American makes have always done trucks well, and this is a truck, so I’m not surprised. Given a large enough canvas to work with, they can create some seriously cushy rolling art. It’s only when you ask them to cram everything into a B- or C-segment package that they have to ask the Italians, Germans, and Koreans for help.

    Clearly though, as you realized, some cars are just too big to be realistically usable in a city, especially one like NYC, which is why people make “city cars” like MINIs and FIATs. Although frankly the ideal car in NYC is yellow and has a meter up front. ;)

  • avatar
    cirats

    What’s the reason for buying one of these over, say, a well-optioned Acadia, or an Acadia Denali? Is the interior really any bigger? Maybe a little more luxurious, but these are a lot more expensive, no? Mostly just style/presence/personal preference?

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    And GOTTDAYUM how much I’d love one of them diesel Burbs.

    Make mine a 2500 with captain’s chairs. Please and thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      There’s no 2500 Suburban anymore. The last one with a diesel option was the GMT400 truck; after that it was the 6.0 and 8.1 gas, and then only the 6.0 in the GMT900 2500s.

      • 0 avatar
        06V66speed

        No 2500? :/

        No bueno.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          It was pretty much pushed out of the market by CC/6.5′ bed 3/4-ton pickups (and even some CC half-tons with a max towing package). The market for a vehicle that can tow 10K and haul 9 people is so small that it’s almost perfectly served by used Excursions and Suburbans.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Dr. Z gon’ give it to you on big trucks &/or diesels! Axe him bout the F-350.

          • 0 avatar
            06V66speed

            Only Ford I’d want is one of them there Excursions with that stankin’ Caterpillar diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            06V6Gspeed-

            Got $20K or more? That’s what a clean one with high mileage is running. These days, you are better off getting a SuperDuty with the 6.7L Scorpion converted to an Excursion.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My realtor shuttled me around in a GMT800 2500 ‘Burb with the 6.0L and 3.73 gears. And even in that somewhat ‘mild’ arrangement that thing moved out nicely. Can’t even imagine what a 8.1 with 4.10 gears would feel like. Super comfy truck, just a bit stiff-legged over really horrible pavement but it felt very solid and I’d rather have some roughness than be bottoming out. Traffic was heavy, but he’d just slowly ease the nose out to assert his intentions to others in the traffic stream he was entering, and then nail the throttle. I don’t even want to know what sort of MPG we were getting LOL

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        I do believe a 2500 Suburban is available now… but fleet and government only.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Yes, as well as a “Suburban 3500HD”. But the increased GVWR (10-14K lbs.) and 6.0 on both models isn’t to make it a tow monster, like earlier Suburban 2500s, but rather to serve as a platform for armored SSVs.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    ‘I can’t count the number of times I was just driving along, minding my own business, when somebody blared their horn at me.”

    Hell, Bark, they’ll do that if you’re driving a Smart. Or if they don’t like your car’s color. Or if they don’t like what’s on the radio. Or if their right armpit is itchy. You’re in New York, baby!

    I once saw two cabbies go at each other with tire irons there.

    I love New York!

    And NYC is not the worst place I’ve driven in – that honor would go to Boston. At least in NYC it’s easy to find your way to the place you’re waiting for an hour to get to. Boston’s street layout is proof positive that 17th century Englishmen had an unlimited supply of LSD.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Boston’s street layout wasn’t established by people, but by cows.

      Driving in New York and Boston is completely different. In New York it’s a DARWINIAN STRUGGLE WHERE ONLY THE FITTEST SURVIVE. In Boston, you just drive or walk wherever you want, without any particular aggressiveness, and deal (i.e., wait) when others do the same. If you’re in the proper mindset driving in Boston is very slow but almost calming.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’m sorry, but I found little calming in Boston and I’ve driven there twice.

        Then again, I’ve never experienced New York during a working day (I’ve only driven there on weekends). So perhaps my perceptions are off.

        • 0 avatar
          06V66speed

          Apparently the General still offers a 3500HD…?

          I don’t recall ever seeing a 3500 Suburban before.

          “That’s a biggin’.”

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          It does take getting into a mindset. You have to learn not to take getting cut off as a slight. None of the locals means it that way. If you cut them off, they just adjust without drama.

          Couldn’t be more different from New York, where the goal is to WIN THE MERGE even if you have a bloody corpse of a car afterward.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I purchased a new Chevy SS back in January. I came to discover that it needed a bit of cosmetic work done so I left it with the dealer for what eventually turned out to be 2 weeks.

    My loaner during that time? A brand-new, black 2016 Suburban LT with just 4 miles on the clock as I drove off. I’m a NY native (Long Island) and gear head and as such, grew up hating trucks. Me and this Suburban formed a bond, though. I grew to love it’s leisurely pace and utility. Move the dining room table and 4 chairs to my storage unit? No problem. Even my 6 year old twins loved it and wanted me to keep it. I liked it but not that much. My SS felt like a Formula 1 car when I got it back, though. Believe it or not, the Suburban got better gas mileage then my gas sucking SS. Not surprising given the difference in displacement between the two, but still!

    That Suburban was pretty cool, though not cool enough for me to plunk down my own money for one.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    This might be extremely controversial…but I’d like this thing better with chrome 20s all around.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I just mentioned this in an article yesterday, but I LOVE piloting a bigger looking vehicle (mostly vertically) in NYC. My old Mazda MPV (4wd minivan/suv thing) was appropriately tall but shorter and no wider than a new Camry. my current 4Runner fits the same bill. My brother took my ‘yota to pick my dad up from JFK after having done some fun backwoods wheeling in PA without first washing it off, and he said he had a WIDE berth of space around him, said it was the least stressful NYC driving he’d ever done. Add to the list of pluses a sturdy suspension and fat sidewalls, so when you’re boxed in and just have to nail that pothole, you can do so without worrying about blowing out a tire or wrecking a balljoint. So I think there is a sweet spot of getting “respect” in the flow of traffic while keeping things small enough to not be a hassle with parking.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    And Re: ‘infinite’ cargo space. With the current generation, they lost a lot of trunk depth in order to achieve a fold flat third row. I preferred the older layout with a removable third row, for overall substatially more room than these latest K2XX trucks. For me, the GMT800 body trucks (00-06?) were the epitome of the series. They gained fuel economy, power, and comfort while retaining the utility and ruggedness of a true truck based SUV. Steel bumpers, no silly sized wheel options.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Or there’s the Toyota / Lexus tactic of allowing you to fold the third row seats vertically against the interior walls, though you end up with a larger blind spot that way.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’ll take a GMT400 over any GM BOF SUV since. It’s better looking, and while the interior is pretty terrible the interiors of all GM BOF SUVs ever built (including the current one; check out the acres of cheap vaguely-metallic plastic in the shots above) have been terrible for their time. Just have to watch for rust like a hawk.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Perfect for a mob captain: Get most of the Escalade’s perks without stepping on Tony Soprano’s toes. /cut to black

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Actually, the Yukon Denali is the one you want if you’re looking for a discounted Escalade. Like the Escalade, the Yukon Denali has the larger 6.2-liter V8 (instead of the 5.3-liter), the Magnetic Ride Control, real wood veneers, upgraded leather, a much nicer instrument panel, etc. But I believe the starting price for a Yukon Denali is something like $64K. Don’t expect much of a discount, either.

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    The summer I was sixteen and my family was visiting NYC, we were in Brooklyn headed for Manhattan when my father pulled the Electra 225 to the curb, got out, walked to my side of the car and said to get out and take his spot behind the wheel. My mother was horrified; my father, adamant. “If he can drive and survive in Manhattan,” he said to mom and my brother, “he can drive anywhere.” Next to an armed robbery I survived, that was the most frightening event of my life but damned if he wasn’t right. I’ve since driven some of the worst streets you can imagine in South America and Europe but nothing was as tough or as intimidating as that drive down 5th Avenue in that Buick.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I own and daily drive a Tahoe in San Diego ever since my T-bird was rear ended and totaled. It’s an awful horrible vehicle that wanders all over the road and hurts my back on longer trips. I regularly drive down the 5 in fear of rear ending someone due to the woefully inadequate braking. I can’t wait until I buy something like a mustang to daily drive, so I can again park it under the tree as the backup.

  • avatar
    TheFirehawkGuy

    I used to “daily drive” a 22 foot long 14,000 lb 2001 Ford F-350 Ambulance in NYC… never got honked at in that thing lol. Even had very little trouble navigating even the tightest drive through lanes! Squeezing past double parked cars on one way streets in Brooklyn became second nature.

    Should have had a TTAC reader meetup while you were in the city that never sleeps!

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      My mom’s boyfriend drives a semi (single axle International cab, I’m guessing either a single axle trailer or a short dual-axle trailer) to Brooklyn on a regular basis. I dunno how he maneuvers that thing, I can’t even park my car in a tight spot.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    One more reason I’ll never live in (or even visit) NY again. Endless liberal, queer loving, tranny supporting, $15 an hour fools honking at me for no reason (other than that I respect God’s word, believe that we all need to EARN our way up the pay scale, and that boys should use the BOY’s restroom not the ladies room because they are feeling “feminine” on any given day.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    With ball-park 10 million toilet bowl flushes full of un-metabolized estrogen from birth control pills flowing into the drinking water daily, can you blame a guy for having a boob growing in his brain?

  • avatar
    jbltg

    If you think there was trouble due to the Pennsylvania plates on the car, just imagine what New Jersey plates would have brought ;)

  • avatar
    ixim

    I love driving in NYC. But then, I’ve had decades of practice. The bigger the car the better. It’s counterintuitive but they are easier to handle in traffic. Except when looking for street parking. So many spots are vacated by small cars. Some tips are to ignore most horns; if you want to change lanes signal, let at least one car go by while you nose over a bit and the next car or two will let you in. On the one way avenues use the second lane from the left for the best speed. Expect cabs to block you. Always let bikes and pedestrians pass. And always look far ahead, often through the windshields of the vehicles in front of you. That way you can plan how to get around the constant obstacles NY will send your way.

    • 0 avatar
      fishiftstick

      You have it exactly, my man.

      I too LOVE driving in New York. People stay alert, there’s no quarter asked or given, and drivers lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

      I’ll take that any day over the incompetent, passive-aggressive, self-righteous, half-asleep dawdlers who infest and blockade the roads where I now live.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        Yah, stay away from those people- they are accidents waiting to happen which will be anywhere. Some of them these days are even cabbies sadly lacking in professionalism. So, chill. Don’t get mad or even- there’s always a parking space a block or two away.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil200

    I drive in Manhatten occasionally. Usually in a XTS, occasionally in an Escalade EXT . The problem is midtown, not the car you are driving. I agree that if anything its easier to drive the Esclade in Midtown then the sedan. Also, you are not gonna park on the street anyway, so find a parking lot. Lots are OK with them, but the first time i drove into one, i thought i was gonna bang my head. So now, I choose lots where they park the car for you. A few bucks more then the already extortion level parking prices are worth it for me.

    Absolutely turn the seat buzzers off. On the highway its an almost comical diversion. In midtown traffic its cool for about 3 minutes.

    I deal with Midtown by taking my time. I don’t care who cuts me off, I practice my Zen chants. Local drivers middle finger me, Cabbies exercise their horns, Pedestrians wonder why they are not being run over. I don’t care. It’s worth it to me to arrive home with at least a few of my last nerves not totally jangled.

    A friend of mine is a native Manhattenite, she drives like a maniac. But the other local drivers recognize her as a member of the tribe, and they all play together in a mechanical ballet that is difficult to watch. More like the running of the bulls. They manage to get to the next light a few nanoseconds faster then I do tho, and for them its worth it.

    About the Escalade, I really try not to like it. I prefer small cars, little sporty cars. This is like piloting a steam ship. You wonder how all the little people ever get by in their little Hondas. You feel bad for them. You adjust the seat, You try not to wave at all the tourists on 7th avenue from your throne. You hear a horn, but you really dont care. I really like the Escalade. I just cant ever admit that I really like the Escalade.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Nice write up Bark. I stopped driving into NYC over 10 years ago mostly due to the scarce and expensive parking in Manhattan. On weekends back then , there were garages that charged $15 per day on weekends which was pricey but tolerable by my cheap standards, but a relative bargain around the theater district.
    The thing that turned me away from driving in NYC the most was the massive back ups leading into the outbound lanes of the Lincoln tunnel even on Sunday nights. I once waited over an hour to get into the tunnel from three blocks away on a Sunday evening. Now I just drive to a train station in NJ or take a bus for the whole trip.
    If I need to fly out of JFK, I come through Staten Island and then head north on the Beltway through Brooklyn . Now that’s a real interesting drive. Four lanes each just wide enough for a subcompact car. No shoulders either. Compared to JFK, Newark airport is a pleasure to access by car.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I recognize Bark from the back of his head. At 1st I though it was Bud Bundy. But is that ‘shuffle steering’?

  • avatar

    Growing up within 20 miles of NYC, I’ve driven there all my life. I’ve learned over time to take my truck in…because the roads are so bad. Mom got free theater tickets, and took one of the kids in the Golf. The $600 repair bill for a bent wheel and dead tire were the real cost of the day. You often cannot swerve or brake to avoid potholes, and they are yuuuge. Lots of folks who daily drive into NYC and have parking drive a SUV of some sort, more than go for a tiny car.

    Since then, I’ll happily pay any upcharge the parking lots toss me, as it is still way cheaper than the damages from the “roads” in NYC. All that toll money you pay ? Flushed to the subway system…

    If you can drive in NYC, nothing else scares you. I’ve been in traffic in a few major cities in Europe…no fear at all…even Paris. I haven’t done pacific rim yet, though….

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I’m not going to argue that the Tahoe is a good car for NYC. It’s not. But this article would have readers think that they don’t exist here and nothing could be farther from the truth. The city streets (even in Manhattan) are full of Tahoes, Yukons and Escalades. They are a favorite for limo companies, Uber, etc. Large groups and families are driven all over town in these things. We all know that all would be better off if these trucks were replaced by minivans but it just doesn’t happen.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    Ya know, as stupid as they are for most people who own them, I freakin’ love these beasts. There just isn’t anything else like driving one of these. I’m a Ford boy through-and-through but I love me a Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban/Yukon XL. I ought to drive an Expedition..

    I just like these big things. Nothin’ else like it.

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