Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

With the high school graduation of my teen daughter MiKaiya, who is off to college soon, we planned an Arizona getaway with the entire family and some friends as her celebratory gift. She loves the heat but loves resort pools and shopping even more, and the Grand Canyon State has plenty of each. In total, there were six of us, so I scheduled the new 2021 GMC Yukon AT4 in Summit White to transport us from place to place while touring during our weeklong vacation.

If you are looking into a new full-size SUV for the family, I suggest checking out the latest Yukon in either the Denali or AT4 trim. I’ve spent much time behind the wheel of both and remain impressed by the American SUV’s attention-grabbing styling and technological upgrades. Plus, we needed the comforting three rows in addition to rear stowage for all of our luggage. Furthermore, the 3rd-row automatically folds and unfolds from an overhead switch, and the 2nd and 3rd-rows both can be controlled from the cargo area. And yes, the seats collapse perfectly. The older teens took over the dual captain chairs with lounging features and the entertainment screens.

We flew from Washington, DC to Phoenix, Arizona, and after being cramped on the 5-hour flight, it was a joy to situate inside the Yukon, where we all had our personal space. On the road, the Yukon AT4 moved fluidly from its 5.3-liter V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management, which can operate anywhere from a 2-liter to an 8-liter depending on power needs. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The power retractable running boards (with perimeter lighting) were wide enough for confidently stepping on to enter and exit the sizeable SUV; cameras are omnipresent to maneuver the Yukon safely, and WiFi was perfect because there were more than a few places where we didn’t receive reception. Bose audio, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and two-toned seats add to the vehicle’s impressive presentation.

My wife and I are Marriott Bonvoy members and selected the Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas Scottsdale to lay our heads to rest. En route, we first stopped at Green New American Vegetarian to load up on vegan burgers and Nami Vegan Sweet for some healthy treats. After the 30-minute drive to the Sheraton in Scottsdale, we were elated to see the area’s amenities. Inside, the rooms were huge and featured a complete living room, washer/dryer, and a full kitchen for cooking, which meant we had to use the GMC just as we would if back home by shopping at the local Trader Joe’s for groceries and Target for supplies. Due to the 100-degree heat, the Rawlins crew decided to stay in Scottsdale for food and activities instead of some of the other Phoenix spots we previously earmarked.

Things to do here include:

  • Bowl of Greens Healthy Kitchen and Juice Bar for Smoothies
  • Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
  • Flower Child Restaurant for an exquisite vegan dinner
  • Shopping at Scottsdale Promenade, whether it’s Nordstrom Rack or New Balance
  • Top Golf for competition
  • Morning run at Scottsdale Sports Complex
  • Harkins Theatres Scottsdale for a movie
  • Massages at Spa Envy

From destination to destination, our AT4 model always stood out from the SUV crowd. It gives the Yukon a more authoritarian demeanor and aggressive profile. How so? GMC blessed the AT4 with red tow hooks, Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, stylish 20″ aluminum rims outlined by Carbon Grey Metallic accents, a skid plate, and a bold front fascia. AT4 also adds the Traction Select System with off-road mode and Hill Descent Control, which could be very useful in Arizona.

Expect to pay $64,800 MSRP for the 4WD AT4 and $74,960 for my loaded model. The temporary escape from the norm was good as we all reveled in the peace and tranquility in Arizona with one another. Freeing the mind, reenergizing, eating clean daily, and returning with more profound ideas and work ethic has always been the key to our family success.