BY Andrea Brands | Director, Consumer Education and Safety at…
The GMC Yukon Denali XL is a beast of a vehicle, yet somehow, it is refined enough to make you forget you’re driving a haus of a truck. Ours came in a beautiful brown metallic, which read like more of a muted plum to us. Its uniqueness contrasted well with the striking front LED lights that bend over the hood and cascade down to the front bumper. They’re the kind of decorum that make the new Yukon Denali easy to identify on the road.
We were beach bound, heading to Wlimington, North Carolina to visit a friend who’s got it made down there – condo on the waterway and a couple of boats. Compared to the rigid ways of the city, his life seems to be much more enjoyable; it’s no wonder he lives there!
We had about a six-hour drive ahead of us, and yes, we brought the #batenpups, Bandito and Popcorn. We packed in their crates and secured them via bungee cords in the middle of the vehicle, laying forward the middle row of seats to give them a flat surface from which they could see us in the front.
The pups were living in luxury (albeit confined to their crates) in the back of the Yukon XL. The airiness surrounding them made us feel as though we didn’t pack enough stuff, people or pets!
Looking back from the driver’s seat, the 130-inch wheelbase is obvious. The Yukon XL’s cabin is expansive, extending an extra 14 inches beyond the regular model, making the Yukon XL a total of 224.3 inches long. The standard Yukon would have sufficed for our needs on this particular trip, but hey, it’s a road trip in an amazing people-hauler — we were willing to make the most of it!
Ginormous GMC…and that’s okay
There’s something about getting in the driver’s seat of such a big, commanding vehicle as the Yukon Denali. You feel like a captain ready to charter the heavy seas. Your presence is known without any effort on your part. People notice you, and they usually get out of the way.
The 2015 Yukon XL Denali can haul a whopping 7,900 lbs behind it, leaving plenty of options for the watersports fan or camping enthusiast.
When we said earlier that the 2015 Yukon Denali is a beast, we meant it. GMC has packed its Denali-trimmed Yukon with a 6.2L V8 bearing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque to help you tow that dream boat / RV without any trouble.
Acceleration is smooth with a peppy off-the-line punch thanks to the Yukon’s torque figure. We found the two-tone brown leather interior pleasing, matching the refinement of the exterior design and paint scheme.
Our Yukon felt cohesive. It was well thought-out and designed. The fit and finishes all exceeded expectations with the exception of one area — the seats. We miss the plush seats in the outgoing model, as experienced in a long road trip with the Cadillac Escalade. (Please bring back the old, cushy seats GM!) The new, trimmed down models have slimmer seats that, for the money, really just don’t provide the level of luxury we’ve come to expect.
This is not the kind of SUV that feels at home in a metropolitan area such as Washington, DC. It’s the kind of SUV that gets you the occasional dirty glance as you barrel down narrow city streets. But in Wilmington, where there are more open roads, bigger families and outdoor activities, the Yukon XL Denali thrives–it essentially blends in. We counted several Yukons down that way, including our “twin” vehicle that had the same paint color and interior but in the standard length. For that small stretch of highway, we enjoyed admiring our Yukon Denali twin in the rearview mirror – the uniquely identifiable headlights, the confident stance, the massive GMC grille.
Who really needs this truck?
The General pretty much has a lockdown on the gargantuan SUV market. Consumers can cross shop essentially the same super-sized ute under three brand names and several price points. The Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade each bring a unique level of utility and luxury for drivers looking to carry their families, pets and big-boy toys wherever they may go.
The Yukon XL Denali is the right fit for a family who travels quite a bit and plans to spend a lot of time in the car. Starting at nearly $72,000 base MSRP for the XL Denali package with four-wheel-drive (4WD), our tester rang in above the $80,000 mark, making this high-end model an option only for a family with deep pockets.
When it comes to the quality of life on the road, if you’ve got the budget for this ute, we think it’s invaluable to have all the space and comfort needed to make your travels as pleasant as possible.