2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review

The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is one of the most luxurious SUVs and one of the most capable when it comes to towing, passenger space, utility and cargo.

2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL at a glance?

BODY STYLE: Full-size, body-on-frame SUV
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, four-wheel-drive? with six-speed automatic transmission with driver select engine grade braking and tow/haul mode
ENGINE: 6.2-litre overhead valve V8 (420 hp, 460 lb/ft)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: (Regular) SWB, 16.2/11.4L/100 km city/highway; LWB, 16.8/11.7L/100 km
CARGO CAPACITY: LWB as tested, first/second/third row seats on the LWB as tested is 3,420/2,172/1,102 litres (121.1/76.7/38.9 cu ft); SWB, 2,662/1,631/433 litres (4.7/57.6/15.3 cu ft)
TOW RATING: SWB, 3,674 kg (8,100 lb); LWB, 3,538 kg (7,800 lb)
PRICE: $76,530; as tested, $83,925 including $1,650 shipping fee

2015 GMC Yukon Denali ? big brawn in a tux

Topping the SUV ladder is the premium full-size segment and certainly one of the biggest is the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali long wheelbase XL.

The full-size premium SUV is uniquely North American and demand for these out-sized trucks is always high.

Not long ago, big SUVs were basic inside and out. That has certainly changed with buyers not just expecting, but demanding, more technology and luxury features across every segment not just trucks.

The Denali differs from the similarly sized and powered Chevrolet Suburban (the original SUV) in that GMC is seen as a more luxurious brand.

GMC?s SUV comes in two models ? the Yukon and the Yukon Denali. Both are available in short wheel base and long wheel base at 2,946 cm (116 in) and 3,302 cm (130.0 in) respectively with the ?XL? badge on both standing for the LWB. Denali indicates the top trim level.

The Yukon is equipped with GM?s 5.3-litre direct injection OHV V8 with either two- or four-wheel-drive. The Denali gets the bigger 6.2-litre direct injection OHV V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb/ft of torque with 4WD standard.

Both versions use a six-speed transmission with driver selectable engine grade braking and tow/haul mode.

Fuel consumption of the Denali is 16.2/11.4L/100 km city/highway on the SWB and 16.8/11.7L/100 km on the LWB, as tested here. All Yukons use regular fuel.

Maximum cargo volume behind the first/second/third row seats on the LWB as tested is 3,420/2,172/1,102 litres (121.1/76.7/38.9 cu ft).

2015 GMC Yukon Denali Cargo

Maximum towing rate on the SWB Denali is 3,674 kg (8,100 lb) and on the LWB as tested it is lower at 3,538 kg (7,800 lb) due to its greater overall weight.

At more than 18 feet long (224.3 in), 74.4 in high and 80.5 in wide, the Denali XL is just about as big as it gets before you graduate into the airport transporter class.

The size, in my case, was heightened by the fact the vehicle I drove prior to the Denali was Nissan?s compact Juke CUV.

What struck me the most was the cargo volume behind the Denali third row seat at 1,102 litres, which was bigger than the entire cargo space of the Juke at 1,012 litres. And behind the front seats of the Denali cargo volume was the same as three Jukes.

As for passenger numbers, the Denali seats seven but on other Yukons there is a second row bench for eight, and on the SLE, a front bench making seats for nine.

Of course, jumping from a compact CUV straight into an extended full-size SUV is something you don?t take lightly, starting with how high the driver?s seat is in comparison.

Luckily the Denali comes with multi-adjustability including the brake pedal.

Mirrors are big and do a fair job of clearing the blind spot but this is augmented by the standard blind spot alert and lane change warning systems.

Driver safety aids are extensive including forward collision alert and rear cross traffic alert. The latter came in very handy as I started to back out of a tight parking spot, only to have some fool on a cellphone come roaring through the rows. With the rear end about 10 feet behind me, I never would have known the guy was coming otherwise.

GMC makes a big thing about interior noise reduction using the tagline, ?quietly whispers premium? and that starts with thick acoustic glass on the windshield and front doors.

Then GMC adds an engine bay noise barrier and sound deadening material in the floor sheet metal.

But the biggest help is the Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology that is part of the Bose Counterpoint premium sound system.

I?ve seen this before in econo cars where a counter tone is used to combat the hammering of a tiny four-banger, but rarely in the premium segment. GMC claims it goes a long way to lessening sound from all intrusions by 33 per cent.

The interior, of course, is splendid with Java Burl wood and burnished aluminum trim that complements the contrasting French stitching on the leather.

Literally at the centre of it all is the new 203 mm (8 in) Touch Audio System with IntelliLink with improved voice recognition that seamlessly integrates all mobile devices.

The instrument panel features a customizable driver display augmented by an optional four-colour heads up display.

On the lower left of the instrument panel is a rotary knob for the four 4WD modes (2Hi, Auto, 4Hi and 4Lo), the trailer brake controller and rockers for the brake pedal adjust, lane keeping, traction control and obstacle detection sonar.

Getting into the Denali XL coincided with the first real snowstorm of the year with about 25 mm at my place.

My tester was fitted with the optional, 22-inch aluminum wheels low profile mud and snow tires, but I still wondered how it would handle the unplowed streets near my home.

I shouldn?t have worried. Getting out from the street was in 4Hi with the rest of my drive done in Auto. The Denali, frankly, treated the snow like it wasn?t there.

With this size and weight, fuel consumption is always going to be an issue. As noted above, the new five-star rated for the LWB Denali is 16.8/11.7L/100 km. I got 19.1 mostly in 4Hi because of the snow.

Luckily with gas under $1 per litre when I returned it, the pump shock was almost a relief after the prices of last summer.

And there was kind of a guilty pleasure on my part, noticing how all the other guys in their optioned up pickups gave the Denali a long look at the stoplight.

Price? Well that?s big too starting at $75,530. With the $5,100 Touring Package, the 22-inch wheels and a $1,650 shipping fee, the grand total as tested was $83,925.

Big, brawny and, I have to admit, beautiful, the 2015 GMC Denali XL isn?t for everyone.

But for those seeking the highest level of luxury, utility, towing and passenger capacity, it is tough to beat.

2015 GMC Yukon Denali Rear

  • 2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review
  • 2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review
  • 2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review
  • 2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review
  • 2015 GMC Yukon Denali Review
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