Heels on Wheels: 2013 GMC Yukon Denali Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE YUKON DENALI VEHICLE Commanding your full attention in the three-row SUV market is the luxurious Yukon Denali, big on space, taste and V8 engine performance. Premium standard amenities begin with leather seats, a heated and cooled first row, heated second-row captain’s chairs and a ten-speaker Bose audio system, for starters.
I drove 2013 GMC Yukon Denali powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. It also featured a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Available in just one trim, standard equipment on the Yukon Denali includes but is not limited to: leather upholstery; heated and cooled front seats; Bose audio system with XM Radio; steering wheel mounted controls; tri-zone climate control; navigation; Bluetooth; power adjusted pedals; a luggage rack; fog lights; twenty-inch wheels; and OnStar emergency services. Price starts at $56,685.
The 2013 model is pretty much a carryover from the previous year; based on GMC press releases it looks as if the Yukon Denali will not undergo any big changes (omitting new exterior colors). An SUV of this size sits in a bit of a niche market, with main competitors including the Ford Expedition and the Toyota Sequoia.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Formidable in stature, the Yukon Denali holds tight to a bold and classic rectangular SUV shape. The interior uses high-quality materials and keeps the center stack free of confusing knobs, dials and buttons. Space is vast with nearly 109 cubic feet of cargo space when the power fold-and-tumble second-row seat and third-row seat are down; the longer wheelbase Yukon XL Denali with 137.4 cubic feet and seats up to nine). Additional standard tech conveniences are numerous and include a power liftgate, a remote start system and a rearview camera system with ultrasonic rear parking assist -- all boosting the Yukon Denali’s functional edge. Optional features include a sunroof, power-retractable assist steps and a rear DVD entertainment system.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2013 GMC Yukon Denali an overall crash test rating of Four-stars (lower scores in rollover results). Performance safety standards include StabiliTrak stability control system, electronic trailer sway control, hill start assist; many tech features such as Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Parking Assist, and a rear camera are standard features as well.
Cost Issues: Consternation could be found in the price, which starts at $56,685 for the two-wheel drive and $59,680 for all-wheel drive. Although the Yukon Denali arrives loaded, a rear entertainment system, power-retractable steps and sunroof can send the price hovering near $70k.
Activity & Performance Ability: Nothing like the beast I expected, the Yukon Denali exhibits qualities of grace and precision in all driving situations, from angling into tight parking spaces to handling a corner with control. Power is even and predictable, aided by a smooth transmission system. Additional standard performance features include an Autoride suspension system specifically engineered for reducing body motion to this bigger ride.
The Green Concern: Fuel economy for the V8 engine will make you shudder at 13 miles-per-gallon city and 18 highway. You could step down to the regular Denali and opt for the Vortec 5.3-liter V8 engine with 320-horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque that uses the fuel-saving Active Fuel Management technology to temporarily deactivate four cylinders.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
Size is the main descriptor of the 2013 GMC Yukon Denali, from best-in-class cargo capacity to towing ability. Unfortunately, price is also significant, yet features an endless list of luxuries and comforts for a family hauler all should enjoy to ride in.
©2013 Katrina Ramser