The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Heels on Wheels: 2013 GMC Yukon Denali Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 GMC Yukon Denali and Friend

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.


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.

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