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2015 GMC Yukon Denali 4WD Review
By John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 GMC Yukon Denali


MODEL: 2015 GMC Yukon Denali 4WD
ENGINE: 6.2-liter Ecotec V8
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm/460 lb.-ft. @ 4,100 rpm
WHEELBASE: 116.0 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 203.9 x 80.5 x 74.4 in.
TIRES: P285/45R22
CARGO: 15.3/51.7/94.7 cu. ft. (3rd row seats up/down/2nd row down)
ECONOMY: 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway/15.8 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 26.0 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 5,784 lbs.
STICKER: $74,680 (includes $1,195 destination, $7,315 options)

BOTTOM LINE: There is no better way to insure a smooth ride than a long wheelbase and a heavy chassis. The GMC Yukon Denali has both, along with a big V8 to move all that weight at a brisk pace.

I’ll confess to being a bit of a rebel when it comes to striving for maximum fuel economy. Yes, I do my part most of the time. But when I get an opportunity to drive a mega vehicle like the GMC Yukon Denali, I thoroughly enjoy it and feel totally decadent while doing it.

The Yukon Denali is big – 17 feet long and weighing nearly three tons, and with one of the biggest V8 engines available under the hood. But oh my, is it comfortable. Whether you’re on the highway (its best habitat) or merely rolling around town, the Yukon Denali makes you feel as if you’re in the lap of luxury. Sure, there are other vehicles that are more luxurious, but few of them can compare with the Yukon Denali (which will be referenced as the YD henceforth).

The 420 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 has very good power when you need it. In normal operation, the engine is virtually silent. In normal driving, the engine powers the rear wheels through an 8-speeed automatic transmission. You can switch among 2WD, automatic 4WD, 4WD high and 4WD low with a knob on the dash.

The smart wheel is comfortable. Cruise control switches are on the left, and you can scroll through the information panel selections on the right. Audio volume is behind the wheel on the right, changing stations is possible with a switch on the left.

I particularly liked the design of the door pockets. They are multi-level and useful, and they look good.

There’s a huge center console/arm rest between the front passengers with an ideal location for a cell phone on top. Inside, there are two USB connections, one AUX and one SID card slot. There are also two USB slots plus a 12-volt outlet in a cubby at the base of the center stack ahead of a pair of cupholders.

For safety, the YD has a blind spot monitor, forward collision alert, lane change alert, lane departure warning, rear vision camera and rear cross traffic alert. The “alert” part of all the above is a vibration in the seat to make you check around. It is somewhat disconcerting the first time the vibrator goes off, but it’s reassuring every time it lets you know to be aware.

The tailgate can be opened with a switch on the overhead console, and you have the ability to regulate how far it opens. This is good for height-challenged people like my wife who finds it difficult to reach the tailgate when it is all the way up.

Second row seats are flat, but offer very good legroom. There are air outlets at the backs of the front seats to help warm second row passengers’ knees. Third row seats fold flat with a switch on the side of the cargo area. Even when they are up, cargo capacity in the rear is great for smaller objects.

The YD has automatic four-wheel drive, but you can also switch between modes manually. In 4WD, it handled 2-3 inches of snow very well. It may sound heretical, but I might have liked more snow just to give the 4WD a tougher test.

Of course, there is sticker shock. Among the options is the Denali Premium Package ($3,165), which includes the heads up display, retractable running boards and adaptive cruise control. The Open Road Package ($2,760) adds a power sunroof, audio system and rear seat entertainment system. The 22-inch wheels will set you back another $895.

The GMC Yukon Denali is a very impressive vehicle with all the bells and whistles. It is comfortable and great for long rides with a family. It has surprisingly decent handling for such a big vehicle.

2015 The Auto Page Syndicate