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New Car/Review


By Tom Hagin


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 42,855
Price As Tested                                    $ 43,665
Engine Type               OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SCFI*
Engine Size                                 350 cid/5735 cc
Horsepower                                   255 @ 4600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               330 @ 2800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  117.5"/78.8"/201.4"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     5583 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  29.5 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P265/70R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            12/16/13
0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
Maximum payload capacity                        1236 pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         6500 pounds
     * Sequential central-port fuel injection

Sport Utility Vehicle makers have recently gone after the luxury market with uplevel versions of existing products, both foreign and domestic. The market is big and the profit margins even bigger.

So GMC created its Yukon Denali, a full-sized SUV that takes creature comforts to new levels of sophistication. It comes in two- wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive, with every available Yukon option fitted standard plus a few more. Our tester was a four-by-four.

OUTSIDE - Denali begins life as a standard GMC Yukon four-door, but its look is unique and upscale. The hood, front fascia, fenders and grille are different from its General Motors' full-sized SUV siblings, and the bumpers, running boards, roof rack rails, outside mirrors, bodyside cladding and wheel arches are painted body-color. Reflector optic halogen headlights look rich and give a powerful beam of light, while the rearview mirrors automatically dim to bright lights from behind. A pair of tow hooks and projector beam halogen fog lamps are recessed into ths lower valance. The smooth rear bumper offers a clean-looking integrated tow hitch, while chrome exhaust tips create an aura of performance. A set of six-spoke brightly polished alloy wheels are standard, as are oversized 16-inch all-season tires.

INSIDE - The interior received a luxury treatment as well, and everything mentioned herein are standard. The leather covered seats are wider and deeper than regular Yukons, and the material covering them is softer and more comfortable. Heating elements are inside the seats front and rear, and both front chairs are powered six ways. Zebrano wood trim is splashed in tasteful amounts throughout the cabin, and the overhead console has four map lights, a compass, outside thermometer and a remote opener that can "learn" three separate codes for gates, home lighting and garage doors. A Bose-brand sound system transforms Denali's interior into a concert hall, while GM's OnStar global positioning system teams with its cellular phone to give access to many different features, including emergency services. Cruise control, front and rear automatic air conditioning, power heated outside mirrors, remote keyless entry and power windows and door locks are all standard.

ON THE ROAD - Denali's powertrain didn't need any massaging to get the job done. Its a version the "small block" V8 engine that's been powering GM cars and trucks since the '50s. Through updates such as an increase in displacement to 5.7 liters, an engine management system, fuel injection and tuned exhaust, it now produces a healthy 255 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle needs this power, however, as its 5500-pound curb weight is a lot to haul around. But its torque, along with its standard heavy-duty trailering package which includes a transmission cooler, platform-type hitch and eight-wire trailer lighting system, all contribute to providing a 6500-pound towing capacity. That means Denali is perfectly suited to upscale towing chores. Its electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission now features improved shift points.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Denali rides on a full, truck-like frame, with independent suspension up front and a solid rear axle in back. Torsion bars up front are for the 4X4 models; coil springs are used for the two-wheel-drive models. The suspension has been tuned softly to give as smooth a ride as possible, though this gets in the way of nimble handling. The tires are specially made for this type of vehicle, and give excellent grip on road or off. Its AutoTrac four-wheel-drive system has four settings: two-wheel high, four-wheel high, four-wheel low and automatic four-wheel-drive that can be used anytime. It also uses GM's impressive electronic speed-sensitive steering system that gives good road feel and quick turn response. The front disc and rear drum brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) get the job done OK, although most of the completion now offers four-wheel discs.

SAFETY - Dual next-generation dashboard airbags, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - California emissions: $170; Destination: $640.