The verdict: The redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon Denali is so good, you’ll admiration why you charge to absorb added for the new Cadillac Escalade.
Versus the competition: It’s added ample than annihilation from Land Rover, nicer in every way than the latest Lexus LX or Infiniti QX80, and it alike gives the admirable Lincoln Navigator a run for its money.
The GMC Yukon occupies an abnormal abode in GM’s calendar of big action account vehicles. It’s evidently nicer than the Chevrolet Tahoe but not absolutely as nice as the luxury-branded Cadillac Escalade — and seeing as how it’s about identical mechanically to both of those models, administration aggregate from engines to abeyance $.25 to seats, that leaves autogenous and exoteric administration as the Yukon’s capital differentiator. The Denali trim akin added complicates things — it’s GMC’s affluence sub-brand, activated aloft the lath to about all articles and blame a top trim akin that’s meant to address to actual specific buyers. Who? Bodies who appetite affluence but don’t appetite ostentation, according to GMC. It’s been acutely successful, with a ample allocation of GMC sales now advancing in the anatomy of top-spec Denali models.
So aback the latest full-size GM SUVs got a full-size accommodate for the 2021 archetypal year, GMC absitively to achieve the Yukon Denali extra-special by giving it a altered interior. I afresh took one for a abrupt circuit to see if GMC’s efforts at authoritative the Yukon Denali angle out achieve it account its ample amount tag.
Related: 2021 GMC Yukon, Yukon XL: Growing in the Right Ways
It’s adamantine to achieve three SUVs based on the aforementioned anatomy anatomy attending different, but GMC’s designers acquire managed to achieve it with a absolutely altered advanced end than either the Tahoe or the Escalade. And the way they’ve done it is grille — lots of it, huge amounts of it, done up in abounding chrome analysis on the Denali, aloof as Denali barter like it. Apparently, the abstraction of aerial below the alarm with your comfortable SUV doesn’t administer to the advanced end, breadth chrome trim abounds. But the characteristic C-shaped daytime active lights additionally advice the characteristic attending of the Yukon, and all-embracing the attending is adventurous and imposing, abnormally aback it appears in the rearview mirror of anyone activity too apathetic in the fast lane on the highway. Bottomward the side, the attending isn’t abundant altered from the Tahoe or Escalade, with alone some slight aberration in chrome trim and badges. Out back, the taillights are agnate to the Tahoe, but acquire that signature GMC C-channel attending that allows for some acumen and break from its affinity SUVs.
The Denali comes with abounding LED lighting advanced and back, including foglights. A bifold bankrupt with bifold tips spiffs up the rear bonanza area. Specify the Denali Ultimate Package, which my analysis agent had, and you’ll get 22-inch ablaze machined-aluminum auto and ability retractable ancillary steps. Overall, the attending is added academic and below affected than the Tahoe, and below minimalist and angular than the Escalade. It’s a acceptable attending and fits able-bodied into the GMC pantheon of SUVs, allowance to analyze the Yukon appropriately.
There aren’t abounding differences amid the top-spec Yukon and the top-spec Tahoe in agreement of automated bits. The engines are identical, the abeyance options are the same, and it’s aforementioned brakes, aforementioned gearing, aforementioned transmissions. As such, your choices are the accepted 5.3-liter V-8, alternative turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six or the big 6.2-liter V-8 that comes accepted with the Denali trim; it makes 420 application and 460 pounds-feet of torque, and it’s the one to acquire with any of the big GM trucks. All engines are akin to a 10-speed automated manual and can be had with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel-drive arrangement is altered from the Chevy Tahoe’s in that it includes GMC’s absolute Active Response 4WD System, (an automated two-speed alteration case, anatomy controls, an cyberbanking limited-slip cogwheel and the Traction Select arrangement that amalgamate to achieve for a added effortless AWD bureaucracy than is apparent in the Chevy). As for the powertrain, the big 6.2-liter V-8 is impressive, with smooth, seamless dispatch aback alleged for, accompanied by a glottal blubbering through the bifold exhausts that hints at what lies below the sculpted hood. It’s as blessed cycle about boondocks as canoeing the interstates — which you will do at speeds you don’t apprehend to be traveling at acknowledgment to the amazing akin of calmness the SUV provides.
My analysis agent came with big 22-inch wheels, which commonly agency a choppy, aflutter ride in a big SUV, but this was mitigated decidedly by the attendance of both the air bounce abeyance and Magnetic Ride Ascendancy shock absorbers. Compared with the Tahoe Aerial Country I tested, the Yukon Denali was decidedly quieter, smoother and below inclement — you didn’t feel that the 22-inch auto were too big for the truck, and not as abundant of the alley imperfections were transmitted into the cabin. I’m a little abashed as to why the Yukon Denali rides so abundant added calmly than the Tahoe Aerial Country accustomed that they both acquire an air suspension, Magnetic Ride Ascendancy and the aforementioned admeasurement wheels, yet the aberration was noticeable.
One breadth that the Yukon hasn’t fabricated any assets in is ammunition economy, barefaced accustomed the new SUV’s added weight and aftereffect engines. The Yukon 4×4 with the 6.2-liter agent is EPA-estimated to get aloof 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined, not as acceptable as the 17/22/19 mpg that the twin-turbo V-6-powered Ford Expedition 4×4 is rated to get, but still bigger than the 13/19/15 mpg apparent in the 5.7-liter V-8-powered Infiniti QX80 AWD. My abrupt circuit in the Yukon was not abundantly continued to get an authentic reading.
Where the Yukon separates itself from the Tahoe and Escalade is inside, breadth two absolutely altered environments are accessible depending on the trim akin you get. The Yukon appearance the aforementioned adaptation of the apparatus animate as the Tahoe, admitting with some hardly altered trim and blush options, but it’s a well-designed, high-quality allotment that looks far added adapted to the amount of the agent than what GM has blimp into the auto trucks that allotment the aforementioned platform. Opt for the Denali, however, and you get a altered dashboard. It’s alike nicer than the abject dashboards, featuring a 10-inch multimedia awning that looks abundant added chip into the birr than the tablet-style arise begin in the added trim levels and on the Tahoe.
The affection of the berth is a ample footfall up from above-mentioned GMC Denali interiors of any blazon on any model, which acquainted almost any altered than bottom trims, aloof presented in an alternating color. In the new Denali, the altered dashboard with its stitched covering trim, absolute metal accents, absolute copse veneers, and high-quality buttons and switches accord it the exceptional feel that its amount commands. The ambush sliding centermost animate accumulator box is additionally present, activated by a about-face hidden amidst the rather ambagious moonroof controls (they’re catchy to accomplish on the fly, as you can’t calmly actuate which button does what after absolute examination). The animate seems a acceptable abode to backing adulterous items, at atomic until the bounded badge get wind of how the arrangement works.
The agent is actual quiet at acceleration acknowledgment to thicker laminated bottle up advanced than is present in the Tahoe, one of the few areas of adverse that barter don’t absolutely see but that become axiomatic aback sampling the two.
The blow of the autogenous shows the aforementioned versatility and abundance present in the Tahoe, with seats that are accessible to bend or slide, and far added allowance in anniversary of the second- and third-row positions than above-mentioned Yukons. Credit the new absolute rear abeyance and broadcast ambit central and out that acquire accustomed GMC engineers to reconfigure the Yukon’s autogenous packaging to acquiesce for far greater abundance than was accessible before. Full-size bodies can fit in the third row after any problem, and accepting in and out is a breeze acknowledgment to the tilt-and-fold apparatus on the second-row captain’s chairs in the Denali. All of those seats are covered in perforated leather, and the additional row is acrimonious as well.
The autogenous isn’t perfect. We’re still not absitively on if we like the push-button transmission, but it seems bigger than best to use, and we like that it’s army up aerial on the birr for accessible viewing, not low bottomward breadth it’s out of sight. The rearview mirror is smallish, as well, because the admeasurement of the rear window it has to cover. But these are baby quibbles in what is contrarily a bang beheading of an bigger affluence SUV interior. It calmly surpasses the top Platinum trim for the Ford Expedition and gives a acceptable assuming adjoin the added chic Lincoln Navigator, and its avant-garde amenities abashment the age-old Infiniti QX80 and accompanying Nissan Armada. The autogenous is so good, you’ll admiration why you charge to absorb alike added money on the accessible Cadillac Escalade — until you see what Cadillac has in abundance apropos dashboard technology that will achieve alike the Yukon Denali attending like yesterday’s news, anyway.
The latest big SUVs are not the bargains they already were, as top technology, lighter-weight materials, affluence trimmings, bargain appeal from their heyday of the 1990s and a refocusing on specific barter acquire all conspired to drive prices able-bodied aloft reason. The abject amount for a new 2021 GMC Yukon Denali is $72,695 (prices accommodate destination). My analysis agent had the Denali Ultimate Amalgamation that includes a rear media system, ability abetment steps, dual-pane across-the-board moonroof, 22-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, air suspension, rear camera mirror with camera washer, trailering amalgamation and added for an agitative $11,180. A few added allowance and ends brought the as-tested amount up to $83,720, which is absolutely affluence SUV territory.
… Or at atomic it would be, if it wasn’t additionally accessible to advantage up a Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition or alike an age-old Toyota Sequoia to arctic of 70 grand. But the Yukon’s mission to accommodate a affluence cast advantage to bodies who don’t appetite the affectation and beam of a Cadillac yet feel that they’re aloft the mass-market angel of a Chevrolet seems to be a solid one. Ford has alone the two options, affluence (Lincoln Navigator) and nonluxury (Ford Expedition); so does Nissan (Armada and Infiniti QX80). Toyota doesn’t advertise a Lexus-branded adaptation of the Sequoia; if you appetite a big affluence Lexus SUV, your advantage is the LX 570, which is a horrifically expensive, rebadged Toyota Land Cruiser that starts at some $93,000 for a three-row version.
The advance fabricated actuality is that the Yukon Denali assuredly feels like a able affluence vehicle, with a smoothness, calmness and composure that’s been defective in above-mentioned versions. If the amount doesn’t alarm you, the SUV itself should absolutely amuse you.
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