First Impressions: 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali
In the words of infamous Western New York car dealer Billy Fuccillo, “It’s huge!” The Denali XL is big enough to fit your entire family and some friends but is it too big?
With their most recent Yukon styling upgrades, GMC has somehow managed to make what was already a large looking vehicle appear larger. The new straight roof line and solid belt line work together to make the Yukon a more handsome vehicle than its predecessor. Changes are not solely aesthetic; GMC inlaid the doors into the body to make the vehicle a tad more aerodynamic and reduce wind noise. Our tester was as quiet a ride as you want from a luxury SUV.
With an overall length of about 18.5 feet, the Yukon XL Denali is a big vehicle. It drives like a big vehicle. The handling never really felt loose, and communicated road conditions reasonably well to the driver. In the name of luxury, GMC softened the ride a little which made our tester wallow a bit over bumps, making it a tad softer than we like.
In a word, our Yukon XL Denali was cavernous. Often a manufacturer makes seating claims that seem a bit farfetched, or a bit too hopeful. Not so with the Yukon. GMC claims seating for up to eight adults and we believe it. Seating is plush but supportive and extremely comfortable. While no third row in an SUV or crossover is easy to get to, the rearmost seating in the Yukon XL Denali is about the easiest we have found.
Both back rows in our tester were equipped with the available power folding feature. The ability to fold both rows with the flip of a switch is a luxury we could get used to. Cargo room behind the third row is a spacious 39.3 cubic feet. Flip the switch to fold the second and third row and you get 121.1 cubic feet of road tripping and antiquing.
Storage compartments abound. The center console looks as if it can easily hold a full-size paper grocery bag. The outside of the console lid also feature a standard in the Denali wireless phone charging pad. The glove compartment is also quite large and plenty of nooks, crannies, and cupholders are within reach.
The Yukon XL Denali comes standard with GM’s most up-to-date IntelliLink infotainment system with available 4G LTE connectivity. The system in controlled through an 8 inch touchscreen with voice recognition capability for smartphone users and gesture recognition. The features we were able to explore (GM AppShop will be available mid model year) were easy to use and intuitive. There was no real learning curve for accessing basic features.
The in-dash driver information screen was one of the best looking we have seen. An electronic display is flanked by two analog gauges and appears to be on unit. Information is easily accessed and displayed in an available heads up display that was easy to read in sunny conditions.
A 6.2-liter V-8 engine is standard in the Denali and is mated to a smooth, all-new for 2015 8-speed transmission. The transmission is also standard on the Denali. The engine produces 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque and never left us doubting it could pull the behemoth. The overall handling was a bit soft for our taste, but it never gave the floating disconnect of Grandma’s land yacht.
Our course for testing was only a few miles and the ride was very smooth and quiet, leaving us wishing there were a few more miles we could cover.