2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4WD 8-Speed Automatic

General Motors pretty much owns the full-size SUV segment with its entries from Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac. Sales of the General’s six regular- and extended-length full-size SUVs totaled 255,907 through November; in the same period, Ford found just 63,887 buyers for its four total variants of the competing Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. It can’t hurt that GM covers all the pricing bases from the $48,410 entry-level Chevy Tahoe to the $98,790 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum 4x4. As those hefty MSRPs suggest, these trucks produce lots of profits, especially luxury variants like the one we’ve tested here, the GMC Yukon XL Denali.

Big and Capable

More than a people hauler, the extended-wheelbase Yukon XL can tow and haul heavy cargo, too. Nearly 19 feet long from stem to stern and riding on a massive 130-inch wheelbase, the big GMC has room for up to eight people (our Denali test truck’s second-row captain’s chairs limited it to a maximum of seven) and can carry 39 cubic feet of their belongings behind the third row. Tow ratings range from 7900 to 8100 pounds, depending on equipment.

Paying the $8650 premium for the Denali upgrade over the next-lowest trim, the SLT 4x4, brings magnetic-ride-control dampers, HID headlamps, active noise cancellation, a larger alternator (to handle these electrical upgrades), a customizable driver’s display, a glitzy grille, and sparkling body-side trim. A more functional Denali upgrade is its 6.2-liter V-8, which supplants lesser versions’ 5.3-liter V-8. The 6.2 is a detuned version of the Corvette Stingray engine and produces 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque here, output we made ample use of during a 40,000-mile long-term test of a 2015 Yukon XL Denali. So why test the same GMC again? Since our long-termer was built, GM replaced the 6.2’s former six-speed automatic transmission with a new eight-speed unit. Read more...

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10 Jan 2017