2015 Yukon XL Denali 4WD: The Brand’s Premium Class SUV
Highlight: The Yukon Denali is packaged with a standard in-vehicle wireless cell phone charging system.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $78,725 (base model $64,520)
Seating Capacity: 8
Standard Safety Features: air bags; Daytime Running Lights; HID projector headlamps; power adjustable heated folding outside mirrors; parking assist (front and rear);rear wiper; 17-inch spare tire; ABS; brakes hill-start assist system; a traction control system; a rain-sensing front wiper system; a trailer sway control system; OnStar Concierge/Safety system; a forward collision braking system; a side blind zone alert system; a lane departure warning system; a rear traffic cross alert system; a safety alert seat system; assist exit/entry handles for all seats; and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Standard Equipment: 20-inch wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; a rear wheel drive system; power liftgate; a luggage rack with side rails; a trailer brake controller; an 8-inch infotainment screen; a navigation system; a push-button keyless starter system; a magnetic ride control system; a tri-zone automatic climate control system; a heated steering wheel; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; leather seats; heated/ventilated front buckets; heated second row seats; memory setting for driver’s seat, outside mirrors, steering column and pedals; second-row power folding seats; a wireless charging system; and a remote vehicle start system.
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: a Denali Premium Package, which includes a head-up windshield display system, power retractable running boards, and a radar-activated cruise control system; an Open Road Package, which includes a power sunroof and a rear seat entertainment system; 22-inch wheels; and a theft deterrent system, which includes a self-powered horn, a vehicle inclination sensor and interior vehicle movement sensors.
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 10-speaker AM/FM/HD with satellite radio
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
iPod connectivity/USB Port: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 100,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 6.2-liter, 8-cylinder/420-hp
Recommended Fuel: Premium
Standard Fuel Mileage:
Towing Capacity: 8,300 lbs
What’s New: The 2015 Yukon Denali, which is the premium version of the Yukon, wears an all-new edgy exterior, offers a refined ride and is outfitted with numerous premium comfort features.
Pros: The all-new GMC Yukon Denali is available in a rear-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive configuration in either a short-wheel base or a long-wheel base model. The spacious people-cargo mover has been restyled for the 2015 model year. So with that being the case, the Yukon Denali offers a number of new features, one of them being fold flat second-row and third-row row seats which increases cargo carrying capabilities.
In addition to a flexible interior, the premium class Yukon offers a number of must-have creature comfort features. The Yukon Denali takes a page from its little sibling, the Acadia, featuring a power rear liftgate with multiple programmable height settings – making the large SUV garage-friendly. A windshield heads up system is available, multiple USB ports, a conversation mirror for the driver to connect with both the second-row and third-row passengers and a user-friendly 8-inch touchscreen infotainment screen.
The all-new Yukon Denali encompasses a front center console that can store an iPad, a laptop or hanging files. The big body large luxury SUV is also rigged with a remote storage door to hide a smartphone while it’s charging. Yes, this mobile office on wheels can also be equipped with GM’s optional in-car hotspot system. The Yukon Denali also replaces its hard plastic instrument panel, with a soft-touch, hand-stitched instrument panel, console and door panels.
The new Yukon Denali can be outfitted with a number of autonomous driving features to guide the vehicle. Some of those features include a side blind zone alert, a lane change alert system, a rear cross traffic alert system, a forward collision alert system, a lane departure warning system, a radar-activated cruise control system and crash imminent braking system.
Cons: The mammoth full-size SUV is not the most politically correct to drive. But in light of the record-low gas prices, large trucks and SUVs have hit a sweet spot with American car buyers again. With this being a premium-class SUV, GM should add more comfort and back support to the driver’s seat. It’s just too firm for our taste. GM’s seat engineers should consider benchmarking its domestic sibling, the Lincoln Navigator, as it relates to seat comfort. GMC also runs the risk of alienating buyers who want an upscale luxury SUV who may opt for the iconic Cadillac Escalade, since pricing slightly bumps up against the Yukon Denali.
Verdict: While we’ve been smitten with the Yukon Denali since its arrival years ago, the 2015 model definitely ups the luxury SUV game. This is the best one to date as it relates to premium features, fit-and-finish, high-tech features, towing capabilities and drivability. For those buyers who are not quite ready for the Escalade, the Yukon Denali is the perfect alternative. This vehicle is definitely a worthy contender in the full-size luxury SUV segment.
Competition: Cadillac Escalade; Infiniti QX80; Lexus GX 460; and Lincoln Navigator
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.