The all-new 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali is big. That’s what you first think when you look at the SUV and it’s what you’ll continue to think when you climb up behind the wheel. Turn around and look at the expanse behind you and you once again, all you’ll be thinking is that this thing is big. Size matters, but there’s a lot more to the Yukon and that’s what makes it an SUV you’ll want to drive.
Let’s start with size since that’s going to be a key reason for looking at this beast in the first place. You’re talking seating for up to nine if you go with the front bench seat. Cargo space is 38.8 cubic feet behind the third row, 76.6 behind the second row, or fold the seats flat for 121.1 cubic feet of space. If that isn’t enough, the Yukon can tow up to 7,900 pounds.
Making accessing all that space easier are power release seats that can be flipped down with the press of a button handily located just inside the rear of the vehicle. The depth of that cargo space is so great that if you’re loading smaller things, say all the packs and sleeping bags a class of fifth graders needs for an overnight field trip, you need to use the rear doors to load the front part of the cargo area because it’s so far away from the tailgate.
If you’re hauling people rather than cargo, seats are easily accessible, even the third row. Adults can easily fit without their heads hitting the roof or their knees at their chins, unlike most third rows which are best reserved for kids. Everyone will ride in luxurious comfort with all three rows featuring heated seats and front passengers also getting cooled seats that are 12-way power adjustable.
Despite being a cargo-hauler, this full-size SUV does not forget that it will haul people not just stuff and that those people will want some creature comforts. There’s a Bose Centerpoint surround sound system with 10-speakers, and rear seat entertainment with Blu-ray playback to make sure everyone is entertained.
The driver gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and features including front and rear park assist, adaptive cruise control with front automatic braking, and an 8″ color touch screen with navigation and IntelliLink. There’s also OnStar which comes with a trial subscription and you can even turn your Yukon into a 4G LTE hotspot.
Three-zone climate control assures you’re not too hot, not too cold, but just right no matter where you sit. Active noise cancellation is designed to keep the ride quiet and it is incredibly quiet. Despite its size and angular looks, road and wind noise are minimal. This is a quiet, smooth, and luxuriously comfortable SUV.
Power comes from a a 6.2-liter V8 Ecotec with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. A big vehicle needs an engine that’s up to the task and this engine delivers. You’re not going to win any races, but you’ll confidently merge into traffic without the car’s bulk suddenly becoming an issue.
Handling is surprisingly responsive for a vehicle this size. Taking twisting roads with quick turns won’t leave you feeling like you’re riding on your sidewalls or that you’re not fully in control. This comes from the Magnetic Ride Control suspension which is a damping system that reads the road to instantly react to road changes and help reduce body roll. It also increases traction and gives more precise steering leaving you more confident at the wheel.
Fuel economy isn’t anything to write home about, although it’s not particularly poor. 14 city/20 highway/16 combined will eat into your wallet on long trips. That mileage is improved, however, from previous years due to cylinder deactivation technology. Also eating into your wallet is the overall sticker price. It starts just under $70K and our tester ran close to $77K. This is not an inexpensive SUV.
The 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali is a versatile SUV with room for passengers and/or cargo and all the creature comforts of a luxury sedan. If the price doesn’t put you off, then you’ll enjoy having a luxury SUV that can adapt to any situation.
2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali
Base Price: $69,470
Price As Tested: $76,730(not including destination charge)
- Cargo Space Galore
- Quality Interior Look and Feel
- Fuel Economy
- Pricey Ride