The GMC Yukon XL Denali is a full-size SUV that is well into its third generation. Like the smaller Yukon Denali and the regular Yukon XL on wich it's based, the Denali XL soldiers on with a rugged body-on-frame architecture that gives it excellent off-road and towing capabilities.
The Denali stands out from regular Yukon XL models thanks to a chromed grille with honeycomb inserts, a honeycomb air vent on the bottom of the front bumper and a healthy serving of chrome trim. The SUV stretches 222.4 inches long, 77.1 inches tall and 79.1 inches wide, dimensions that make it roughly the same size as the Ford Expedition EL, its main rivals. The bulk comes at a price, and the Denali tips the scale at 5,741 pounds with two-wheel drive and 5,938 pounds when equipped with the optional four-wheel drive system.
The Yukon XL Denali boasts a cavernous interior with room for eight passengers spread out over three rows of seats. An available nine-person configuration swaps out the front bucket seats for a three-passenger bench.
The SUV offers 45.8 cubic feet of trunk space with nine passengers aboard. That figure goes up to 90 cubic feet with the third row removed, and 137.4 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. In addition to sheer cargo space, the SUV offers plenty of storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin and the industry's largest center console-mounted bin.
A color touch screen mounted towards the top of the center stack enables the passengers to control the navigation, audio and climate functions.
Under the hood
The Yukon XL Denali is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 cast-aluminum V8 engine that makes 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to a six-speed automatic transmission, the mill can run on either gasoline (premium is recommended but not required) or E85, a blend of gasoline and ethanol. Rear-wheel drive comes standard and four-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.
Rear-drive XL Denalis return 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel drive models lose 1 mpg on the city but the highway rating stays the same.
Standard and optional equipment
The top-of-the-line Denali comes standard with heated and cooled front bucket seats, navigation, a Bose premium audio system, a tri-zone automatic climate control function, a rear-view camera, power adjustable pedals, a remote vehicle starter, 20-inch chrome aluminum wheels, a power-operated tailgate and a side blind zone alert.
The list of options include power retractable side steps, a sunroof, a rear seat entertainment system and a cargo net.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and side curtain airbags, traction and stability control systems, a tire pressure monitoring system and a wide array of accident assist functions provided by OnStar.
The Yukon XL Denali's main rival is the Ford Expedition EL King Ranch. Other rivals include well-equipped variants of the Nissan Armada and the Toyota Sequoia, two smaller body-on-frame SUVs.