The Denali trim that GMC uses to denote its top-of-the-line vehicles was introduced back in 1999, partly as a way to challenge the recently introduced Lincoln Navigator. Fifteen years later, and with GMC the tenth-largest US automotive brand by itself Denali has become a sub-brand that keeps the cash registers ringing at the Renaissance Center HQ. While GMC increased sales by 9 percent in 2013, TheDetroitBureau.com reports that that Denali sales rose by 20 percent.
There are currently five Denali models in the GMC line, with the Denali trim available on all but its commercial vans. In 2010, when the now-discontinued Yukon XL Hybrid was also on sale, GMC sold 32,886 units of its top trim. Last year, that number had increased to 75,558, with almost no help from traditional marketing spends. Go to YouTube and search for "GMC Denali commercials" – the few actual commercial results are from years ago. GMC marketing director Roger McCormack tells TheDetroitBureau.com, "It's largely all been organic."
As sales have grown, so has the tide of money GMC rakes in from the additional luxury features on Denali models. The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe starts at $44,600, yet its 2014 Yukon Denali doppelganger starts at $58,320, pricing that includes additional features like the larger 6.2-liter V8, nicer interior, head-up display and magnetic ride control suspension. The Yukon XL Denali starts at $60,965, but the article says the "average customer" likely to spend "up and above $70,000" to take one home. How does that happen? On a top-trim Tahoe LTZ, the top-tier wheel option is a set of 20-inch chrome wheels for $400; on the 'base' Yukon Denali you can swap for a set of 22-inch chrome alloys for $2,995. Add it up, and an analyst at AutoTrends Consulting said that kind of margin "epitomizes the concept of obscene profitability." We say when it comes to Denali, GMC appears to stand for "Grabbing More Cash."