Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
420 HP / 460 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Four-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
6,009 LBS
Seating:
2+3+3
Cargo:
121.1 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
14 City / 20 HWY
Base Price:
$65,380
Automotive enthusiasts often wonder aloud – ourselves included – why General Motors would choose to keep GMC while sending Pontiac (and Saturn, and even Oldsmobile before it) into the great automotive graveyard in the sky. The answer, as is so often the case, is profit. It's much easier for GM to rake in money hand over fist by rejiggering the trucks, crossovers and SUVs that it would already be developing for Chevrolet and making them a bit more luxurious and *ahem* "Professional Grade" with new grilles, badges and unique packaging for GMC.

While it may sound like we're being cynical, we totally approve of GM's fullsize SUV strategy. The least-expensive way to get into the fold is with the Chevrolet Tahoe, which starts at $45,595 with a 5.3-liter V8 engine and a cloth interior. Bumping that same Chevy to LTZ trim and its $59,995 sticker price lands a much nicer leather-clad interior and more techno-bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. But it still looks like a Tahoe, and it still comes with the smaller 5.3-liter engine. Or, you could do what we'd do: Walk into your GMC dealer and take a look at the Yukon Denali. Here's why.

Driving Notes
  • The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali wears a starting sticker price of $62,680 or $65,380 for the XL version we drove. That's a difference of $2,685 over the Tahoe LTZ. You get quite a bit for that bit of coin, which is a pretty small percentage of the truck's total cost.
  • Of course, it's stupidly easy to raise the Denali's starting price to stratospheric levels. A Touring Package for $4,110 includes an excellent head-up display, loud and proud 20-inch wheels in chrome, a power sunroof, rear-seat entertainment and an enhanced security system. That last bit is noteworthy because these big SUVs are frequent targets of thieves. Power-retractable side steps cost $1,745 and aren't really necessary for most body types, but adaptive cruise control and automatic braking assist for $1,695 may be more desirable.
  • Besides the styling, which we'll get to in a moment, the most obvious benefit brought by the Yukon Denali is its standard 6.2-liter V8 engine. Its 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque is an immediately noticeable improvement over the Tahoe's 5.3-liter and its 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, especially when taking off from a dead stop or when passing on the highway.
  • While the six-speed automatic transmission is tried-and-true, it's two gears shy of current market leaders. That said, its deficiency is less apparent when mated to the Yukon Denali's 6.2 than the 5.3 of the Tahoe.
  • As you'd expect, the bigger engine in the Denali carries an efficiency penalty at the pump. With ratings of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, the two-wheel-drive Denali's deficit sits at one mpg city and two highway. Not insignificant, but then again, neither is the extra power.
  • As a staff, we universally prefer the Yukon's looks to the Tahoe's, and, while we still find the Denali trim overtly blingy, we feel the treatment works better on the fullsize trucks and SUVs better than on smaller crossovers. If you want to go full bling, wait for the Cadillac Escalade and be prepared to open your wallet significantly further.
  • Inside, the Denali buyer will be coddled with heated and cooled seats sewn in supple leather. Instead of a traditional analog gauge cluster, GMC has fitted the Yukon Denali with a customizable LCD with three distinct themes. Each of them can be customized to include information relevant to the driver. Couple that with the standard eight-inch screen in the center stack and its MyLink infotainment system, and you'll have plenty of doodads to play with.
  • As you'd expect, there's a ton of room inside the Yukon Denali. A maximum of 94.7 cubic feet is available with all seats folded down, or you can pile in seven or eight occupants (depending on whether you chose second-row buckets or a bench). Need more space? No problem; the Denali is also available as an XL that's a full 20 inches longer, as seen in our image gallery. Either way, the truck's max tow rating stands at 8,300 pounds, which is more than any three-row crossover or minivan can tug along.
  • Even with those heavy-duty ratings, the Yukon Denali is about as serene an automotive conveyance as you'll find at this price. It's extremely quiet, with effective aero tuning, sound-deadening glass and active noise cancellation technology effectively drowning out the outside din and making conversation among all rows of passengers an easy affair.
  • With standard magnetic ride control, the 2015 Yukon Denali is supremely composed on the road, belying its massive 5,533-pound curb weight by feeling almost light on its feet at highway speeds. Steering is light at slow speeds, yet it firms up well as the pace increases.
  • Basically, what we have here is the middle child in GM's fullsize SUV portfolio. It's nicer than the Tahoe and standard Yukon, but not as far into luxo-barge territory as the Cadillac Escalade. Call us Goldilocks if you must, but if it were our own hard-earned money on the line, this GMC would be the just-right body-on-frame 'ute we'd be most interested in driving.


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  • 146 Comments
      Brian
      • 8 Months Ago
      The Tahoe, Yukon, and Escalade redesigns were way past due and I'm glad they finally here. I'm a big fan of these plush rides. I'm drooling over the new Denali. However, has anyone noticed how expensive these things are now? I remember when back in 04 when you could get a decently equipped Tahoe for $29k. In 08 you could get the previous gen Escalade starting at $55k then a minor price bump to $57k in 09. Now a Denali starts at $62k and an Escalade at $72k. Now I realize that some time has gone by and these things have made some improvements, but those are some serious prices hikes. Most American's incomes have been mostly stagnant for the last 15 years.
      Technoir
      • 8 Months Ago
      6.2 L V8 motors, 6000LBS and 14mpg are a bad flashback from the 90s.
        Technoir
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Technoir
        HAHA I used to own a full size truck years ago. But times have changed, and I now drive something more decent. This thing is a relic from times bygone.
        juststudent
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Technoir
        Prius is too gas guzzler. http://media.oregonlive.com/portland_impact/photo/pedouinsjpgjpg-796e7dd5b4b286b9.jpg 7 seater, light enough, economical and rather harmless to earth. That's more suitable for him.
      maverick_02
      • 8 Months Ago
      I see rapid depreciation in the future for these just like all Denalis before them. Looks good but Yikes on the pricing.
      The Wasp
      • 9 Months Ago
      Jeremy, it looks like you reviewed a Yukon XL, not a regular Yukon. Also, do you have any information on how much the Denali costs over a regular Yukon? It's confusing to talk about a "starting sticker price" when you're reviewing a high-end trim package. I have noticed AB often does this.
        The Wasp
        • 9 Months Ago
        @The Wasp
        By the way, the Yukon actually has a starting price around $46k, not $62k.
        SethG
        • 9 Months Ago
        @The Wasp
        I agree. The base price of the Yukon Denali is kind of pointless. I view the Yukon as the base model and view the Denali as I would any other appearance or feature package.
          The Wasp
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SethG
          Agreed -- the only reason I think it's reasonable to consider the XL a separate model is because it used to be, with its own name [well...shared name]. Ford doesn't refer to the short and long Expedition as separate models. GM has a right to say whatever they want but it would be nice if reviewers would call it like it is.
      budwsr25
      • 8 Months Ago
      Has anyone seen the prices on the Silverado and sierra? They start at $26k and max out well over $55k. That's nuts!
      mikemaj82
      • 8 Months Ago
      Well, at least it's cheaper than the $230,000 Ferrari that catches fire.
      Basil Exposition
      • 9 Months Ago
      Love the invisible D pillar
        SethG
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        Not bad. But the extra glass followed by black trim leading up the C pillar is pretty bad.
          Basil Exposition
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SethG
          Yea, that is no good at all.
          Carpinions
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SethG
          GM likely left it that way because it's a customization piece on the aftermarket. I've seen a number of older GM full-sizers running around town with body color or otherwise modified corner pieces on the back. The invisible - or at least blacked-out - D pillar has been a consistent styling element on these trucks since the GMT400 model. I can see the point about the glass pane not being a nice smooth wraparound, but there are some decent reasons why it's not, cost to replace possibly being one of them.
      ebauer427
      • 8 Months Ago
      we've had one Suburban and two Yukon XL's. The last Yukon was a Denali trimmed version with all the options. All three lasted beyond 100k miles without any incident beyond normal maintenance. For our family and lifestyle, they were excellent vehicles and we were loyal fans. The new one is good looking but I am stunned at the price tag. A fully loaded XL Denali will run $80k. And it's not like you get a bargain with Chevrolet. A Suburban in LT trim will cost $60k. Who's going to line up to buy these at those prices?
      NY EVO X MR GUY
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wow....The Denali fully loaded is touching 80k. The SLT Yukon and XL loaded is 67K. The Suburban loaded is 75k and the Escalade tops out at a staggering 92K. Um.....they are nice....but those prices are befuddling. I think their pricing dynamic is placing itself out of the market.
        Susan
        • 8 Months Ago
        @NY EVO X MR GUY
        I disagree. From what I see, there is no end of money or leasing power in American suburbia. It may be deadly to family finances, but families go ahead anyway and buy/lease transportation far beyond their practical needs.
      superchan7
      • 9 Months Ago
      We're having our first kid soon. Time to buy a Suburban in case all the in-laws visit at once, which would happen just about never. I also need to throw in a ton of junk that I don't need but for some reason want to lug around "just in case." What? Europeans and Asians get on fine with smaller cars? But aren't they like.....Communist?
        Terry Actill
        • 8 Months Ago
        @superchan7
        What about when you need to tow that boat you won't buy?
        Richard
        • 8 Months Ago
        @superchan7
        I used to laugh at people who thought they needed to buy a huge SUV because they had a kid. Now I have kids and I laugh at people trying to put a car seat in the back seat of a 2 door 3 series.
          Carpinions
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Richard
          Depends how many kids you're talkin'. If you're talking 3-4 or more, then yes. Otherwise, if you have 1-2, a full-sizer is not an inevitable necessity. We've been able to deal with mid-size crossovers and (yes) a minivan.
          19nomad56
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Richard
          I put my two kids in the back of my E92 convertible. They don't particularly like it, but I don't need a Suburban to get them to school.
          Terry Actill
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Richard
          I laugh at people especially tiny women straining to reach inside full size suvs for their kids and especially when they take five minutes trying to get into a parking spot near the mall doors. I'd rather have a 3 Series. And I'm sure you would too if you're honest, Richard.
        Basil Exposition
        • 8 Months Ago
        @superchan7
        LOL @ dude who thinks everyone's life and needs are the same as his. It's big world out there bud, filled with all kinds of different people who do all kinds of different things. Get out there and check it out some time.
          superchan7
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Basil Exposition
          I also forgot about Freedom. I need a lot of room for Freedom. Freedom to use all the gas I want, even though I'm kinda sorta just a little behind on my credit card bills by only $8k. All tongue-in-cheek. I have friends who really use pickup trucks to haul serious hardware like 10-piece tool sets and the occasional potted plant.
          Niels Marienlund
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Basil Exposition
          Nobody doubted some people could actually use the SUVs, but do you actually figure half the population needs one? The ironic thing is, living in the Bay Area, SUVs make up almost 40% of the vehicles on the road, and I almost never, ever, ever see child seats, stick figure family stickers, loads of cargo...anything at all to indicate they actually need these massive behemoths. They're not purchased for function anymore - they're status symbols. There is no logical reason to choose an SUV over a wagon unless you live in a rural area with rough terrain or do regular mass hauling.
          superchan7
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Basil Exposition
          @ Niels Marienlund Even with a ton of family member stickers, a T&C, Odyssey or Sienna would be more practical than a Yukon XL.
          Neez
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Basil Exposition
          @ Niels Marienlund You've obviously never driven a large truck on the highway before. These vehicles are absolutely the best highway cruising vehicle around, period!! Better than any caddilac, BMW, mercedes. The interior is wide, they handle well, and they're quiet. They are just so good for long highway drives. That being said, i don't own one myself. I have a subaru impreza. The carseat fits in the back, but i can't put the front seats all the way back to the last 2 notches. But i do borrow my parents suburban whenever we need to go on a long trip, it's just so nice. Even around town, they are so nice to drive, just not to park.
      jb.bradford
      • 8 Months Ago
      Call me crazy, but I only dig these triplets the most in their long form (Suburban, Youkon/Denali XL, Escalade ESV).
      BB79826
      • 9 Months Ago
      95% of the people who buy this should have an Acadia instead. They actually have more room inside, they're cheaper, they're more efficient, and they're more comfortable. But I understand GM makes a TON of money on people who don't know any better and think, somehow, that a body-on-frame SUV is somehow more patriotic and safer than a crossover.
        Hernan
        • 8 Months Ago
        @BB79826
        I sort of agree that this is a lot of car, but bigger/heavier generally DOES equal safer.
        Basil Exposition
        • 8 Months Ago
        @BB79826
        Next time I am car shopping, I will be sure to ask you why I "should have".
        pghcc2007
        • 9 Months Ago
        @BB79826
        95% of the people who buy this should have an Acadia instead.: No they shouldn't. They actually have more room inside: Not in usable terms, but perhaps in useless Cbft measurements. They're cheaper: So what? They're more efficient: By a very small amount and again there are those of us who don't care about fuel prices. They're more comfortable; No...just no. A full-sized SUV rides better (AKA softer), looks better than a pretend minivan, and a heavier BOF battering ram will be safer in a car vs car accident and then there's that glorious powertrain.. As for patriotic, you have a point there, but since these are the closet you can get to an old school real American car like an Electra or Ninety Eight, then yes perhaps there is some level of patriotism in them.
        JaredN
        • 9 Months Ago
        @BB79826
        The actual real-world fuel savings between a Yukon and Acadia isn't much. The Acadia is underpowered, overweight, and surprisingly thirsty.
        Carpinions
        • 8 Months Ago
        @BB79826
        The Acadia can't tow nearly as much or with as much prowess as this *truck* can. The Acadia also only comes in one size and can't hold a candle to the cargo capabilities of the Yukon XL.
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