Are the immense features and space worth paying for the XL Denali?

– Miami, Florida

When it comes to proper body-on-frame sport-utility vehicles, in top trim with tons of luxury appointments, one doesn’t have to look much farther than the 2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali. This bold and imposing seven-passenger vehicle is the latest iteration of a long lineage from General Motors, and it most certainly delivers on many fronts. From the brute force of the V8 powerplant to finer details like the 4G LTE hotspot, wireless charging, and power everything, the Yukon makes the daily drive that much more accommodating.

 

 

Pros

  • If I had to settle on a favorite aspect of the 2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali, it would have to be the styling. Its attractive and contemporary design either has motorists excusing themselves from left lane or increases your home value by merely being parked in your driveway. The exterior is accented with modern HID/LED lighting and a striking Iridium Metallic paint job (that tacks another $395 on the as-tested price). The range-topping Denali also comes standard with 20-inch wheels, but the $2,680 Open Road Package on this tester adds 22-inch seven-spoke wheels.
  • On the road, the Yukon XL Denali has plenty to offer any driver seeking the total package. The Magnetic Ride Control suspension (also shared with the Chevrolet Corvette and Cadillac CTS-V) is composed and supple at both city and highway speeds, backed up by competent braking capability for such a large vehicle. The engine is the tried and true 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8, producing 420 horsepower with 460 pound-feet of torque. Despite the lofty power output, the Yukon XL Denali returns decent fuel economy with 14 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway (identical to the V6 EcoBoost in the Ford Expedition EL), thanks in part to the eight-speed automatic transmission.
  • The Yukon XL Denali features a 4G LTE hotspot, Apple CarPlay (available Android Auto), eight-inch IntelliLink LCD screen with ultra quick operation, XM traffic, OnStar with crash response, crisp head-up display, adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, 110-volt plug outlet and the list continues on. The level of features is impressive and leaves nothing to be desired in the tech area.
  • The copious amounts of seating and cargo space means buyers chose the longer (20.4-inches) Yukon XL for a reason. Depending on trim, the seating configurations (both Yukon and Yukon XL) range from seven for Denali, eight for SLT, and nine for SLE with available front bench. The second row also features a host of climate controls, audio/video inputs, power outlets, Blu-Ray player, remote, wireless headphones and heated seats. Beyond that is a power-folding third row that can actually be used by real humans. The available cargo space gets downright expansive starting at 39.8 cubic feet with all seats up, then climbs to 76.7 with the third row down, and tops out at 121.7 when fully opened up.

Cons

  • Interior fit and quality has always been a sore spot with GM products, and while that’s steadily improving, it needs to be a bit better on this expensive SUV. With our dark-colored interior, the plastics appear rather downmarket, especially on the door panels.
  • I’m not sold on the eight-speed automatic transmission. At times it felt worthy of the task, but during some low-speed driving appeared to be playing a game of hunt-and-seek to find the gear it was looking for.
  • The Yukon XL Denali is expensive, reaching $79,020 as tested. There are alternatives that sacrifice interior volume, but have a more desirable badge on the hood (Mercedes GLS, for example). In lesser trims like SLE or SLT, the sheer size and capacities of the Yukon XL make more sense to buyers with genuine passenger, cargo, and towing needs – for them, it’s about the capability. The Denali part is just icing on the cake.

Competitors

 

Photos: Dave Pankew / Motor1.com

2016 GMC YUKON XL DENALI

Engine 6.2-Liter V8
Output 420 Horsepower / 460 Pound-Feet
Transmission 8-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy 14 City / 20 Highway / 16 Combined
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Weight 6,009 Pounds
Towing 7,900 Pounds
Seating Capacity 7
Cargo Volume 39.8 / 76.7 / 121.7 Cubic Feet
Base Price $70,745
As-Tested Price $79,020

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