Whether moving around with a large family or just ‘cause a minivan isn’t your style, the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali will get the job done – and do it looking dapper. The super-sized, three-row SUV sports a brand new exterior design this year, with a nod mechanically to siblings Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. It stands apart with its own styling and features, especially in the engine choices: Two gasoline V-8 engines or a turbo-diesel inline-six. The engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission featuring GMC’s signature push-button gear selector.
We got behind the wheel of a tester in the Midnight Blue Metallic trim, with dark walnut/ash gray interior. To say it’s friendly on the eyes is an understatement, but just in case you weren’t star-struck, the Denali has all the chrome to make it an overstatement. The large honeycomb chrome grille is the centerpiece upfront, and it features chrome touches around it; fog lights have chrome surrounds as well (because why not?) The LED lights are C-shaped and tuck in neatly around the badge.
Once you hop inside the cabin, the Yukon’s dashboard highlight is the low-sitting 10.2-inch touchscreen display. The push- and pull-button gear selector adjoins the driver’s side, alongside the touchscreen and climate controls situated lower in the center cluster. The real wood trim is unique to the Yukon dashboard and this definitely stands out. The center console and storage are unchanged from previous years’ models.
Our tester came with the 420 hp, 6.2-liter V-8 engine, one of the three variants available. Just like the last Yukon model, the other V-8 is a 355-hp, 5.3-liter engine. The engines are paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is operated through the push-button panel on the dash.
The Denali glides with speed and finesse, as GM’s powertrain does the V-8 justice from the moment you step on the accelerator. The 0-60 mph run takes about 7 seconds, which is decent considering the gargantuan size of the Denali. The transmission moves through the gears subtly and stays on track.
There’s clear improvement to the Denali’s ride and handling that helps close the gap in these areas for GMs large SUVs against rival Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. In what’s a first for GM, the Yukon sits on a four-wheel independent suspension that can be upgraded with adaptive dampers and an air suspension. These can raise or or lower the Denali by 4 inches to achieve better ground clearance or for cruising.
The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali has a MSRP of $71,400, and our tester was equipped with options including the Denali Ultimate Package ($11,255), which adds a rear seat media system with a dual rear seat-mounted 12.6-inch diagonal color-touch LCD HD screens, 22-inch bright machined aluminum wheels, adaptive cruise control, and assist steps – power retractable with perimeter lighting. With the package, the total rises to a whopping $83,795.
The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali is similar to the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban in terms of offered powertrains, but Chevy doesn’t quite have a counterpart for the Denali. Other manufacturers, however, do. Ford Expedition is the larger SUV, and packs major V-6 power and tradition. The Lincoln Navigator has exquisite details inside the cabin and takes the luxury level up a notch, sure to be matched by the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. Another premium choice in this segment is the Infiniti QX80, which was spruced up for 2020 and packs V-8 power.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2021 Angel Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog