Please do not mock this big-shouldered cruiser until you’ve used it the way it’s intended. The hulking GMC Yukon XL Denali might seem a bit much at first sight. But then you take three college students back to campus with their tons of gear, and the miles roll by with posh serenity, and you reach this vehicle’s promised state of highway nirvana.
This GMC model is supposed to be positioned between the Chevy’s time-honored Suburban and Cadillac’s swag-mobile Escalade. But all three models have been subject to constant rejuvenations, and the new Yukon is now pretty much a large limousine. Go ahead, point out the Mastique ash wood trim.
New for 2018 is a grill out of Transformers and a new 10-speed automatic that raises mileage figures to a decent level.
That gang being driven to college will have lots of entertainment. The Bose Centerpoint audio system floods the zone with sound, which can be addressed with AppleCar Play or Android Auto. The 4G WiFi option can connect up to seven mobile devices at once.
The XL designation means the wheelbase has been stretched fourteen inches longer than a regular Yukon, with all attendant legroom and luggage-area benefits. The four-wheel-drive option makes it ready for anything. The upscale Denali trim adds the Magnetic Ride Control on the suspension, which assures you that the shocks are adjusting to road bumps in micro-seconds. I’ve always found this an impressive feat of engineering.
The only thing you might find intimidating is a crowded parking lot. This baby is big. The recent interest in sporty crossovers led GMC to actually reduce the size of the Yukon’s kid brother, the Acadia, which is presently selling like hotcakes. For a three-row vehicle, the Acadia’s a nifty driver. And as the Yukon XL Denali has expanded in price, the Acadia is ever more attractive. But once you glide the highway in the big Yukon’s jumbo-jet serenity, you’ll see why the big fellow is so loved.
Base Price: $71,665
As Tested: $80,890
Power: 420-hp, 6.2-liter V8 w/4-wheel drive
EPA Mileage Ratings: 15 city/22 highway