News Column

Auto Review: GMC Yukon Denali

May 24, 2007

Ralph Gray


The all-new 2007 GMC Yukon Denali sheds all sports utility pretense. It's simply a luxury vehicle.

Forget the work-boots sports utility gig. Slip on your Italian leather slip-ons, tune the satellite radio to something classical and motor on down the boulevard. GMC has gone way upscale this time.

Nobody is going to rock a rill with this $54,765 SUV despite the all-wheel drive. That 6.2L aluminum V-8 will whisper out its 380 horsepower to 60 mph in a sedate 8.9 seconds. Oh sure, it will tow nearly 8,000 pounds -- if you have the Derby winner behind.

You'll need that 26-gallon tank because, Bubba, luxury doesn't come cheap at the gas pump. The EPA says 13 city and 19 highway. Around town our tester delivered 11.9 mpg despite two overdrive gears on the six-speed automatic transmission. There's a button on the column shift handle that enables up and down pinky shifting.

There are non-Denali Yukons offering lesser engines that provide higher fuel economy. These include a 5.3L V-8 that can run on 85 percent ethanol-to-gas mix and a 4.8L V-8. Do we care, Muffy?

There are three rows of seats with the last row accommodating those larger than jockeys. For the driver and front passenger, there are oodles of room and the seats are heated. Brake and accelerator pedals are power adjustable. Most of the hood is visible, too. Power running boards enhance entry.

The Denali feels as if it is hewn out of a solid piece of steel. There's little lean on curves and the ride is stately. A lot of that comes from a body that is 49 per cent stiffer, GMC says. Denali is also wider for more stability and there's stability control that includes "rollover mitigation," too.

The Autoride gives Denali electronically controlled shock absorbers. The system reads the road to adjust the ride. This is a fine cross-country cruiser, especially if towing a gasoline tanker.

Rack and pinion steering gear is just like those in sporty sedans. It puts more precision in direction. Four-wheel disc brakes coupled to an anti-lock system bring Denali down smoothly.

GMC Yukon interior GMC Yukon Denali

•Engines: 6.2L V-8

•Dimensions: 116" wheelbase; 202" length

•Base price: $47,115; As tested $54,765

•Fuel economy: 13 mpg city/ 19 mpg highway

Of course there are exclusive Denali exterior touches that distinguish it from other Yukons. The grille is a heavily chromed honeycomb and there's extra brightwork around. Headlights and taillights have etched GMC logos. Denali's have a power liftgate at the back. The navigation radio screen also shows a rear view.

On the inside, there's leather all over and wood trim. Door-sill plates are embossed. Cruise and audio controls are on the four-spoke steering wheel.

In addition Denali includes rain-sensing wiper systems, rear parking assist that beeps, and a remote start that fires up the Denali and turns on the air conditioner or heat so it's comfy inside to start off.

The package still remains a fun-to-drive sports ute that's handy around town and a blast on the open road.

What's all this about a "Cadillac Escalade" any way?

Source:, Copyright (c) 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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