• A Yacht, a Brute, a Magnificent Ride: The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL [First Impression]


    2015, gmc, yukon, xl, denali
    The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL strikes a balance between its platform-mates, the over-the-top Cadillac Escalade and the more modest Chevrolet Suburban; yet, it maintains an identity of its very own. Based on the lauded GMT K2XX platform, the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is one of the largest SUVs on North American roads.

    Aside from being one of the largest engines in its class, the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL’s 6.2-liter V8 is one of the more advanced as well. Active Fuel Management allows the engine to deactivate four cylinders for greater efficiency. It’s fully automatic and the engine will maintain maximum power when needed. Speaking of power, the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL makes 420 horsepower and 460 lbs-feet of torque.

    Using the new eight-speed automatic transmission, (GM 8L90) the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is rated at 14 MPG city and 20 MPG highway. Combining our stress-test mileage during our “Ike Gauntlet” test and a considerable amount of unloaded highway driving, we saw an impressive return of 18 mpg.

    GMC Yukon XL int 1
    The interior is one area where GMC made few concessions. It is nearly as nice and feature-filled as the Cadillac Escalade without feeling overwrought. The new interior design of General Motors has been nothing short of a revelation. Components feel well made, switches have a slight resistance to them which makes them feel more substantial.

    The HUD (Heads Up Display) truly makes for a more informed driver. Loved it in the Corvette, love it in this big GMC.

    GMC Yukon XL int 2
    One of the best ways to immediately see GM’s interior improvements is by looking at the interior door panels. They are beautifully sculpted with a sweeping arm rest, large cup/bottle holders and nice integrated w od inserts. The rear doors have nifty arm-level cup holders too. The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL’s main competition (the Lincoln Navigator and Toyota Sequoia) lack its thoughtful touches and/or luxurious appointments.

    Seating comfort in all three rows. The driver’s seat is fairly large and somewhat flat, but there’s just enough bolstering to keep you planted when you corner hard. Over a long haul, even that third row seat provides a comfortable perch – especially for kids.

    GMC Yukon XL Main

    The third row seat of the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is all new this year. The old third row was removable, cumbersome and heavy to lift. These seats were popular with thieves as well. This year, the third row is fully integrated into the GMC Yukon and it’s powered to go up and down. The most notable detractor is slightly less cargo space and a higher lift-over due to the elevated floor.

    GMC Yukon XL int hatch
    With all three rows up, there’s 38.9 cubic-feet of cargo space. With the third row folded, there’s 76.7 cu-ft of cargo space and with both rows folded, there’s 121.1 cu-ft of cargo room.

    The suspension uses Magnetic Ride Control™ and it has automatic rear air level control which helps when towing or when overloaded. Surprisingly, the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL was a very friendly daily driver, considering its size. Make no mistake, it’s bigger than some school buses, but it is very easy to drive. The magnetic ride suspension soaks up the largest bumps and, despite the ridiculous 22-inch wheels, the ride is never too harsh.

    GMC Yukon XL ext 2
    It can corner better than many might think. The big GMC only leans a bit and you never feel like the rear is pulling away from you in a hard turn (despite the solid rear axle). It can keep up with just about any luxury sedan, even in a canyon. It’s driving refinement overall is best in class.

    While I’m not sold on the looks, I do acknowledge that the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL has its own identity. The entire front clip leading all the way to the front pillar is unique and shares very little metal with the Suburban or Escalade.

    The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL can to a maximum of 7,900 lbs.

    Just like its identity, the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is priced in-between its platform-mates. The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL starts at $69,470 (a regular Yukon bases at $49,690). The tester we used was fully loaded and commanded a lofty price at $77,925.

    Only after a few days, my family and I became pretty attached to the big brute. Well done GMC.

    Check out this video featuring the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL against the 2015 Lincoln Navigator.

    Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed  worldwide.
    Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed
    worldwide.

    Here are a few additional numbers:

    Curb Weight (lbs.)
    5981.00 lbs

    Max Payload (lbs.)
    1519.00 lbs

    GVWR (lbs.)
    7500.00 lbs

    Max Trailering (lbs.)
    7900 lbs

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    4 thoughts on “A Yacht, a Brute, a Magnificent Ride: The 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL [First Impression]

    1. I think I like the regular Suburban better. I’m nota big fan on the blocky truck nose, the Chevy looks a little sleeker.

    2. Never been a huge fan of the XL, but I imagine the increased wheelbase length is nice for towing and extra space behind the 3rd row.

      Love to own a 15 Yukon Denali non XL though! They absolutely own this market and have the best powertrain available.

      Nailed it GM.

    3. Also loves how they mention it could keep up with a sedan in the canyons….How amazing is GM’s R&D when they can make a land yacht that can accelerate like this, handle as well and as comfortably and still get decent mileage. Being good at one thing….ride but not handling, or mileage but not power is not impressive. Being good at all things at the same time, that’s impressive.

    4. Great review and I loved your Ike Gauntlet video. We took delivery of essentially the same vehicle in November. You are correct that the HUD is a really nice feature. I’m a little surprised you didn’t make mention of the adaptive cruise control although you may never have had the opportunity to use it. Maybe you’ve got a more detailed video review in the works. Also, one minor correction for your video, the Denali’s got 3.23 gearing, not 3.42. The Yukon come with 3.08, the Yukon w/ max towing comes with 3.42 and the Yukon Denali has 3.23. Like I said, it’s a minor thing but it makes the 8 speed’s Ike performance all the more impressive. Keep up the good work!

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