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Equal Parts Massive And Opulent

2021 GMC Yukon Denali
2021 GMC Yukon Denali. Photo via GM

Given that its namesake is the highest peak in North America, the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali SUV goes to great lengths to elevate the 108-year-old brand to new levels of premium.

It’s big, it’s bold, and it totally takes advantage of the newfound technical sophistication offered by GM’s next-generation full-size SUV platform. With roughly 60-percent of GMC Yukon shoppers opting for the Denali package, the 2021 Yukon Denali is an important focal point that will likely shape the future of the brand.

This is why, for the first time, Yukon Denali models now gain their own exclusive interior, complete with a distinct instrument panel, unique seats, and Denali-specific color themes. Each of the four exclusive themes will include authentic wood trim, leather surfacing which are cut and stitched by hand in a unique Denali pattern. Additionally, the first-class treatment extends to the options list, with a new Power Sliding Center Console. The optional console enables the main storage console between the driver and passenger to slide back up to 10 inches, which then offers open space for parcels or purses. There’s also an additional hidden drawer underneath the console’s main storage bin which provides a good place to store your Beretta or the secret family Bruschetta recipe.

As always, Denali will offer the highest level of premium features and content in the new Yukon and Yukon XL. Other interior highlights include High Definition Surround Vision camera 15-inch-diagonal multicolor Head-Up Display, Rear Pedestrian Alert, and an available panoramic sunroof.

Moving to the exterior, the Yukon Denali’s trademark chrome grille is also bigger and bolder. According to GMC, the precise dimensional pattern features over 10,000 individual reflective surfaces. Like its stablemates, the 2021 Yukon Denali also gains GMC’s new C-shaped front light signature which brings LED illumination for the daytime running lamps, headlamps, and fog lamps, LEDs also feature in the tail lamps.

Mechanically, the 2021 Yukon Denali uses the most powerful engine in the full-size SUV segment, the big bruising 6.2L V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management which offers an estimated 420 horsepower, piped through the Yukon’s now standard 10-speed transmission. A base 5.3L V8 and 3.0L Duramax diesel otherwise round out the engine lineup.

The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali comes standard with GM’s fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control, with GM’s new class-exclusive Air Ride Adaptive Suspension available as an upgrade. The air ride system offers ride-height adjustments of up to 4 inches in total. The body can be raised up to 2 inches for additional ground clearance when driving off-road, and while cruising the highway, the system automatically lowers the Denali’s ride height to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Lastly, a driver-selectable setting can drop the truck 2-inches to aid passenger entry and exit when the vehicle is parked.

Also available to shoppers is GMC’s new Active Response 4WD System which combines an auto two-speed transfer case, Traction Select chassis controls, and a new electronic Limited Slip Differential to continuously monitor road conditions and react to improve traction, handling, and overall control. The eLSD can preemptively manage axle torque and vehicle behavior based upon multiple vehicle inputs. If wheel slip is detected on either side, eLSD reacts quickly to shift power to the wheel with better traction.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.


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