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2021 GMC YUKON DENALI DELIVERS THE DELIGHTS

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

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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