GMC Yukon Denali: the latest SUV is still big, but also refined

When you need something large to roll around in, you can't do better than this

For those times when you need to transport a really large number of people (but don’t have access to a minibus), tow something vast (but don’t have access to a truck) or generally zip around feeling secure in the knowledge you’re in a vehicle the size of a small villa, it’s hard to better the GMC Yukon Denali.

Plenty of words come to mind when you’re looking to describe what the vehicle is like, and most of them seem to centre on the overwhelming sense of power and proportion that exudes from the car whenever you go near it.

SUVs are divided into various different categories – mini, luxury, etc – but the Yukon occupies that division they call full-size. It says it all, really. If cars like this get any bigger, passengers will need electric scooters to get from one seat to another.

Slight exaggeration, admittedly, but even the tallest and broadest individuals will be unlikely to complain about lack of leg or head room in vehicles like this.

This is why, no one will be surprised to hear, sitting in a Yukon is a most comforting experience. Absorbing, even. The Denali is the top-of-the-range option, but, even so, the interior is as impressive as anything in its class, and, it should be pointed out, rather more so than certain pricier big-vehicle options.

Usually, a car’s interior would be lower down the list of mentions in a review, but a Yukon is a car you want to inhabit, rather than look at. Not that it has a ghastly body shape or anything. That cabin, though, gives off considerable get-inside vibes as soon as you open the door.

Matters are made more entertaining by the inclusion of a panoramic sunroof and a rather handy centre-console cooler. All the surfaces are leather-covered, as are the seats, with shiny wood adding to the effect. As well as the GMC Infotainment set-up at the front, passengers at the back get to play with an all-new rear-seat media system that features dual 12.6-inch touchscreens.

That’s enough about the inside, though. Externally, the Yukon has the blocky looks that indicate a car not likely to be troubled by a cyclist accidentally driving into the door. It’s all about the presence. And that statement grille on the front is so intricate it apparently has 10,000 individual surfaces.

For reasons that won’t need explaining, big cars can be sluggish. This, however, is not the case with a Yukon. As hulks go, it’s pretty nippy, but that is probably only to be expected as it’s kitted out with a 6.2-litre V8 engine, which produces 420 brake horsepower. That’ll get you up Jebel Hafeet without issue, with or without your hang glider in tow.

The ride is also smooth, the Yukon being fitted with what GMC calls air ride adaptive suspension. We’re not sure what that is technically, but it seems to do the job, as, unlike certain competitors, you won’t hit your head on the ceiling going over speed bumps or traversing rocky terrain. Again, you’d think this was the case in all vehicles of this size, but it isn’t.

The Yukon is big and comfy, then, and you get a lot of kit for your money. In, say, parts of Europe, cars of this sort could be problematic owing to their size, but, in the UAE, with its different driving conditions, it works as a quality, everyday ride. Even if you don’t have to transport a really large number of people or tow something vast. It's convenient that you can, if you need to though.

Updated: March 21, 2021 01:54 PM


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