In days of old, to create its hulking Yukon and Yukon XL sport-utilities, GMC would simply take the rough and rugged Sierra pick-up, stretch the roof, add a couple of extra doors, some rear seats and Voila.
If you thought that driving either one felt like driving a spine-jiggling pick-up, that was the reason.
Now, if you want to experience a true revelation, take a spin in GMC’s latest 2015 Yukon Denali and long-wheebase Yukon Denali XL arriving in showrooms right around now. The biggest change? Refinement.
These things are now quieter than a cathedral. At midnight. Changes include laminating the side windows, redesigning the doors so they fit into the body rather than extending over the top. And adding triple sealing along with an active noise-cancellation system.
Now when you cruise I-75 at 75mph, listening to Bowie on the awesome new Bose sound system is like hearing him center stage at Kravis Center.
Climb aboard and you won’t recognize the interior. While GMC’s Denali models have always gone the extra mile to offer quality fixtures and fittings, it never caused the folks at Lexus to lose sleep.
Gone is the dollar-store plastic trim and mile-wide panel gaps. Now it’s all soft-touch materials, sexy brushed metal and real stitching.
And the days of risking a hernia from lifting-out those Barcalounger-heavy third-row seats are over. At the touch of a button, both second and third rows power-fold flat to the floor. Finally.
See these new Yukon Denali twins in the metal, and the aura of luxury continues. Yes, that humungous chrome grille looks like it might have come off a Peterbilt, but the new projector-beam headlights with their strips of LED lights, are nothing less than automotive art.
As before, both the 2015 Tahoe and XL-sized Suburban are based on the greasy bits of the latest Sierra pick-up. But you’d never know it.
Reworking the suspension and installing GM’s next-generation Magnetic Ride Control damping gives these hulking GMC SUVs flat, low-roll cornering and a smooth and forgiving ride.
Power comes from the same high-efficiency 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 that motivates the new Sierra. It punches out an impressive 420-horsepower and a honking 460 lb-ft of torque. Enough to haul up to 8,400 pounds.
Lesser Yukon models come with a 5.3-liter EcoTec3 version of the big V8 packing 350-horses and 375 lb-ft of twist. Still plenty of power to move this load-carrying whopper.
And, thanks to cylinder deactivation that lets the V8 switch to four cylinders when cruising, you should also see 16mpg city and 23 highway. In the Yukon Denali I drove in northern California last week, I was seeing up to 24 mpg on the freeway.
Pricewise, a base regular wheelbase Yukon SLE stickers for just under $50,000, though the top-of-the-range, all-bells-and-whistles 4wd Yukon Denali XL can easily reach $75,000.
Note to Cadillac: your new Escalade better be very good to out-lux these guys.