Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali Is Ready To Compete With Luxury Rivals

The GMC Yukon is one of the biggest and most expensive vehicles in its lineup. Many people felt like, despite this high price, the Yukon couldn’t really compete with other luxury SUVs. GMC has taken all this into consideration and has finally delivered on its promises to make the Yukon worthy of being called a luxury SUV.

CNET believes that the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali will be a true contender for the first time ever. Here’s what we found out about what Road Show loved, and how the 2021 Yukon Denali compares to other luxury SUVs. 

The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali is ready to compete in the big leagues

A 2021 GMC Yukon Denali on display at an auto show
A 2021 GMC Yukon Denali on display | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

GMC has made some major changes to the Yukon, to overcome the reputation that it has developed as uncomfortable and unreliable. It will soon offer the 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six diesel engine normally available only on the Silverado and the Sierra half-ton trucks. For those who prefer a diesel engine, the Yukon Denali might have just gained some new fans.

There are two other engine options. The first is a 5.3-liter V8 engine that gets 355 hp that is available on the base model. The Denali comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that gets 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Another change was to add more space. The Yukon now has 66% more space than previous models behind the third row. This was done by adding five inches to the wheel base, and extending the body by more than six inches.

GMC has also tackled the dreaded third row. It is now bigger and more comfy than ever, which is a great relief to any adults who have attempted to ride back there for more than five minutes.

The interior has had some major improvements as well. There are two types of leather to give some much needed contrast. In the dash is a 10.2-inch multimedia display that is easy to use and doesn’t lag.

There are also plenty of driving aids, although not all of them are standard on the Denali. Automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on the Denali. What isn’t standard is a camera mirror and adaptive cruise control.

The 2021 GMC Yukon Denali isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the price

The 2021 Yukon Denali starts at $83,420, putting it on par with lower end luxury SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLS or Lincoln Navigator. That’s before you start adding in extras, of course.

GMC is offering the Ultimate Package which will give consumers more options. Some of the features include two 12.6-inch second-row entertainment displays that will be sure to keep passengers of any age entertained. There are also 22-inch wheels, power-retractable running boards, four-corner air suspension, and adaptive cruise control.

The Ultimate Package isn’t cheap, however. It adds a whopping $11,180 to the price. For many, this might be too much. For others, it’s totally worth it

The fuel economy is abysmal, however. According to Roadshow, “According to the EPA, this Yukon Denali should deliver14 miles per gallon in city driving and 19 on the highway. Combined, it’s rated at a scowl-inducing 16 mpg.”

How does it compare to the competition?

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The Mercedes-Benz GLS, like the Denali, has grown in size. The driving experience is smoother than what the Denali offers, and is designed specifically with families in mind.

The Lincoln Navigator is another serious contender. It offers plenty of tech standard and is plenty large enough for adults to ride in comfortably. It is more pricey than the 2021 Yukon Denali, however. It starts at $77,120 and tops out at $101,265.

The 2021 Yukon Denali is finally able to keep up, and might draw in new consumers who would normally overlook it. If you’re interested in trying out the new Denali, take it for a test drive to see if the hype is real.