2021 GMC Yukon Denali, a new generation of smooth ride and luxury at its best

This week I have the opportunity to drive the new 2021 GMC Yukon Denali for the first time and so far even though I have had it for five days it has been a great experience driving this new SUV with rows of 7 seats. My experience with the 2021 Yukon Denali has been very good and has given me a great preview of the value of this SUV.

Among the premium features, advanced features and new technologies of the 2021 GMC Yukon, let me first share with you the following.

  • All-new cabin style, with an exclusive Denali interior and optional sliding first center console.
  • Optional four-corner Adaptive Air Ride suspension, the first in its class, which according to GMC offers exceptional ride comfort and is 4WD LO enabled, the body can be lowered or raised up to 50 mm (2 in) specifically for off-road travel.
  • The new Yukon includes 9 different camera views, the largest in the segment, which allow the driver to get more information. Among these camera views we have High Definition Surround View, Rear View Camera Mirror and GMC ProGrade traction system.
  • It also includes an optional Head-Up Display on the windscreen. This screen is 15 inches and color. It allows you to project speed, navigation, safety features and other information.
  • An all-new 6.2L available V8 engine with Dynamic Fuel Management and standard on Denali. This engine offers approximately horsepower and works with a standard 10-speed transmission.
  • An important novelty is Active Response 4WD (Active Response 4WD), which is offered as an option. This system combines technologies and includes an electronic limited slip differential that allows you to continuously monitor road conditions and react accordingly to improve grip, handling and overall control.

The Yukon Denali I tested with all-wheel drive has a 6.2-liter, 8-cylinder Ecotec3 V engine, which delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes with the new advanced cylinder deactivation system introduced by Chevrolet in 2019. The transmission of this SUV is a 10-speed automatic and the towing capacity of this Yukon is 3.72 tons.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

In terms of fuel consumption, this 2021 Yukon is not the best in its segment and according to the EPA it offers 14 miles per gallon of fuel in the city, 19 miles per gallon of gasoline on the highway and combining city-highway gives a fuel consumption of 16 miles per gallon of gasoline. For every 100 miles you have an estimated flow of 6.2 liters. As with the Escalade, Yukon Denali buyers have a choice of two engines: a 6.2-liter V8 and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six.

A fundamental change is the introduction of an independent rear suspension (IRS), which is an adaptive air suspension and in addition to a better driving experience, much smoother and more predictable, it also allows to introduce a more rear floor. This approach in turn creates more space inside this huge vehicle, especially for the third row seats and of course for the vehicle’s primary cargo space, behind those seats. In July, we reviewed the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, which also impressed us with roomy third-row seating and a large trunk, among other things.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

The new SUV in its most economical trim level has a list price of $50,700, and the 2021 Yukon Denali with included option packages (Denali Ultimate, White Frost Tricoat (exterior paint) and the sliding center console) is priced at $84,320. This Denali includes, among other things:

  • 22-inch machined wheels in bright aluminum
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Electronic limited slip differential
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • The rear camera mirror
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi available

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Exterior of the 2021 GMC Yukon

For those who don’t know, the XL is the largest of the Yukon and the difference is remarkable, while the rest of the Yukon has a wheelbase of 120.9 inches and a length of 210 inches, the Yukon XL has a wheelbase of 134.1 inches and 225.2- inch length.

Its front remains impressive, starting with a Denali-exclusive front grill, featuring a new design that uses mesh with a satin chrome finish and block-style elements, which the brand claims create nearly 10,000 reflective surfaces.

This grill, along with LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and LED fog lights, blend together perfectly to form a very aggressive and impressive front.

The 2021 Yukon’s sides underwent no visible changes from the previous model year. The sides give it a sleek look and on both you can see some chrome details and some flat metal strips like along the underside of the doors and around the windows.


While the exterior is impressive, when I first stepped into the interior of the new 2021 Yukon Denali with the naked eye, I could detect luxury at its best, a unique interior with advanced features, and you immediately realize that you are in a familiar and luxurious ambiance like the Denali atmosphere.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

The dashboard is huge and a little boxy for my taste, but GMC managed to make it look nice using high-quality materials like the stitched leather used in some parts and the wood paneling in the passenger compartment. This wood is also present in the interior of the front doors, which naturally combines with the leather used in them.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

This SUV is very well equipped in terms of infotainment and entertainment, starting with 15-inch HUD (Head Up Display), 10.2-inch center console color touchscreen, dual-color and 12-inch touchscreens. It also offers 6 inches behind the front seats to offer travel information and entertainment to passengers in the second (captain seats) and third row seats that can play media from various devices and finally the dashboard screen. In addition to all these options, the interior also offers instruments with information about the journey and also the condition of the vehicle, such as tire pressure.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Firmly becoming industry standard, the infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (automatic wireless), wireless smartphone charger, 3-zone climate control, heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats, heated second-row seats and steering wheel, and Bose Performance sound system with 14 speakers (a joy!).

Denali in the GMC Yukon lineup

The Denali version we tested sits at the top of the range, as is the case with all GMC products. It accounts for two-thirds of the model’s sales, which is quite extraordinary given that it is by far the most expensive. It’s all the more astonishing that this finish has so far been more of a source of disappointment than satisfaction.

In other words, a Denali version, it wasn’t worth what we demanded. The quality on board has always left something to be desired.

For this new generation, GMC finally made some corrections by adding what was missing on board. We are of course talking about the materials used, but also the level of equipment and presentation. Even the one for the Denali version is different from those found with the other variants. Thus, the buyer finally has a sense of getting his value for money, at least compared to the other versions of the family.

If I could summarize, GMC presents the new generation of its fantastic SUV, a flagship model of the brand. With the motto “The only premium SUV made to be used”, GMC offers all available technology and elevates the Yukon’s capabilities and fills it up with luxury in this Denali version.

2020 will be the decade of electrification in the automotive industry, but when you get behind the wheel of the new 2021 GMC Yukon, it feels like that day is far away. That’s because the Yukon presents itself as a rolling anachronism, i.e. big, heavy and greedy. But the truth is that it still has its place in the market, as you will see.

What I liked about the 2021 Yukon Denali: increased comfort, capacity (volume, towing) and mechanics. The price is a bit high for many family budgets, but when you consider what this SUV offers in terms of size, comfort and performance, you understand GMC’s logic.

The main event for the 2021 Yukon

  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Ford Expedition
  • Hyundai Palisade
  • Kia Telluride
  • Nissan Armada
  • Toyota Sequoia


Undoubtedly, this 2021 GMC Yukon XL Denali greatly benefits from the independent rear suspension and the advanced 4-wheel drive system, two more than important elements that greatly improve the grip, especially off-road, on rough roads, roadless areas and even in conditions where the weather does not help a lot when driving.

When we drove this vehicle from Atlanta to Charlotte, NC with six people and a load of luggage, we were able to confirm the first impression the Yukon gave us of how easy and comfortable to drive.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

From the driver’s seat you have a fantastic view and the drive is smooth, which saves the distance, it’s like driving a sedan. The power you demand from the vehicle is almost instantaneous with the 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine.

Shifts with this 10-speed automatic transmission are wonderfully smooth, well-timed and, frankly, you hardly notice when they happen.

For budget-conscious families looking for these types of SUVs, both for city life, as well as for the road and for off-road adventures, the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali XL is a very good option. It is easy to handle in town, comfortable and quiet on the road, especially on long journeys.

The technology integrated into the cabin places this GMC SUV among the best in its class, with advanced technology that allows us to be connected at all times and know everything that is happening on the trip with accurate information and almost at the same time as it happens.

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Finally, it also integrates more driver assistance systems than the previous version, further increasing its value.

All of the above makes us say without a doubt that this luxury full-size SUV is great and one to consider when looking for a vehicle in this market.

Armen Hareyan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which has since published expert news and analysis on the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News TwitterFacebook, Linkedin and YouTube.

Reference: Geek’s Room, 123 Auto.

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