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2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Test Drive Review

The 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL is possibly the biggest and most luxurious American-made SUV you can buy. It will transport up to eight full-size adults, rip off a 0-60 time of just over 6-seconds and is just at home at Home Depot as it is parked in front of your favorite fine dining establishment. To top it off, the beautifully basic concept has been refined to a point where it now rivals many of its European counterparts.

2016-GMC-Yukon-DenaliXL-review-photos-AutoNation-004 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Exterior: The Yukon XL is one of the last body-on-frame SUVs. It incorporates exterior treatments that help it stay in line with current trends and adhere to GM’s overall style. With a 130-in wheelbase and a length of 224.3-in, the Denali XL casts a wide shadow. This is great on the open road, but in the cramped confines of an urban environment those dimensions can sometimes get the best of it. Making a vehicle of this size feel sophisticated is no easy task, yet the designers have managed to pull it off nicely by combining the best attributes of the GMC fleet. The chrome-wrapped grill is garage door big, but it works with the high beltline. Projector beam headlamps that are flanked by LED running lights and which flow nicely into the front fenders (a trend that can be seen brand wide), while recessed driving lamps sit deep in the lower portion of the front bumper. I also dig the 22-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels wearing 285/45-series rubber. Some may scoff, but look closely and you’ll see they work perfectly for a vehicle with such large proportions. Note the carefully placed chrome accents that help to break up the Onyx black paint. They help make the Denali seem less slab-sided and fool the eye into thinking the truck is a bit smaller than it actually is. The rear tailgate can be opened with the touch of a button, while electronically retractable running boards make entering and exiting the cabin a snap. Chrome roof rails are a nice touch as well.

2016-GMC-Yukon-DenaliXL-review-photos-AutoNation-028 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Interior: Since its release in 2001, the Denali XL has evolved into a polished full-size transport. With softly painted plastics, wood and double-stitched leather, the interior conveys a feeling of comfort without being over the top. The cabin is welcoming and was designed for those who need all-day comfort. Cargo volume spans from 15.3-cubic feet with the rear two rows in place to 94.7-cubic feet with the seats folded flat. It will haul just about anything you can think of while still delivering a compliant ride. A full array of features like a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, navigation with 8-inch color touchscreen, tri-zone active climate controls and a rear entertainment system help to justify the $80,150* sticker price. There are also enough power outlets, charging ports and cup holders to satisfy all occupants. The second row captain chairs are fantastic and offer up heat, however those relegated to row three may find the seats to be a bit light on padding. Outward visibility is great and thanks to large rearview mirrors (with blind spot and lane departure warnings) piloting the Denali XL comes with no drama. Still, you still have to be cognizant of the fact that you’re piloting a vehicle that’s almost 19-feet long and weighs in at just over 3-tons.

2016-GMC-Yukon-DenaliXL-review-photos-AutoNation-008 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and a quarter mile time of just over 15 seconds means that the 420hp Denali is as quick, or quicker than many of the big block muscle cars of yesteryear. Off-the-line acceleration is staggeringly quick for a vehicle of this size and an 8-speed automatic transmission helps to put the power down. Once the roads get twisty, the mass of the vehicle becomes apparent even though GMs magnetic ride controlled suspension is utilized. The interstate is where the Denali XL loves to be. Cruising along at 75+ miles per hour is a breeze with power reserves aplenty if you need it. Highway mileage at speed averaged around 19-mpg**, with 13-mpg** observed around town. The EPA rates the 2016 Yukon Denali XL at 20-mpg highway, 14-city and 16-mpg overall. I took the XL on an extended road trip and for the long haul; the Denali’s adaptive cruise control is a must. Set your speed and distance and let the computers do the rest. Braking performance is on par with other vehicles of this size and weight, which meant performance was decent. The 4×4 system can also be adjusted manually between 2wd, Auto, and full-time mode with a brake-bias controller built into the dash for those who tow their toys around. Max towing capacity is rated at 8,100-lbs when properly equipped.

2016-GMC-Yukon-DenaliXL-review-photos-AutoNation-015 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Safety: GMC understands that safety is paramount and as such has equipped the 2016 Yukon Denali XL with a variety of features to ensure a safe journey. Items like available Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Intelligent Brake Assist, Front and Rear Park Assist, a Rear Vision Camera, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Anti-Lock brakes and of course airbags can be found throughout the cabin.

2016-GMC-Yukon-DenaliXL-review-photos-AutoNation-014 2016 GMC Yukon Denali XL Overall: The 2016 Denali XL is the big dog in the SUV world. Busy mothers, contractors, government agencies and all manner of celebrities use it. The reason? It works. It’s a 3-ton chameleon that has the ability to change into whatever you need to be and fit whatever type of lifestyle you throw at it. Hopefully GM will never stop making these, as they really are fantastic. Drop by your local AutoNatio GMC dealership today to check one out!

*Vehicle MSRP of $80,150.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.

**Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.

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