2021 GMC Yukon Denali: a masterpiece of its kind

2021 GMC Yukon Denali: a masterpiece of its kind

Large SUVs are not for everyone. They really take up a lot of space, and they can be difficult if not impossible to park.

But hey, seeing the popularity of these models, which are resistant to both ecological and economic shocks, it is normal that manufacturers continue to develop these modern behemoths.

At General Motors, this segment, occupied by the Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade, is one of the most important cash cows. It is thanks to all the suburban families and professional athletes who turn to them that cars like the Bolt EV have been able to see the light of day!

In Canada, the GMC brand product is the most popular, the Yukon. After all, it bears the name of one of the territories of our beautiful big country!

Completely new for 2021, it now faces fierce competition. Should he be worried? Not at all!

A reworked look, for the benefit of everyone

The GMC Yukon is available in several versions, including a particularly desirable, the AT4. This transforms the Yukon into an off-road machine capable of coping with quite a few obstacles. The current test is for the Denali version, the most upscale of all. While it doesn’t have all of the cool aesthetic cues of the AT4, it’s still pretty chic. In fact, when you see its big chrome grille, you can’t help but admire its elegance.

The Yukon, chrome or not, has more aggressive shapes than in the past, less anonymous. We no longer have the impression of dealing with a prism with a square base as in the past.

Inside, the evolution is even more marked. In the past, the Yukon didn’t give the driver the feeling of being in a premium vehicle. There, there is no longer any doubt. The design is superb, just minimalist enough. In the Denali version, we can only appreciate the richness of the materials that surround us, such as the different types of wood and leather that surround the dashboard and its instruments.

Finally more space

One thing that always intrigued me about these big vehicles is that with the exception of the front seats, it wasn’t that spacious inside. The middle seats were okay, nothing more, and the seats in the third bench were uncomfortable, even in a lying Yukon XL.

However, the new Yukon platform has been designed to offer more volume inside. You quickly realize this when you sit in the middle, when you have more room for the legs, for the head, and especially, in the back. Now we finally have room, and this third bench doesn’t give the impression of being a punishment cell for unruly children!

The interior space of the Yukon has never been so practical, offering a large load volume, and when you lower all the seats, you have a perfectly straight floor! Forget the vanlife, and convert a Yukon into a motorhome!

444242 gmc yukon denali 2021 chef d oeuvre en son genre
Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

Mechanics in focus

Under the hood, the Yukon Denali has a classic: a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8. No flafla, turbo, electric motors to assist, etc. We only have a big V8, good for 420 horsepower and 460 pounds of torque.

The engine is mated to the excellent 10-speed automatic that General Motors uses all over the place, and to tell you it does a good job is an understatement. To give you an idea, if I was a planner at Mercedes-Benz, I would throw away all my transmissions to fit my cars with this one.

The set, therefore, provides a surprisingly smooth driving experience. Acceleration responds perfectly to the driver’s commands, and there is never any hesitation. Ah, if all mechanics could behave like this!

Speaking of the highway, it’s worth mentioning that the 6.2-liter V8 performs quite well, even in a large vehicle like this. You have to watch yourself on the highway, because you can easily exceed the speed limits without really realizing it, as the engine accelerates effortlessly. Moreover, it can tow up to 8,000 pounds.

444259 gmc yukon denali 2021 chef d oeuvre en son genre
Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

Awesome behavior

A big SUV like the Yukon is expected to be rather clumsy, a victim of its weight which tortures its suspensions. However, this is not the case in the present case.

The Yukon Denali is counting on a divine suspension. It is an adjustable air suspension, combined with the magnetic shocks that GM uses in more of its high-end vehicles. The result is simply sublime. The Yukon is inconvenient, as it manages to disperse the bumps and imperfections of the road, while offering frankly impressive handling.

The only problem with the Yukon, on the driving side, is its rather disconnected steering. But in the end, no one buys a Yukon to be connected to the road. It is even rather the opposite!

When it comes to big SUVs, this new full-size generation from GM is a true masterpiece, as long as that’s what we’re looking for. If this is the case, it will be difficult for you to justify purchasing a competing product.


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