Jan 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What we're driving: 2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Image of 2021 GMC Yukon Denali
2021 GMC Yukon Denali. Photo: GM

This week I'm driving the GMC Yukon Denali, which was redesigned for the 2021 model year.

The big picture: The Yukon, along with GM's other full-size SUVs (the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban), are the company's moneymakers, hauling in about $10,000 profit per vehicle, analysts estimate.

  • Without them, GM wouldn't have the capital to invest in future technologies like electric, self-driving cars.

Why it matters: The Denali is something of an automotive icon, debuting in 1998 almost as a brand unto itself, and now accounts for more than half of all Yukon sales. And it remains popular with luxury buyers who want lots of space and truck-like utility.

Details: Like the other full-size SUVs, the Yukon Denali has a new independent rear suspension that provides a better ride and, importantly, a lot more rear space for passengers and cargo.

  • Two V-8 engines are offered, plus a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel that's great for towing heavy trailers.
  • I really liked the large multicolor head-up display which is easy to read, even in sunlight, and helps minimize distractions.

The bottom line: The Denali sells for $71,400, but my test vehicle had an $11,255 "Denali Ultimate Package" that included a rear-seat entertainment system, retractable steps, a panoramic sunroof and much more.

  • The final sticker price was $83,495, a big price for a huge vehicle.
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