GMC has been building trucks and SUVs since 1909. William Durant used his profits from Buick to buy several small truck manufacturers and combined them to form GMC Trucks. Although GMC and Chevrolet have shared chassis and many body parts since 1920, stylists and marketing wizards have kept them from overlapping.
The latest generation of GM’s full-size boxes all share a common chassis, but that is where the similarities end. Two years ago GMC sent us a 2015 Yukon XL powered by the 5.3L V8. Because it was one of the first of this generation, they promised to send us a fully loaded Denali once production got up to speed.
Better late than never. We recently spent a week with a new 2016 Yukon XL Denali. The Inuit name for the highest mountain in North America, the Denali, is loaded with much more content than lesser trim levels. I won’t elaborate on the additional features, because they are very similar to the Cadillac Escalade.
We like the 5.3L V8 because we have several older trucks and SUV’s around the office equipped with these reliable small blocks. Denali comes standard with the 6.2L V8, and it feels more capable than a Caterpillar D9. New for 2016 is the eight-speed automatic transmission, and it is light years beyond the six-speed box it replaces. Sharing many internal components with the transmission found in the Corvette Z06, it is able to skip multiple gears and cruise just above idle at highway speeds.
In summary, Yukon Denali uses Chevrolet for power and Cadillac for luxury at a competitive price point between the two. Our fully loaded example carried a sticker price of $78,520. Escalade was less than $12 grand more, but the only real differences between them are styling and the audio interface. To make it even more confusing, Suburban beats them both on price with only slightly less content. Print this out and take it to your local GM dealer and use it as your bargaining chip. You can’t make a wrong decision because they are all great SUVs. Stay tuned to Autofluence more reviews from In the Driver’s Seat.