This is almost Jalopnik Reviews: Mercury Mountaineer Part 2: Attack of the Clones. Okay, this time it's a GMC Yukon Denali, clone to the Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade. Lest you think this is a Tahoe with a badge slapped on it instead of the "professional grade" product you've come to expect from GMC, know that all of the sheet metal in front of the windshield is unique to the Yukon. The upgrade from everyday Yukon to the chrometastic Denali (even the headlights are shinier) comes with a 380-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 that is unavailable in the Tahoe. This is the same engine found on the Escalade, although the 'Slade has an output of 403 hp to keep it on top of the corporate pecking order. How's that for brand strategy?
Inside, the Yukon is almost exactly like the Tahoe. The main difference is a Denali badge on the steering wheel, and wood-covered doors on the center console bins. Not to say that it's not a decent interior, but is it too much to ask for a different gauge cluster, radio, and HVAC controls?
Driving the Denali is an eye-opening experience into the world of suburban life. This thing is huge. But it would be wrong to condemn the Denali for being in a stupid segment. Whether or not this is the best solution to hauling six or seven passengers is not the matter. And in some regards, excess is a deep-rooted American cultural tradition that goes all the way back to Manifest Destiny. So the real question is, does the Yukon succeed in what it sets out to do?
The answer is a solid yes. The engine is amazingly powerful, never mind the bollocks or the fuel economy. Steering, ride, and refinement are all best in class, although the upcoming Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator might challenge that superlative. And it's not to say the Yukon is without faults. The third row seats, for example, are heavy to remove and take up too much space when folded. But the biggest fault with the Denali is the problem with every corporate clone. A standard Yukon or Tahoe starts around $35,000, and while each has fewer niceties and a less-powerful engine than the Denali, they offer the same level of functionality. Is the upgrade worth the price? Previous sales, and GMC continued use of the Denali nameplate suggests that customers say yes. And the Denali has a standard power liftgate that makes this reviewer weak in the knees, but that will all be covered in Part 2. [by Mike Austin]
GM Reveals New GMC Yukon / Yukon Denali [internal]