I first became acquainted with the 2008 GMC Yukon Denali when I called up the folks at the General in January and said "Hey, we need a mobile command center for the Detroit Auto Show...and oh yeah, it's got to seat six plus gear." GM's media fleet people claimed they had the right vehicle for us. I was skeptical, but from the moment this GMT-900-bodied beast of burden showed up at my front step I found there to be one truism about the Yukon Denali. And that is this — with all the different blank-UV options in the marketplace, very few people need this barge of a full-size SUV. But, if you do need one, you know who you are.
I think I'm now one of those people who "knows" I need one — at least some of the time. Since January, I've now spent so much time in the 2008 GMC Yukon Denali, I almost feel like GM should just hand over the keys. But I can't help it. The Yukon just seems to be a convenient choice whenever we've got the team in the Detroit area and we need a heavy hauler to lug our portly auto-writing frames around. Not to mention seemingly having more equipment in tow than is needed to put together a Top Gear segment.
Case in point. My most recent time spent behind the wheel of the new up-optioned Yukon was the end of last month — for a quick photo shoot with an upcoming vehicle being revealed at the New York Auto Show. With an extra two guys in town and their assorted video and camera equipment, that standard CUV's just going to end up getting stuffed to the gills. Not the Yukon.
As if hoisting myself into the driver's seat isn't enough, all it takes is a quick look out the front windshield (or into the rear-view mirror, across the cavernous double rear rows of seats and out the rear window) and you notice your vision falling well above the roofs of most cars in your line of sight. That's all you really need to remind you this ain't no pansy crossover you're rumbling down the road in.
Or you could just look at your gas gauge. Yeah, it's no 20 miles-plus per gallon CUV, that's for sure. Close to 20, maybe — we saw 17.8 MPG in mixed city/highway driving (EPA 13/19) — but definitely not 20-plus. But you're also not going to find any crossover on the market with a 6.2-liter V8 under the hood giving you 380 horses to play with and max torque of 417 lb-ft. But you'll need an engine that big with an animal packing 5800+ pounds unladen, like the Yukon truck-UV. Anything less would be pokey given this elephant of a vehicle's pack animal purpose.
It kills me when I see a MILF driving a Yukon or it's Chevy brother, the Tahoe, through the suburbs of Metro Detroit. That's because the Yukon, like any pack animal, isn't designed to pick the kids up from soccer practice or bring the groceries to your suburban home. Save those suburban tasks for something smaller, more pedestrian and definitely more pocketbook friendly at the pump. No, this camel of a cargo-carrier should only be used when you've got seven souls in the seats and all 45.8 cubic feet of cargo area behind the third row packed to the gills with equipment. Soccer moms need not apply.
I, on the other hand, feel like I need a vehicle like this. Well, at least I do when I'm not paying for it.