You’re lost in a wintry tundra, buried under a sheet of white. You use both of your hands to paw through the snow and ice that just cascaded down upon you, enrobing you in dark and cold. You’re disoriented from the avalanche, but you manage to discern which way is up and dig your way free to the surface, where the light is. As you regain your wits you notice two giant lumbering GMCs heading your way. Both pull up within feet of you and the driver door opens, beckoning you aboard.
Make Your Escape!
To climb into the luxurious comfort of the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali, keep reading below.
To drive the off-road prowess of the 2021 GMC Yukon AT4, give your scroll wheel five flicks down the page.
You know the Denali name has been the upper echelon trim of the Yukon for years. This premium luxury sub-brand has split the difference between a standard Yukon and the Escalade since its inception. It’ll shuttle you out of this miserable place in the cossetted comfort of not-in-line-for-the-throne-level royalty. According to GMC, about 60% of Yukon buyers select the Denali trim.
For the first time ever, GMC has given the Denali a bespoke interior with a standalone dashboard. Each of the Denali’s four interior color choices are paired with wood interior accent for an upmarket feel. All of the leather surfaces are hand cut and hand stitched from what must have been an entire herd of cows.
The Denali trim is further distinguished by a large “Galvano” chrome grille, and standard LED exterior lighting with specially designed LED daytime running lights.
You’ll also find a standard massive 15" head-up display to keep your eyes on the harsh terrain. A surround vision camera to keep watch for danger from all sides. Magnetic ride control to keep you comfortable as you bound through the snow. This thing has it all!
Here’s a new feature that GM is very proud of. It’s called the Power Sliding Center Console, which seems wholly unnecessary.
The Yukon’s new first-class interior features a first-ever Power Sliding Center Console, available on Denali, AT4 and SLT. The main storage console between the driver and passenger seats can slide back up to 10 inches (254 mm), offering an expansive storage area that enhances overall storage flexibility and organization.
When the console slides back, drivers gain access to an open space for a purse or bag, and an additional hidden drawer underneath the console’s main storage bin, which provides secure storage and additional peace of mind.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to safety at the wheel of the luxurious Denali. You even had time for a nice warm nap in the center console’s “expansive storage area”.
You’re a rough and tumble chap, and you’re looking for a little more action to go with your adventure. You choose the off-road focused AT4 model because you like to say things like “departure angle” and “two-speed transfer case”. You clamber behind the steering wheel and notice that the dashboard is completely different from the one you saw in the Denali. The heated steering wheel is already on, and your hands feel nice and toasty against the leather grain.
You clearly don’t like frivolities like chromium plating or tow hooks in any other color than BRIGHT RED. This thing screams purposeful! Where the Denali is a chrome love fest, the AT4 keeps things muted with a black-out design. It has to let you know it’s serious.
When equipped with the optional Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, the AT4 can raise an additional 2 inches of ground clearance. When at its tallest, the Yukon AT4 achieves almost 32-degrees of approach angle. The air ride also helps with fuel economy by lowering the Yukon at highway speeds, and the driver can lower the truck a full 2 inches to help passengers climb aboard or to load up the hatch area when in park.
When you consider the standard two-speed transfer case, Goodyear all-terrain tires, an off-road oriented traction system, hill descent speed control, and a full array of skid plates, this thing should climb over or go around just about anything. Maybe.
You get a little too cocky going down an ice crag when a massive walrus flops out in front of you and punctures the AT4's engine block with its tusks. You flip into a ravine and die. Better luck next time!
Regardless of which model you picked, you’ll get a bigger and more comfortable car than the previous generation Yukon. The Yukon is 6.1-inches longer than the old model, with five of those inches found inside the wheelbase for more legroom and driving stability. Third row legroom is up 41 percent, and cargo room behind the third row is up 66 percent. That cargo space is also lower and flatter to make it easier to load.
You’ll have a choice of three engines. There are two gasoline engines, including an all-new 6.2-liter V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, and an all-new 5.3-liter V8, which is the standard issue engine. The third option is GM’s new 3-liter inline-six turbo-diesel. All three engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
You can make your choice final when the 2021 Yukon and extra long Yukon XL go on sale this summer. They will be produced at GM’s Arlington, Texas facility. Price and full specifications (like towing capacity) will be released as production gets closer.
Thanks for playing along!