Review: 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL

2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali crystal red tintcoat

Written by: Calvin Chan

Photography by: Calvin Chan


Nearly a century ago, GMC and Chevrolet trucks were virtually identical. They were equipped with the same engines, suspensions, brakes, and even looked the same except for minor differences in the nameplates and grilles. Instead, Chevrolets were heavily catered to the private audience while GMC was marketed towards commercial uses. It is only within the past decade that the GMC Yukon has started to distinguish itself from its two GM cousins: the lavish Cadillac Escalade and the more sensible Chevrolet Tahoe. The Yukon sports a price-tag sandwiched right in the middle of the two, but can it justify its new found identity? We’re testing out the new 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL for a week to see if the bridge between these GM luxury-type trucks has been fogged up or set straight.


“Look Daddy! Is that a fire truck?” a little boy in the distance screamed. His father shrugged his shoulders and hastily tugged him along. With a handful of groceries, I didn’t even bother correcting them. Apparently the Yukon XL looks like a mini firetruck thanks to the Crystal Red paint ($515) it’s wearing. All that is missing is a ladder and a hose, though I’m not sure mini is the right word to describe this behemoth. XL stands for exactly what you think it might - extra large - and it stretches the standard Yukon’s wheelbase by 355 mm and a total of 518 mm overall. Storage space continues to be sublime, though the meticulous eye would notice that it’s almost 10% less than the 2014 model. That precious space has been relocated to the third row seats to essentially solve previous complaints of deficient legroom. That’s not to say the trunk isn’t cavernous. With the second and third row seats folded down, the Yukon XL offers 3430 litres of cargo room, identical to the Suburban (3430 L) and comparable to the Escalade ESV (3424 L). The trio may share the same platform, but the Yukon XL rides a sliver higher by 10mm.

Where the Yukon XL begins to set itself apart is with the optional Denali package. It adds cosmetic upgrades such as an imposing three-dimensional grille mesh, HID projector-beam headlights, chrome accents sparkling at every crevice, massive 22-inch wheels, and optional power retractable steps (not on our tester). The Denali also offers the same 6.2-liter V8 engine found in the Escalade that boasts a whopping 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and replaces the standard 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 that holds 355 hp and 383 lb-ft.

Both engines are incredibly potent and create a riot down the street, but there’s no better feeling than doing it with 460 lb-ft. The new exhausts emit a burly and satisfying note that sounds deeper and throatier than the baritone roar from the 5.3-liter V8. Even though the Yukon XL weighs 48 kg less than the Escalade ESV and 93 kg more than the Suburban, you won’t feel much of a difference behind the wheel – they are all giants that weigh as much as six and a half horses. The suspension is on the firm side and the ride is a bit edgy with the 22-inch wheels. I feel like the standard 18s and 20s might be less taxing on the suspension and offer a better compromise of grip and ride quality. Magnetic Ride Control, which is used to perfection in the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette, is also present here and does a similar job at keeping the ride from getting too harsh.


Also shared with the cousins is the Hydra-Matic 6-speed transmission that we’ve found to be sluggish and lazy with its gear changes. We noticed that it strangely preferred the higher gears, even under hard acceleration. Luckily a mid-2015 refresh is under way, giving the Yukon a smoother 8-speed automatic to help mitigate our difficulties and further increase fuel efficiency.

Speaking of which, this big hauler racked up an average of 18 L/100km, which I can’t say I’m surprised for a vehicle that stretches longer than a Rolls-Royce Phantom. A full tank costed us around $120 at 113 cents/liter, and yes this pushrod V8 needs to be spoiled by premium fuel. Well, it’s “recommended” in the car manual, but you’ll probably get better performance and fuel economy with 91 octane regardless.

Smirks and distasteful stares enshroud the room when I speak of my adoration for this new front grille. The buggy-eyed nose and territorial overhang might remind you of the purple bear from Toy Story 3. It isn’t subtle, but it doesn’t seem to gather the street presence of an Escalade despite the heavy use of chrome. The GMC cannot compete with the Escalade’s rewarding LED fireworks display front and rear, but the Denali package gives this heterologous fire truck the character and sparkle it needs to stay distinguished. But it just makes me wonder how much more sensible it would be if the Denali package came standard and have the two V8 engines listed as separate options. Food for thought.

The GMC’s cocoa interior stays contemporary. It houses all the bells and whistles found in the Escalade, but with a more frugal use of cows and trees. Honestly speaking, take all the badges off the GMC interior, and I won’t able to tell it apart from a Suburban. The cabin borders on the bland side, but it’s a comfortable and quiet place to be in. That’s because this is also the quietest Yukon ever built - the front glass has been acoustically laminated and the door seals have all been tightened shut, thus decreasing wind noise by almost 33%.
The steering wheel is chunky and nicely weighted, and the audio controls are cleverly stashed behind the wheel where paddle shifters would normally sit. The pick-up truck gear wand is back, and so is the infamous hidden cubby behind the display screen. GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system continues to be convoluted, but it isn’t as frustrating as Cadillac’s CUE. There is a steep learning curve as you figure out how to navigate within the sub-menus, but at least there are hard buttons to guide your step.


Options were plenty in our tester. The Touring Package ($5100) equipped the Yukon with a power sliding glass sunroof, a rear seat Blu-Ray/DVD package with overhead 9-inch LCD screens in the 2nd and 3rd rows, a head-up display, and an enhanced security package that is similar to the one found in the Escalade (more in depth in that review). Our tester also received shiny 22-inch aluminum wheels with painted inserts that hiked up the price-tag by an additional $545.

Our 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL rang up at $82,790, putting it in the middleground between the mitotic trio. Frankly, I’m torn between the heavenly good looks of the Escalade ESV and the attractive price of the Suburban. In a way, the GMC offers the compromise of the two. It supports the 6.2-liter V8 from the Escalade, harbours an interior indistinguishable from the Suburban, and even offers identical cargo space. My disappointment lies in GMC’s inability to offer anything different. The Denali package is a good start, giving the Yukon shiny new looks and a grill designed for grating cheese, but after that it’s all common territory. In the end, the Chevy is better value and the Caddy offers better luxury. Strive or bargain. For those that can’t decide, I guess there’s always the GMC.


Photo Gallery:


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 3-d grille 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali rear exhaust 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali fender wheel


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali front grill headlights hid led


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali rear 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali interior cocoa 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali steering wheel


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali controls gmc intellilink display navi 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali head rest seats


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali badge


2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali cargo room seats folded 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali cargo trunk 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 22 inch wheels



型号 Model: 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL 4WD

顏色 Paint Type: Crystal Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $76,530

試車售價 Price as Tested: $82,790
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3302
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5697 / 2045 / 1890

車重 Curb weight (kg): 2713
引擎 Engine: EcoTec3 6.2L V8 (L86)
最大馬力 Horsepower: 420 hp @ 5600 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 460 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: independent, coil over shock, twin tube shock absorbers, 36mm stabilizer bar, Magnetic Ride Control
後懸 Suspension-Rear: solid axle with 5-link and coil spring, 25mm stabilizer bar, MRC
煞制-前後 Brakes: 4-wheel disc, vented rotors

循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard

油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 16.8 / 11.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P285/45R22




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