The distinctive GMC Yukon XL Denali full-size SUV offers exclusive design, performance, and interior amenities, and receives a few minor changes for the 2019 model year.
This vehicle is a product of the General Motors plant in Arlington, which also makes the similar Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.
Two exterior colors were dropped, Mineral Metallic and Iridium Metallic, and three colors were added to the Denali line: Dark Sky Metallic, Pepperdust Metallic, and Smoky Quartz Metallic. A new 10-speed automatic transmission is now standard, and new Mastique ash wood grains now accent the interior.
Yukon XL Denali has a wheelbase that is 14 inches longer than the Yukon Denali, with more than twice the cargo space behind the third-row seat. It’s just like the difference between the Tahoe and Suburban, siblings of the Yukon/Yukon XL, respectively. Denali is the name for the high-end trim level of most GMC vehicles.
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The XL Denali has signature Denali styling including a unique chrome grille, and exterior chrome accents. The XL Denali is available in rear-wheel drive starting at $69,300 or all-wheel drive starting at $72,300 (my tester).
The standard 6.2-liter V-8 engine with Active Fuel Management produces a more-than-sufficient 420 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque.
EPA ratings are 14 mpg city/23 highway for 2WD models, and 14 city/20 highway/16 combined for 4WD models. The Yukon XL has a 31-gallon fuel tank, and unleaded regular gasoline is acceptable.
Automatic Fuel Management allows the engine to deactivate half the cylinders under light load conditions to improve fuel economy.
The electronically controlled transmission features tap-shift Driver Shift Control for manual shifting, and Tow/Haul mode for better control and improved cooling when towing or hauling heavy loads. Yukon XL can tow up to 8,100 pounds with 2WD and 7,900 pounds with 4WD. Trailering equipment includes a two-inch receiver, a seven-wire harness and connector, trailer sway control, and integrated trailer brake controller.
Automatic rear load leveling, a high-capacity air cleaner, an external auxiliary transmission oil cooler, an engine oil cooler, powertrain grade braking, and heavy-duty limited-slip rear differential allow the Yukon XL to perform effectively even in the most extreme conditions. Magnetic Ride Control helps make the ride comfortable by maintaining smooth body motion.
My XL Denali was very attractive in Black Onyx, with standard black roof-mounted side rails trimmed in chrome, and bright bodyside moldings.
The Ultimate Black Edition package ($1,000) added a polished single exhaust tip, chrome mirror caps, premium carpeted black floor mats with GMC logo, and eye-catching 22-inch seven-spoke black-painted wheels with chrome inserts and black center caps, wearing all-season black wall tires. The Roof Rack Cross Rail package added $265.
Our vehicle’s Denali Ultimate package ($8,080) brought a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-Ray playback and two DVD screens (second- and third-row ceiling); power-retractable assist steps – black with a chrome strip; a power sunroof with manual shade; enhanced security with interior movement sensor, glass-break sensors in the rear quarter glass and gate window, vehicle inclination sensor, theft-deterrent system, door/gate lock shields (blocks access to “slim jim”-type unlocking devices), and self-powered horn (sounds completely different from the vehicle horn); advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Automatic Braking; four-wheel antilock disc brakes; and an additional nine months of SiriusXM Radio and SiriusXM NavTraffic (a three-month trial is standard).
The rear seat entertainment system had an HDMI/MHL connector, dedicated USB ports, and digital headphones.
Cruise control automatically disengages when the traction control system needs to limit wheelspin on slippery surfaces.
Ten exterior colors are available: Onyx Black and Summit White are standard; metallics Dark Sapphire Blue, Satin Steel, Quicksilver, Dark Sky, Pepperdust, and Smoky Quartz add $395; Crimson Red adds $495; and White Frost Tricoat adds $995.
Perforated-leather seating and interiors are available in Jet (mine), Cocoa/Shale (light gray), and Cocoa/Dark Atmosphere (medium gray, dominant color).
Theater dimming and delayed entry/exit lighting, along with lighting for front and rear door handles, front and rear passenger footwells, and door storage areas added an air of elegance.
A hands-free power liftgate opened by passing a foot under the rear bumper, pressing a button on the key fob or pressing a button in the cockpit. That gives access to the massive cargo area with 39.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 121.1 cubic feet with both rows down – enough room for a blow-up mattress and luggage, or lots of flea market/antiquing finds.
The heated second-row seats had power-release fold-and-tumble buttons in the cargo area, along with fold-flat buttons for the third row.
The cockpit was driver-friendly, with a customizable eight-inch color Driver Information Center for displaying warning messages and vehicle information such as fuel range, fuel economy, tire pressure, oil life, and more.
An adjustable, programmable Head-Up Display included cruise control information and various warnings and messages such as low-fuel information, collision alert, speed, and navigation directions.
In addition to a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals helped the driver find the most comfortable driving position – especially helpful for a short person in a large vehicle.
A GMC Infotainment System with eight-inch color multi-touch display included navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone (voice-activated), rear-seat reminder, and Shop app. Shop offers a catalog of third-party apps to download to the radio, using the available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot (connection for up to seven devices) or a mobile device.
SiriusXM NavTraffic is standard, with information on traffic speed, accidents, construction, road closures and more. Color-coded roads on the screen show traffic speed in major metro areas.
Bose CenterPoint Surround Sound with SurroundStage, 10 speakers strategically placed throughout the cabin, and AudioPilot noise-compensation technology provided concert-like sound for all passengers.
A three-month All Access SiriusXM radio trial is standard, with more than 150 channels of commercial-free music, sports, talk, entertainment, and news. The infotainment system included a single CD/MP3 player, HD radio, and multiple USB ports and accessory power outlets, including a 110-volt three-prong outlet. A wireless charging pad was conveniently located on top of the center console, with plenty of room for the largest phones.
OnStar Safety and Security is standard with a month’s trial, and offers 24/7 priority connection to trained advisors to help in the event of a crash, locate a stolen vehicle, provide navigation assistance, and provide aid in the form of roadside assistance.
GMC Connected Services, also standard for a month’s trial, offers services such as vehicle diagnostics, dealer maintenance notifications, and more. Several subscription options are available for both systems.
The cargo area was versatile, with a lift-up folding floor that became a barrier behind the second row of seats, and exposed a large shallow bin with low removable/adjustable dividers to separate items and help hold them in place.
Safety/driver assist features included front and rear park assist (below 5 mph), rear cross-traffic alert (when reversing), forward collision alert (for following too closely), low-speed forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning (gentle steering wheel turn with a warning beep to correct unintentional drifting), lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert (alert to rapidly approaching vehicle during lane change), and Teen Driver (customize vehicle settings, limit certain features, automatically turn on certain safety systems if equipped).
My Yukon XL Denali was very attractive, roomy, comfortable – even the third row had lots of leg and head room (34.5/38.5 inches) – and versatile for hauling people (seven) and/or lots of cargo.
Options totaling $9,345 and destination charges of $1,295 brought the delivered total to $81,940.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.