2015 GMC Yukon Denali
Full-size news this week in the world of truck-based SUVs: the new Tahoe, Suburban and GMC Yukons have all gone public with a bold revamp ahead of an on-sale date in early February. Remember this moment, because such drastic changes to these lovable family haulers only happen about once a decade.
Such a long model cycle makes sense once you live a few weeks in the life of one of these luxury trucks. For most of the Tahoe’s and Sub’s out there, the key mantra really is Like a Rock. Just get the basics so right that buyers will forgive the shiny and nasty leathers, previous purple-power colored plastic interiors, and a thirst for fuel like a Nascar fan slamming morning beers in the infield.
The Yukon Denali and its siblings will soldier forward over almost any obstacle, tow any ski boat, and - usually - become part of the family identity itself after years of reliable service.
In a segment they once owned all to themselves, there are now far more premium entries to choose from than ever before. Bringing these buyers back into the fold is part of the GMC Yukon Denali’s mission: match or best the Mercedes-Benz GL and Range Rover not just on all-weather ability, but also on technology, performance and style.
Even a quick glimpse at the Yukon Denali’s glamour shots will give you a good idea of the refinements on the table for this generation of GM full-size models. The Yukon Denali gets the pick of all the best new tech, like third-gen magnetic shocks, blue-ray players and more USB ports than an Apple store.
Click past the jump for a detailed look at the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali, with info on its new EcoTec3 direct-injection V-8 engines that increase power and mileage significantly.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali
Horsepower @ RPM:355
Torque @ RPM:383
Energy:Direct Injection EcoTec3
0-60 time:7.4 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:108 mph (Est.)
It was expected that the Silverado and GMC Sierra noses would be grafted onto the Sub and Yukon almost unaltered (as they have been for generations of models.) A surprise, then, that these SUVs are actually much more of a next-generation platform than this year’s new pickup trucks.
The familiar profile outline and styling details for the Yukon Denali are all that continues unchanged versus the current model. A huge chrome grille with "GMC" letters starts things off right, and the grille mesh is now rectangular and has some creasing in its shape. The vertically aligned headlights are so much nicer than the current GMC lights that it is hard to even think about the wide-awake look of the current generation.
Those ugly and dim old lights were a reason buyers needed to go the Escalade route. The new model brings a far classier shape all around, xenon projector beams, and a tasteful LED accent forming a socket-wrench C-shape in each corner. Seems tough and classy, but also functional and modern.
The lower bumper aspect is marked by a deep front air dam — previously only this extreme on the Tahoe Hybrid and Chevrolet Volt. The aerodynamic benefits of this piece are big, and it is design to scrape the ground and be okay.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Exterior Comparison vs. Current Model
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - LED and Headlight Detail
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Exterior Updates
- New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly reducing wind noise and contributing to improved aerodynamics
- Laminated windshield and front door glass to enhance quietness
- Lightweight aluminum hood and liftgate panels enhance efficiency through reduced overall mass
- A standard rear spoiler on the liftgate houses a relocated rear window wiper that is hidden when not in use
- New worm screw-style liftgate arms take up less interior space than the previous gooseneck arms
- Illuminated, power-retractable assist steps available on Denali
- New family of 18-, 20- and 22-inch wheels, including standard 20-inch wheels on Denali.
The interior looks worlds better than ever before. A smooth new dash shape has flow, and interesting layered wood for the armrests and center console decor. The comfy large central armrest is now even softer and better aligned for comfortable driving. The seats are also totally new designs for the internal comfort and support structures. They look much better than the previous perches, which were marked out by spongy cushions, and a super-short seat base that felt like a bar stool.
The new model is much more of a lean-back and enveloped driving positon. Visibility is still not great out back, but all the active safety tech in the GM arsenal is included to keep you safe.
The dimensions inside bring an extra 2.5 inches of front headroom, and an extra 4 inches of from legroom. Very impressive and roomy.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Cargo Area Comparison vs. Current Model
The loading area of the new Yukon Denali is one of its most improved features. The 2015 model year trucks will be the first with a third row that can tumble into the floor (versus being unclamped and dragged into garage for storage.)
A totally flat second row creates a much more versatile cabin than any truck-based SUV to date. As huge as all Tahoes, Yukons and Suburbans are: the old back seats basically had to come out for any hauling duty.
Not light and not a one-man job, taking out those old seats was a back-breaking task. The seating solution for the new model is far superior, with the Denali and other posh trims including a power-folding third row as standard equipment.
The other big change is a new dual hinge setup for the power tailgate. The old hinge was inside, slow, loud, and took up too much space. The new system mounts the components outside the car so there is no impact on cargo space.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Interior Updates
- Fold-flat second- and third-row seats that enhance cargo capability and convenience – including an available power-folding feature
- Approximately two inches more legroom for second-row passengers and easier entry/exit
- All-new cargo management system
- Available power rear liftgate with multiple programmable height settings
- Standard eight-inch-diagonal color touch screen radio with enhanced IntelliLink and available navigation
- Eight-inch-diagonal customizable driver display with three available user themes and available head-up display (Denali models)
- Multiple USB ports, SD slots and accessory power outlets – including a 110-volt three-prong outlet – to support electronic devices of all kinds
- Available Blu-ray/DVD rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens on Yukon XL
- Conversation mirror in the overhead console that provides a panoramic view of the rear seats
- Keyless entry and push-button start.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Interior Dimensions
|Interior Roominess Change Vs. Current Yukon||First Row||Second Row||Third Row|
|2015 Change in Headroom (In.)||2.5||-0.5||0.2|
|2015 Change in Legroom (In.)||4||0||-0.8|
|2015 Yukon Denali||First Row||Second Row||Third Row|
|2015 Headroom (In.)||42.8||38.7||38.1|
|2015 Legroom (In.)||45.3||39||24.8|
|2015 Max cargo room – seats folded (cubic-feet):||94.7||51.7||15.3|
|2013 Yukon Denali||First Row||Second Row||Third Row|
|2013 Headroom (In.):||40.3||39.2||37.9|
|2013 Legroom (In.):||41.3||39||25.6|
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
The 2015 Yukon Denali enjoys the same new engines that are the top choice for Chevy buyers as well. Two large V-8 engines are available, in the familiar 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter sizes. This is the trusty GM small-block engine that might be the most durable and mass-produced design of any internal combustion machine. (Or at least the only one that can make big power versus an econocar four-banger.)
The engines are thoroughly redesigned for 2015. The amount of time spent upgrading the small-block for new emission laws every decade might also be the top versus all other automotive engine development programs. Keep the good throttle response, endless torque and lazy highway revs, but now add direct injection, cylinder cut-off and an EcoTec3 badge.
Power is up by about 30 horsepower and pound-feet of torque for both engines. The smaller V-8 now produces 355 horsepower, while the larger offers 420 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. A new six-speed auto is part of the new mileage goals, which aim to improve all the previous scores by up to 3 mpg each.
The Denali benefits greatly from the Magna-Ride magnetic damper system that is able to keep the shocks soft and smooth over bumps, or rigid and firm going around corners. In addition to faster reaction times than electronically-adjustable dampers, the magnetic invention is also a godsend on huge wheels. The huge range of plushness or firmness is critical with the standard 20-inch wheels, and especially the optional 22-inch set.
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Mechanical Details
|Engine||5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 With Direct Injection and Active Fuel Management||6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 With Direct Injection and Active Fuel Management|
|Transmission||6-Speed Automatic||6-Speed Automatic|
|Powertrain Layout||Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive (4WD Opt)||Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive (4WD Opt)|
|0-60 mph (Seconds)||7.4, est||6.8, est|
|Top Speed (MPH)||108, est||108, est|
|EPA Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined)||16/22/27, est||16/20/27, est|
2015 GMC Yukon Denali - Safety Features
- Forward collision alert
- Front park assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane change assist
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control
- Front and rear automatic braking
- Safety Alert Seat
- Standard head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for both seating rows.
- Standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags for driver and right-front passenger provide thorax and pelvic protection.
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both.
- Available Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist that can detect certain stationary objects in the rearward path of the vehicle and send an audible warning sound.
- Rearview camera system is standard on Denali and SLT models and available on SLE. It is designed to provide the driver with a view of people or objects in the rearward path of the vehicle.
- Side blind zone alert is standard on Denali and available on SLT.
- Standard four-wheel-disc brake system with ABS featuring smooth, quiet operation, longer pad life and more resistance to brake pulsation.
- Pretensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly.
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions.
- Tire pressure monitoring system, standard on all models.
- Standard remote keyless entry (RKE) system provides a second function for the red panic button. Drivers can it to locate their cars without sounding the panic alarm.
- Strong body structure to absorb crash energy and provide a protective “safety cage” around occupants.
Pricing for the 2015 Yukon Denali is not yet available from GMC, but will remain very close to the current model’s $56,820 base price.
The Tahoe looks quite different from the Denali shown here. While the Yukon is also offered in less-equipped base models that are priced within $200 of the Chevy, the Denali package brings upgraded seals, a trunk full of extra insulation, and the highest-performing suspensions. The MagnaRide is a Denali-only feature not offered on the Tahoe.
Wearing the "bold new Lincoln face" from three styling themes ago, the Navigator is hopelessly outclassed by anything designed with a year starting in 2 versus 1. A swanky dashboard cannot hide the appalling refinement and performance problems, ergonomic and tech gaps, and just all-around ancient relic status.
One issue for the GMC Denali line is that it can, at times, feel very tacky next to a real luxury car like the Mercedes-Benz GL. It seems the current Denali is only a chrome-tastic Tahoe with some of the ugliest lighting imaginable. The gaping headlights and a three-pod of round/clear lights in back sent all the wrong signals.
The new model maintains a more refined aesthetic, and also makes these styling changes for critical safety, comfort and packaging reasons. Getting fold-flat seats on GM’s body-on-frame SUVs is rumored to have required a totally new and next-gen platform versus the Silverado facelift.
This change from having the pickup trucks lead off any major updates is smart. As much as pickup trucks are volume leaders and great sellers, real profit margins come from any GM SUV with a sale price above $40,000. Buyers in this segment are generally much more demanding, also.
The new Denali looks sharp, has much better cabin and safety tech and is much faster than ever before. The smart mix of Escalade power, cabin refinement and standard equipment makes the Denali quite appealing.