2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali: Biggest Just Got Better

‘Twas not even a year ago that I last drove the Yukon XL Denali from GMC, yet here I am behind the wheel of the 2016 model year schooner. I am not afraid to say that I like the size and heft of this vehicle, although I do feel a bit guilty when riding in it all by my lonesome.

2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali/Images courtesy GMC

2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali/Images courtesy GMC

The Yukon XL is GMC’s variant of the Chevy Suburban Carryall, a large utility vehicle that has been in the General Motors stable for more than 75 years. This vehicle has seen significant changes over the years but it remains a leader in its class for passenger and cargo capacity. Others have come and gone but the Suburban Carryall remains true to its clientele.

Suburban Carryall history/Image by David Goodspeed

Suburban Carryall history/Image by David Goodspeed

I mentioned in my review last year that there were apparently two variants of the 2015 model year carryalls as before the year ended General Motors had updated the vehicles slightly to include a new 8-speed automatic gearbox. My tester, as you may recall, was the first-release version of the new large sport utes from the General that arrived in spring of 2014.


Fast forward to this 2016 GMC Yukon XL rolling in grand Denali trim and we get those upgrades from last year and more, including some cool new technology. Right off one notices the valley in the center console armrest that accommodates wireless charging for mobile devices. I roll with iPhone so no go for this soul, but my wife’s SGS6 fits right in and automatically begins recharging when out of its case. Nice.


For the Steve Jobs fans like myself GMC has given the new Yukon Apple CarPlay compatibility…finally! I do find it weird still to talk to the vehicle while driving but it keeps both my hands on the steering wheel, all that is required is a longer push of the voice command button with my thumb (and Siri pretty much talks you through everything).

The 2016 Yukon XL Denali also features the enhanced driver alert package that now includes lane keep assist, meaning the vehicle will provide steering support to gently guide you back into the center of your lane should you drift. (Caution: This is not a self-driving feature for your vehicle and at no time should you take your hands totally off the steering wheel.) The driver alert package also includes IntelliBeam headlamp technology that turns on the high beams when no other vehicles are detected.


Being the Denali edition, our tester arrived with the beefier of the new EcoTec3 engines – a 6.2-liter V-8 that delivers 420hp and 460 lb. ft. of torque. All new large SUV models from GM receive the update 8-speed automatic transmission and our test vehicle arrived with the 4WD driveline that was a blessing with the record rainfall we received this week. Fuel economy, if you must ask, is rated at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for this edition.

The new GMC IntelliLink technology offers 4G LTE WiFi hotspot in your ride for multiple device connectivity and the 8-inch color touchscreen displays all the necessary infotainment as well as the Apple CarPlay screen. And with Halloween approaching, who doesn’t like a little Edgar Winter Group belting Frankenstein through the Bose premium surround audio system. (Caution again: Do NOT use Lane Keep Assist to allow you to play air guitar to Edgar Winter Group!)


Pricing for the 2016 Yukon XL begins at $50,865 with our loaded Denali tester arriving with a final sticker of $76,600. By the numbers, the Yukon XL will carry eight passengers in total comfort and features a wheelbase that is 14 inches longer over the standard Yukon and the overall length of the XL is 20 inches greater. Cargo capacity is 94.6 cubic feet with the second and third row seats folded and 15.3 cu. ft. behind the third row of seats when in use – and those back seats are power folding, by the way. The Denali trim features 20-inch wheels standard with our tester riding on the new 22-inchers. And for the “Karate Kid” in you the rear liftgate can be opened by waving your foot underneath the rear fascia when your arms are full (or in Crane position).


The 2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali (Carryall) is big, for sure. It is the modern-day prairie schooner that carries your entire village and all of your gear, and it does it in style and comfort.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.