The saying goes as follows: you never want to own a boat. You want to know somebody that owns a boat. Just the same can be said for a big house, a private plane, or any other measure of opulence that’s otherwise a pinnacle money pit that ultimately sees maximum use just a couple times annually. One might even assume that it’s the same case for a large vehicle, such as a truck or an SUV.
That’s not the case at all.
Take the 2018 GMC Yukon XL Denali. An $70,000 example of body-on-frame Americana, with 420 naturally aspirated horsepower on tap, 7,900-lb towing capacity, and ample room for seven friends that are either bored or unemployed enough to road trip across the country with. Or at least to a rally race 4 hours upstate. Whatever the calendar allows. Even though we exercised the 2018 Yukon XL Denali in its element, enjoying the 18-and-a-half-foot land yacht doesn’t require a special occasion, nor full occupancy to justify purchasing one. It’s as approachable and compliment to drive as some vehicles several segments below it, thanks to the abundance of sensors and camera systems that create a force field of awareness for the driver. And with 8-way adjustable seats, as well as electronically controlled pedals and steering wheel, the cockpit of the Yukon XL Denali can conform to just about any body type and seating position.
The only grievance we’d air out over driving the 2018 GMC Yukon XL Denali is in regard to the mirrors, which we’ve griped about before, are oddly small for a vehicle this large. Likely in no small part due to aerodynamic targets, but we have yet to see any accessory mirrors for this SUV. And it’s not exclusive to the Yukon family. It’s something that’s shared with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, as well. The 2018 Cadillac Escalade, uniquely, has an exclusive set of mirrors that have a taller surface area to let in more reflection. The second is that we’re not too fond of the Bridgestone Dueler tires that GM likes to use on its full size SUV products.
This is all eclipsed when the pedal hits the floor, and the Yukon Denali’s 6.2L V8 rumbles and jets the near-6,000-lb SUV from a standstill in just six seconds. The 10R90 10-speed transmission, which can also be found in the Escalade, and world-beating performance cars such as the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, smartly surfs the power band of the Denali’s L86 V8 engine, far better than the 8L90 eight-speed from last-year’s model. Even in awkward and hesitant city driving, the transmission returns far more confidence in its behavior. Meanwhile, every seat is occupied on the inside, and the near 40 cubic feet is packed with camping accessories. Sport, and utility. And the magnetic dampers subdue just about all of the road harshness from riding on 22-inch wheels, and setup constantly demonstrates surprising composure in the corners for a vehicle of this magnitude.
The big boss behavior of the 2018 Yukon XL Denali isn’t just addicting, it’s also aged well, and remains as the the gatekeeper for the heavyweight class of the luxury SUV space.