ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — General Motors, like plenty of American drivers, loves sport-utility vehicles.
Each of its automotive divisions – Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC, offers several, starting with the subcompact Chevy’s teensy Trax and climbing in size to the gargantuan Caddy Escalade ESV.
As sales of sedans shrink, GM is well positioned to take advantage of the national shift to SUVs.
GMC offers a selection of pickups, crossovers and its top offering, the Yukon SUV, which comes in two sizes: the regular Yukon and this week’s tester, the Yukon XL. If you think XL stands for extra-large, you’d be right.
This is the behemoth of General Motors’ SUV array. It features old-school body-on-frame construction, V-8 power and a subdued but rather truck-y demeanor. The Yukon shares its structure with Chevrolet’s two Tahoes and Cadillac’s Escalades.
Our Yukon in top-of-the-line Denali 4WD guise was packed with just about every comfort, convenience and safety feature modern automakers have devised. Those that didn’t come standard are collected in a Denali Ultimate Package which added power running boards, massive 22-inch alloy wheels, an enhanced security package and adaptive cruise control with forward automatic braking.
Add it all up, and the bottom line busts past $80K by a couple hundred bucks.
So how does it drive? Big. This isn’t an urban runabout. Parking in particular can be a bit of a chore. But on the road is where the XL shines. Despite its size and bulk, or maybe because of it, the Yukon lopes along smoothly and quietly. Even on twisty roads, it takes corners more competently than expected, given its truck-based underpinnings.
The big V-8 delivers plenty of power, while slurping regular-grade gas at a 14 city/21 highway rate. The 10-speed automatic transmission shifts up and down nearly imperceptibly.
The interior approaches luxury class with big, comfy, leather-clad buckets up front and generous space for second-class passengers. And there’s plenty of cargo space behind the third-row bench.
The Yukon XL Denali’s imposing presence, roomy, feature-packed cabin and smooth on-road operation make GMC’s top SUV fit for a king – and family.