This week we’re taking a look at the 2021 GMC Yukon XL Denali with the Duramax diesel engine. We’ve looked at two different variations in the past. The XL designation means it is the extended version, roughly the same size as a Chevy Suburban.
Starting with the exterior, the big SUV has the familiar square GMC Professional Grade look. It has 22” wheels that really set it off, the big GMC grill, and the use of a lot of chrome along the sides. A spoiler and dual exhaust set off the rear view.
My review vehicle is the top-of-the-line Denali and it is 4-wheel drive.
You have three engine choices: the big 6.2 which comes standard in the Denali, or you can go with the standard 5.3-liter V8, or you can get the 3-liter turbocharged Duramax diesel, which is what I currently have.
The whisper quiet inline six cylinder diesel offers up 277-horses, but 460-pound feet of torque, which is what really matters with a diesel. The driving range on a full tank of fuel is a pretty amazing 765 miles, and it will tow 8,100 pounds.
While there are so many things to love about the Yukon Denali, the interior is spectacular. The seats are comfortable and lightly bolstered, and you’ll find stitching all around the seats, door panels, dash, and steering wheel.
From the driver’s seat, you see a large speedometer and tachometer and gauges across the top that are easy to see. There is a highly configurable driver info center that you scroll through from the steering wheel.
The Yukon has a 10.2-inch touchscreen that sits low on the dash. It operates the sound system, climate control, Bluetooth, navigation, Wi-Fi, settings, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa.
A swipe to the left gives you many more settings and you can add your own apps. Under that are A/C controls, a couple of USB ports, a wireless phone charger, and cupholders. To the left of the touchscreen are your gear shift buttons which are easy to operate. Push for park, pull for drive and reverse. The Yukon comes with the start/stop technology, but there is a button to the left of the steering wheel to disable it.
Let’s talk about the center console, one of the coolest features of this SUV. There is a switch to electronically slide the console back to get the cupholders closer to the 2nd row occupants. For front occupants, there is a slide-out drawer for valuables that cannot be accessed when the console is positioned forward. This would be a must-have for me just $350.
Moving to the second row of seating, this one has heated captain’s chairs with armrests that are super comfortable and they slide and recline. Rear passengers can control their own temperature, have USB ports, and a 110-volt power outlet.
All rear occupants can enjoy the ride with the rear seat media system with two vibrant 12.6” screens in the rear that will display their own content. You can share the navigation screen from the front, use your wireless device, or watch a movie from a Fire Stick. It is an amazing system.
Entry to the third-row seat is easy with a power button just inside both rear doors that double flip out of the way. Far back passengers can access the button, too, in case they get stranded back there.
The third-row seat is very roomy. Two full-sized adults will be very comfortable and rear Air Conditioning vents are in the ceiling for added comfort.
Cargo area is massive due to the extended length. Power buttons will allow you to fold the 3rd and 2nd row seats down to a completely flat load floor and have an amazing 144 cubic feet of cargo. You can pop the rear glass open for easy loading OR open the entire power lift gate from the front, the rear, or from the key fob.
This Yukon Denali has all the popular comfort and safety features you want including power tilt and heated steering wheel, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, remote start, rear seat reminder, a terrific Bose stereo, Panoramic moon roof, rear camera mirror, a head-up display, and trailer towing package.
Fuel economy with the Duramax is rated at 20 in town 26 on the highway, and 22 overall, amazing mileage for a 3-ton SUV. MSRP on this one is $84,945 with every option I can see available.
This SUV is very large, but easy to maneuver and super comfortable to drive and ride in. With this SUV, road trips will never be the same.
- What I Liked Most: The interior and fuel economy.
- What I would change: Would love a brake hold button.
- Fuel Economy: 20 city/26 highway/22 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,400 miles.
- Official Color: Dark Sky Metallic.
- Weight: 5,900 pounds (approximately).
- Spare Tire: Full-sized.
- Length-Width-Height: 225.2” long/81” wide/76.5” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 38 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 8,100 pounds.
- 2021 GMC Yukon XL Denali Duramax Diesel in a few words: It is large, but a very enjoyable large SUV with a lot of capability, great fuel economy, and tons of comfort.
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile power train coverage with roadside assistance, courtesy transportation, and free first maintenance visit.
- Final Assembly Location: Arlington, TX.
- Manufacturer's website: GMC
- Up Next: 2021 Chevy 2500 Crew Cab.