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  1. John Goreham Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com 4/15/2015 Before I drove this leviathan of an SUV, I had my assumptions. Included were; Gas mileage in the low teens, a limo-like ride, and difficult to manage in real-life situations. It took me about one day to see the appeal and realize my assumptions were all wrong. Sure it is big, and it did not fit in any of my garage bays, nor my girlfriend’s, but the Yukon XL breaks more stereotypes than it confirms. Before I had the truck even a full day, I found myself in need of a Home Depot run for a project. My mid-sized SUV would have been hard-pressed to handle the load of flooring and a bathroom vanity I simply slid into the Denali’s huge maw of a trunk. Prepping the Yukon Denali for the load was one of the first of many pleasant surprises. The power seat folding switches at the tailgate work great and are intuitive. The best part was using that switch to put the seat-backs up after I was done. Perfect. Stepping back to the start of my test, the first interesting features of the Denali XL were the goodies included in the Premium Package. Approach and open a door and power running boards deploys. A nifty trick at first, but I tired of them pretty quickly. I also lost about a pound of skin on both legs when I would quickly grab and open a front passenger door to reach in for my phone. When standing too close to the vehicle, the deploying running boards hit you right in the shin and keep coming. The optional heads-up display was novel. I don’t need that in a Denali, but I love it in performance cars. In the Denali, one can adjust the height of the display, something I had never seen before. The adaptive cruise control was handy. Given this vehicle’s mass GM would be doing the public a service to incorporate full forward collision prevention with full auto-brake on every Yukon/Suburban/Escalade built. It would be very easy to hide in the $78K asking price of my test Yukon. Once inside, the Yukon Denali XL impresses with a very clean and well-designed interior. Although I am not a fan of a column-shifter, it does free up space in the center console. The infotainment system was perhaps the standout in this interior. It is simple to use and easy to appreciate. My phone synched in about five seconds, and I loved all the apps and used them intuitively. No owner’s manual required. Hurray to GM for avoiding a mouse-type interface and using touch-screen and steering wheel controls instead. It works. My fellow writers and I simply don’t understand what the “premium” brands are thinking with their over-complex systems. The Chrysler/Jeep/Ram system is the best on the market, and this GM system is very similar. The ride of the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali XL is truck-like. Rolling on 22-inch wheels with low-profile tires is not my preference. The roads in my snow-belt state are pot-holed, broken and a disgrace. That made the ride rather rough in the Yukon. I have been in older Suburbans that were like limos, so I was a bit surprised by the ride. Due to the nature of the vehicle, handling is not a point I will go deeply into. Drive like and adult and the Yukon does just fine. The 6.2-liter V8 is often in AFM-mode and disabling half of its cylinders. The personality of the Yukon works with this arrangement, and I never felt any lack of power. The transmission was perfectly invisible. When I recorded 19.6 MPG over a mixed suburban and highway route, I assumed I made an error and did it again. Same result. I peeked at fellow writer's review of a similar 2015 Yukon, and he got 20 MPG. Wow. I have had small crossovers like the Jeep Cherokee that were just a couple MPG better on the same route. My own mid-sized SUV only gets 20 on this route. GM’s fuel economy tricks are way underrated. Some other notable likes on this vehicle were the heated steering wheel, haptic (vibrating) feedback when parking, and the overall massiveness of the vehicle. This thing is about being big, and it does not disappoint. Due to schedule and weather limitations I did not have a chance to tow with the Yukon, but its ratings are impressive, and the dash has multiple towing aids available. In conclusion, this review might benefit a reader coming from a smaller SUV, who is on the fence about a GMC Yukon Denali XL. From the perspective of a person used to a mid-sized SUV, I found the vehicle very manageable. It is not a commuter car, and you won’t want to take it for Sunday drives in the country. However, let’s be honest, at $78K this bigger-than-full-sized SUV is really for those who can have multiple vehicles in their stable. This one excels at all things work-related and would be the ideal family vacation truckster.
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