First Drive: 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali

There are vehicles out there that make statements, and then there are those that recite entire passages on the pavement.

The 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali is one such vehicle.

It's huge, luxurious, and doesn't care much about trivial things like fitting in parking spaces or burning an extra litre or two of fuel.

It's a minivan for those too rich to drive a minivan, a spacious family hauler that offers room for seven—or eight—and enough towing capacity to move just about anything.

And it's great.

The first thing to know about the Yukon XL Denali is that its presence is unmistakable.

Built on the same platform as lightly downmarket Yukon and Yukon XL, the Yukon XL Denali is the $80,000 do-it-all that brings a whole lot of luxury to the fullsize SUV segment.

While the market ebbs and flows its way towards smaller crossovers and sport utilities, this truck is large and in charge.

At almost 19 feet long and nearly seven feet wide, the 6,000-lb. Yukon XL Denali dwarfs just about anything in its path.

For perspective, that's about two feet longer than the Yukon, sans XL.

That extra cabin space translates to some of the most impressive cargo space out there—3,430 litres with both rows of rear seats folded, and an outrageous 1,100 litres behind the third row alone.

Throw in the truck's 7,800 lbs. of towing capacity for good measure, and the Yukon XL Denali may be the perfect hauler.

Another thing to know about the Yukon XL Denali is that, when you're not hauling people or stuff, it will make you want to listen to hip-hop music.

Maybe it's the 22-inch wheels or the 10-speaker Bose audio system, but you'd be hard pressed not to feel like a boss when sitting in the driver's seat.

The back seat ain't a bad place to be either, with an available Blu-ray entertainment system that includes two folding nine-inch rear screens, one for each row of seating.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the rest of the cabin is about as well appointed as business class on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The seats are sublime, the aluminum and wood trim is superb, and the active noise cancellation blocks out just about everything, including the hum of the 6.2-litre EcoTec3 V8 stuffed under the hood.

All things considered, the engine, which makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque, is fairly fuel efficient thanks to cylinder deactivation technology that turns the hulking V8 into a fuel-sipping four-cylinder on the highway.

Highway fuel numbers provided by GM claim about 11.7 L/100 KM—a number that is accurate if not a little of an underestimation, with the truck routinely dipping in the low 10 L/100 KM mark at reasonable cruising speeds.

Riding on GM's Magnetic Ride Control suspension, the truck is constantly adjusting damping for a smooth ride over virtually any surface.

As far as sport utilities go, the Yukon XL Denali may be the top dog around.

Sure, it's not for everyone, but there's nothing else out there that commands so much attention while providing so much utility that it puts nearly every other SUV to shame.

The market may be moving to smaller crossovers, but the Yukon XL Denali still reigns supreme.

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