The 2016 Yukon Denali lets us fit everything in.
Holidays are a time 0f excess: too much food, too much family, even too much car.
Or maybe, truck.
We drove a 2016 Yukon Denali, a full size SUV, to Thanksgiving at my brother’s because two of my three children were home, we had the dog, and we were picking up my niece and nephew for the trip.
We could have even brought a few more along for the ride. With three rows of comfortable seats, this truck-like SUV is designed for large family gatherings or trips to the mall on Black Friday (another one of our plans for our test drive). Three people easily fit in each row of seats, and there is enough leg room for a dog at your feet. We also took some friends to a new restaurant in another neighborhood and my friend who is 6 ‘6″ still had head room in the second row. Unfortunately, with the short days of late fall, it was pitch black by the time we picked him up and we couldn’t document the ride.
Technology helps deal with size
On many new cars, lane keep assist isn’t really necessary, but with a vehicle as large as the Denali, it is really useful, particularly when we were driving down streets with double parked cars. The seat vibrates when you are too close to another car, and it goosed me constantly as I piloted the SUV through our narrow roads. It also kept me honest in toll booth lanes and when construction narrowed the path over the Whitestone Bridge.
The huge mirrors and rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor and forward collision alert all play their part in making you feel safe on the road, too.
Apple CarPlay – truly plug and play
When PC users switch to a Mac, they are usually astounded by the plug and play capability of their new computer. In much the same way, the Yukon has Apple CarPlay, and getting your phone to work through the vehicle’s infotainment system is as easy as plugging it into a USB port. As soon as I did that, my phone showed up on the eight inch touchscreen and my music started playing through the 10 speaker Bose sound system.
OnStar or navigation system? Pick your fave
With the Yukon, you can call OnStar for directions or add them manually, or through voice recognition. I appreciate that GMC lets a passenger dismiss the vehicle moving alert; so many cars disable the nav functionality when the car is moving, but here you can add override that and add an address.
I found out that if you use OnStar, traffic isn’t taken into account. As we drove around on Thanksgiving weekend, in typically gridlocked NYC traffic, we relied on adding our destination so we could check out alternate routes and avoid traffic jams.
Fold flat seats and plenty of storage
It is a snap to fold the seats down and the 2nd row folds all the way into the front so there is tons of cargo space. But even with the passenger seats filled, the trunk had lots of room and the hands-free liftgate made access easy. And the Denali sits so high, thanks to the large optional wheels, that when we parked on the street close the another car, we could still open the lift gate; it easily cleared the sedan behind it.
I loved the huge center armrest, which had a cavernous storage space where my big purse fit. A flat surface on the cover held my iPhone nicely; this is the Qi wireless charger pad, which requires a special case or adaptor, but no cord. Then in front of the cup holders are two smaller covered storage areas where you can stick the key fob, sunglasses or a wallet. That also houses two USB plugs and a household plug.
Mind those wheels–big wheels–and the step up into the car
One thing to note if you are bringing an elderly parent is that even with the running boards, getting in and out of the Yukon Denali is not for the frail. My mother could not get into the fully loaded SUV, which had 22 inch wheels (but she also couldn’t get into my brother’s low slung BMW sports car).
What we loved
- WiFi hot spot
- OnStar or easy to use nav system
- Apple CarPlay
- Qi wireless charger
- Automatic running boards
- Tons of storage, including a huge place to stash a purse
- All the latest safety technology
- Third row that is comfortable for adults
- Fold flat seats
What you need to know
- Base price: $68,045; price for the model we drove, with power sunroof, rear entertainment system, 22 inch wheels and tricoat paint, $74,400
- Fuel economy: 15 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway; 17 combined
- Takes regular gasoline