2018 GMC Yukon XL Denali offers super-sized space, luxury Featured

May 08, 2018 Hit: 328 Written by 
If space is what you need, the GMC Yukon XL won't disappoint.
If space is what you need, the GMC Yukon XL won't disappoint. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Numbers don’t lie, and in the case of the 2018 GMC Yukon XL, the numbers are pretty staggering.

It’s among the largest and longest vehicles available to car buyers, coming in at 224 inches long, 81 inches wide and 74 inches tall.

This big boy is a truck-based twin to the Chevy Suburban, with the main wrinkle being its Denali trim level, which pushes the Yukon XL into a higher echelon in the GM landscape.

I recently tested this behemoth and I’m back with a full report.


Size is everything with the Yukon XL, which grows from the base Yukon by more than 20 inches in length. Leg room in the third row also grows by nearly 10 inches when moving up from the standard Yukon to the XL, and cargo volume behind the third row more than doubles.

Point blank: Everyone and everything in the Yukon XL will be comfortable and roomy.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 GMC Yukon XL Denali
  • Price as tested:: $81,550
  • Best feature:: Massive size and storage, luxury design, impressive towing capability
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Those seeking something powerful and over-the-top large to haul loads of people and cargo.

Outside, the Yukon XL looks very muscular, but also remains stylish.

Seating arrangements vary, as you can choose up to 9 (3/3/3) and as few as 7 2/2/3. I had a seven- seat setup with extra comfy captain’s chairs. The third row is perhaps the most roomy vehicle out there, even for adults.

The Denali trim level turns this into luxury ride inside and out. Pretty much Escalade territory, for a little bit less. You get 22-inch wheels on the Denali Ultimate package, plus helpful running boards and more. Heated and vented front seats are offered, along with heated second-row seats.

Cargo volume is massive in the Yukon XL. A huge area opens up behind front seats with back rows down, with well over 100 feet of cargo space available for whatever you might want to take with you. (121 cubic feet to be exact with 2nd and 3rd rows down; 76 cubic feet with 3rd row down, and 39 cubic feet with all rows up)

The Yukon XL also features plenty of cup holders and storage space throughout the vehicle, as it should with so many passengers potentially inside. There’s even a  hidden compartment up front for storage in the dash..

Fittingly, the Yukon XL is made in Texas, where everything is bigger.


The Yukon XL I tested featured a 6.2-liter, V8 engine; paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Output was 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque  

The Yukon XL is also offered with a 5.3 liter V8, boasting 355 horsepower.

Several variants (RWD, AWD, 4WD) are offered, and towing capacity reaches an impressive 8500 pounds if equipped properly.

On one hand the Yukon XL drives forcefully due to the powerful engine, but there’s no getting around the fact that is quite slow getting up to speed and very much a pain to park at times. You have a lot of vehicle here, so plan for such things. Typically I just parked far away from others, which is a smart move anyway.

Also due to its size, the Yukon XL is not nimble in turns, and you should also avoid tight spaces where it might be tough to get out of.

If you go for the Denali trim, the Yukon XL offers a magnetic ride control suspension for better comfort and handling.


My test vehicle featured an easy-to-use entertainment system allowing rear passengers to watch DVDs. There were two screens … one for 2nd row and the other for 3rd row. Unfortunately they hang down in the middle of the vehicle and impose on driver’s rear sight lines. I would have preferred them behind headrests.

An 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen is standard, as are onboard WiFi and 4G connectivity.

The infotainment system and navigation are a breeze to use, both on touchscreen and by voice. Big thumbs up in this area.

The Yukon XL is also Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible for phone mirroring on the touchscreen, and you have Bluetooth for streaming music and phone calls and messages.

Being a GM vehicle, OnStar services are also featured for you safety and convenience. Wireless phone charging is also included and works very well.

Other safety features include:

-- Rear vision camera

-- Rear cross traffic alert

-- Lane keeping assist with lane departure warning

-- Forward collision alert

-- Lane change alert with side blind zone alert

-- Tire pressure monitoring system

-- Low speed forward auto braking

-- HiD headlamps

-- LED daytime running lights

An impressive 10-speaker Bose surround sound audio system is offered in the Yukon XL, and it gets mostly 4 and 5 star safety ratings (only one lower is rollover, with a 3 star ranking).

Official numbers on the Yukon XL are 14 city/21 highway/16 combined... I averaged 16.2 mpg.

Let’s be honest. Nothing in this category is going to do great on fuel mileage; the vehicle weighs three tons for pete’s sake. To be fair to the Yukon XL, all of its competitors are basically in this same range.

On the plus side, it’s a big gas tank, you can go 500-plus miles in a fillup.


While the base Yukon XL starts about $52K, the Denali version starts around $69K. By the time features including the Denali Ultimate package were added, my test vehicle was just over $81,000. No small chunk of change, but it’s still less than an Escalade.


Due to its muscular look, extremely roomy interior and solid tech features, the GMC Yukon XL is one of my favorite extra large rides available today, with the caveat that was also imposing and made things difficult at times.

It’s definitely not for everyone (the price alone takes care of that), but if you're thinking big and want a high end ride without going as far up the chain as Escalade, the 2018 Yukon XL fits the bill.

========== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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