By on May 24, 2017

[Image: GM]

Some details aren’t likely to spur readers into dropping what they’re doing and taking the rest of the day off to plan their next big purchase, but one change planned for the 2018 GMC Yukon Denali does sweeten the pot.

Large, V8-powered SUVs seldom amaze with their fuel economy, so any improvement in thirstiness is a welcome addition to this mildly refreshed vehicle. While the Yukon Denali stands to gain unspecified MPGs, the brand is more interested in touting a less technological feature.

The grille. Yes, the big, bug-smacking chrome grate affixed to this Denali’s nose gets an upgrade for 2018, and GMC is very pleased with itself. But more on that later.

The real news is that the top-flight Yukon model will gain a 10-speed automatic to pair with its 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8. Gone is the former eight-speed automatic. Slowly trickling into high-torque General Motors and Ford vehicles, the jointly developed 10-speed boasts a wider gear ratio range for added low-end pull and greater fuel economy at highway speeds, as well as smoother shifting.

More than half of all Yukons sold in the U.S. leave the lot dressed in Denali threads, so updates for the top trim level are serious business at GM.

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Grille

Up front, the previous egg-crate grille gives way to more thought-out ornamentation. The automaker claims designers gave the grille a “multidimensional, sculpted interpretation … designed in a layered manner.” Apparently, airflow to the radiator has increased, so it isn’t purely just a styling enhancement. Drag-reducing active aero shutters hidden behind that grille will continue to stifle airflow at speed.

Inside, GMC has decided to ratchet up the luxury just a bit with Mastique Ash real wood trim. As before, the Yukon Denali is offered in regular and XL wheelbases.

It’s a subtle update, for sure, but a meaningful one. As a near-luxury sub-brand (value luxury?) that serves as a cash cow for GM, Denali can’t take customers for granted.

[Image: General Motors]

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76 Comments on “Changes Afoot for the 2018 GMC Yukon Denali...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hatred, snark, I will never buy this, who buys this, will be 50% off sticker next year when it still sitting on the lot, over dependent on trucks, doom, gloom, 9 speeds automatics are bad so 10 speeds must be worse, how many gears does someone need…

    There, just handled 75% of future commentary to this story.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Mastique Ash real wood trim…

    I’d love to go back in time just to tell the 1st owner of a GMC from the mid 60s that real wood would be available in a GMC interior someday.

    • 0 avatar
      GermanReliabilityMyth

      “Yeah? Big deal. I have half a cord of ash in the back.”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        They’d definitely wonder what the heck the point of GMC was once they found out their was no such thing as a GMC engine anymore either.

        I’d love to own an old GMC with the “Scotsman” 6 complete with plaid valve covers.

        • 0 avatar

          IIRC, the last GMC-specific engine was 1967.

          There’s no reason for GMC to exist anymore, other than to placate Buick dealers. Sell these as Chevy Suburbans and save the money you’d use to market the GMC brand.

          All “but Chevies are cheap!!” replies validate my point. Ford competes in this arena – at least with their pickups – and as a result has developed a more premium rep than Chevrolet. GM has only begun to respond with “High Country” and similar premium packages. That’s the direction they need to go until it’s Chevy and Cadillac only in NA. Let Buick thrive in China.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      They’ve been using real wood trim in the Yukon Denali since the advent of this generation. However, it (and the overall interior) doesn’t feel all that befitting of its giant price tag when you step into, say, a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class. So perhaps they’re replacing it with a more-upscale real wood veneer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “its 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8.”

    Good.

    “with Mastique Ash real wood trim. ”

    Also good. (Giving the side eye to you Buick).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I mean, the Yukon XL Is probably the modern equivalent to whatever Oldsmobile’s largest, plushest sedan was in the 60s-80s…while the Yukon XL Denali would be like the top-of-the-line Buick sedan of yore.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    That grille looks like it would be hard to keep clean. Lots of areas for dead bugs to gather in the summer.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Round wheelwells?

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    This generation of GMT K2 SUVs are very handsome. First GM trucks since the C/K that don’t look Playskool cheap.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I think there’s nothing near-luxury or value-luxury about Denali any more. That’s a luxury truck, at a luxury price.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This, and I’ll add one more observation: people who are upset that Cadillac won’t build a modern-day RWD, BOF DeVille or Town Car with a massive V-8 should cast their ire at vehicles like this, not Cadillac. Escalade/Navigator/Denali ARE the luxo-barges now.

      • 0 avatar
        Maxb49

        “This, and I’ll add one more observation: people who are upset that Cadillac won’t build a modern-day RWD, BOF DeVille or Town Car with a massive V-8 should cast their ire at vehicles like this, not Cadillac. Escalade/Navigator/Denali ARE the luxo-barges now.”

        Correct. General Motors cancelled production of the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham along with the Buick Roadmaster and Chevrolet Caprice in 1996 to increase SUV production.

        That said, these vehicles are poor replacements for full size luxury cars. The Continental fills the void left behind by the Town Car (although one may credibly argue that all the Town Car needed was an engine upgrade). People who would have purchased a Fleetwood are not driving an Escalade. They’re driving a Lexus, Lincoln, or large German sedan.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Actually, they may be *better* replacements, if you think about it. They’re not much different than an old American road barge size-wise, but you get immense passenger and cargo flexibility, and all weather / towing capability. Plus, I’ll wager they’d run rings around an old-school American sedan (granted, a lot of that is engine and chassis tech evolution, but there’s a reason why police departments are using these as patrol cars – they’re decent performers). Plus, yes, these are gas hogs, but they’re amazingly efficient given their size and performance capabilities.

          An Escalade is probably twice the car any old DeVille ever was (and I say that as someone who grew up with DeVilles). Buyers recognize that.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Why are these poor replacements for fullsize luxury cars?

          And if the previous Fleetwood demographic is not buying Escalades and Denalis, then who is?

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Crucially, the Panther platform cars needed a host of upgrades, like, ultimately, a new platform. Even the act of giving them dual-stage airbags was going to be prohibitively expensive. Not to mention that—while they printed money hand over first for FoMoCo—they were bringing its brand image down (not that the MKS and Taurus fixed that, but…still).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I just want a 6.2L CT6/CTS, 5.3L ATS, or 6.4L 300C Platinum.

        No need for a 1970s-style BOF limo.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I’d buy a Denali before a Cadillac. In that regard, it is more value.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Also, active aero and 10-speeds… we’re going to head down a slope of unreliability with the GMT vehicles now.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    “Look mummy, there’s a dinosaur down in the street.”

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    I drove the previous generation version as a rental for a week, I averaged 17.5 mpg with mixed driving.

    My Mustang GT convertible I owned at the time barely got 1 mpg better, while this 8 seat Suburban almost matched it.

    Color me impressed.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      GM knows how to build an engine. Ford not so much. That’s why a Ford V6 gets the same or worse mileage than a GM V8.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The certainly used too but I’m not so sure this is still true.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        One should look at mpg in relation to HP now-a-days.

        An EB 3.5 puts out 375hp and 470 lb feet of torque.

        A Ectotec 6.2 is 420 hp and 460 lb feet torque.

        If one looks at torque and HP curves plotted on a graph, the 6.2 makes most of its HP and torque high up in the RPM range and over a fairly narrow range.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          The Navigator will have the 3.5EB with 450 HP.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I do not at all consider this peaky or narrow, although maybe for the truck people wanting a diesel experience it is.

          imgur.com/DEgTTaH

          The stock 3.5EB is not a very sporting engine IMO. It sounds like a vacuum and falls on its face a little over 4000.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @ajla – you don’t need to rev the EB 3.5. If you do, you are just making crappy noises and not going anywhere. I found that foot meets floor driving in an EB 3.5 pickup highly ineffective. Treat it like a diesel and it becomes a much more satisfying experience.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “The stock 3.5EB is not a very sporting engine IMO. It sounds like a vacuum and falls on its face a little over 4000.”

            Who cares if it falls on its face over 4000 RPM. I suspect it pulls good and hard from 1500 RPM to 2500 RPM. Just what you want in a truck motor.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      SD….exactly.

      Seems like the knock on these rigs is the FE. Yet just about everyone I know drives a car/suv that gets the same or slightly better FE. Yet, somehow my Suburban is the one killing the environment.

      FWIW. My neighbor just bought a brand new Tundra, 17′. Loves it.
      Claims that he is getting a bit over 12 mpg.
      That is embarrassing that Toyota, today no less, can’t design a V8 that can match the 16 MPG average that I get in my Suburban, which is a 2008 model.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @87 Morgan – Toyota has a huge stock pile of emissions credits. They could release a Tundra with a V16 getting 4 mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          For comparison, the 8.1L in my Avalanche makes 340 hp and 450 lb ft while getting 11 mpg combined. That is almost 25% more power with more than 50% better fuel economy in 15 years. Very impressed by that 6.2

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Waiting for a Jeep Grand Wagoneer Hellcat.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I’m reminded of the Ford Excursion when I see these things – unless you pull horse trailers for a living, or believe the inverse of global warming (pollute to save the world!), the thought of owning one seems like a nightmare. I think I would require a payment to drive one off the lot.

    Before I thought that the profits on these could at least be use to subsidize GM’s interesting European cars, but now they do what – pay for the development of the next unloved Cadillac sedan?

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Well until they invent something better that can carry me and 3 friends my 3 mastiff luggage and camper.. This will do just fine

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have zero use for one, but for what they are meant for they are pretty great. Of course what they are actually used for is hauling the trophy wife and a couple rugrats around, 99% of the time. But whatever, it’s a nominally free country.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I would buy one only so I could rearrange the emblem to read DENIAL.

  • avatar
    Nooly

    Are they taking away that sweet “buffeting” option?

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Meh. I am going to hold out for the 11-speed. Because it goes to 11.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    How do sales of this generation compare to the previous one’s? It seemed like a friend of mine’s entire family and peer group had the last ones three years ago. Our driveway during a Super Bowl party one year looked like we were operating a fleet of beige Yukon Denalis. I don’t know anyone who has the current generation, and most of the old ones have been traded for imports or fancy pickups and imports. I figured it had something to do with the styling of the new ones. The old Denali was a car that only other rich people knew was expensive. It was a Cadillac Escalade for people who didn’t want to be gawked at. The new one looks like a Cadillac Escalade for people trying to save a buck.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Given the increase in price has to be almost pure profit, GM probably doesn’t care that they don’t sell as many.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      This gen got significantly more expensive than the GMT900 version, even adjusting for inflation. I noodled around with getting one to replace our aging and kind of ratty Envoy XL, but was shocked at the price tag. I still think we’ll replace the Envoy with a Yukon eventually, but I’m going to wait until I absolutely have to.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    I am going to be buying the 2018 Tahoe RST model when it comes out! Full loaded it is $77K! Perfect for my budget! Don’t need the status of a Yukon! With tax and fees; the sales guy estimates about $84K out the door!

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    The last generation looks better to me, inside and out. The curves on the rear side-door windows gave them a nice, upscale look. (And the regular versus “work truck” dash is superior to the current one, ancient steering-wheel controls aside.)

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