By on November 30, 2017

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate Black Edition.

Yesterday, GMC unveiled the 2018 Yukon Denali Ultimate Black Edition, billed as an “exciting new package” featuring the very best in premium GMC styling and attributes.

That’s excellent marketing-speak, but we all know why there is suddenly an uber-Denali: the regular one just isn’t good enough for the school drop-off line anymore.

Jack has alluded to this phenomenon in the past. Coach purses were once held behind glass cases in the finest of department stores. After awhile, they were the de rigeur standard equipment for undergrads on college campuses. Once the brand was picked up by the masses, those looking for exclusivity moved on to something else. In a similar way, now that the Denali has enjoyed several years of popularity, it is almost too popular for those who just gotta have something better than their neighbor.

Enter the Ultimate Black Edition. It offers all the options available on the Yukon Denali, plus unique black-painted 22-inch wheels with chrome inserts, shiny exhaust tip and mirror caps, and is only available on Yukons painted Onyx Black. It has just enough visual differentiation, then, for the guy across the street with a Denali to know you have something just a little bit better.

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate Black Edition.

This, naturally, will lead to that guy across the street either putting his Yukon into a wood chipper or heading down to the dealer to trade his now-useless Denali on the same one you have. Actually, both those options would be equally painful, given the trade-in value he’ll probably get for his six-month old SUV.

Available on 2WD or 4WD models (that this package is available on rear-drive Yukons is telling in and of itself), Ultimate Black Edition includes the Open Road Package, consisting of a power sunroof for the parents and rear-seat entertainment system to placate the kiddos. Power-Retractable Assist Steps are standard, as are Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Automatic Braking.

The Denali sub-brand sells like proverbial hotcakes, with 2017 being strongest year ever for Denali sales. Yukon and Yukon XL lead the portfolio with Denali sales of 50.7 percent and 61.2 percent, respectively, so far this year. These achievements were led earlier in 2017 with the one millionth Denali sold since the premium-lux trim launched with the GMC Yukon in 1999.

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate Black Edition.

Under the hood is the excellent 6.2-liter V8 engine, making 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque while sounding like Chewbacca on a bad fur day. It is wonderful. Starting this year, GMC started plugging the new 10-speed automatic into the Yukon. It makes for a compelling power team.

Anyway, GM is far from stupid. They’ll sell approximately as many of these high-profit machines they can possibly make and will probably create a Hyper Ultimate Black Edition for 2019, starting the cycle of self one-upmanship all over again.

[Image: General Motors]

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30 Comments on “Denali Won’t Do: GMC Crafts a Fancier Yukon...”


  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Granted I’m nowhere near the demographic or the income level to responsibly afford such machines, I’ll still take the new Navigator over this.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Absolutely stunning. This and the Escalade blow the Lincoln Expedition out of the water.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Just as stunning as it was nearly 3 years ago when the Denali was restyled! I don’t disagree that they’re nice, but this platform isn’t the only kid on the block anymore. Need to come to the table with something better than marketing hype this coming year or they’ll feel the pinch like Toyota is with their Tacoma. ColoCanyon is taking a decent slice of Toyota’s cake and the Ranger isn’t going to play nice either.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        It’s never been the only only kid on the block.

        Frankly GMC didn’t need to do anything and they would still print money with these. The fact that they still decided to invest a little to keep interest says a lot.

        It’s not like they’re changing the name and adding a horrendous grille to try and save the brand…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Denali Ultimate Black Edition – “None More Black” would be a great marketing tagline.

    (But I roll my eyes at the thought of a MORE PREMIUM Denali)

  • avatar
    deanst

    Would make more sense to make the Denali more “special” – I.e. More expensive with more features, but that wouldn’t look good on someone’s annual performance review (“Denali sales down? Idiot!”).

  • avatar
    ajla

    They should do a Yukon “SUV edition” which will be a SLE trim with 6.2L, 17s, no air dam, 3.73 rear end, tow package, 2-speed transfer case, and standard front bench.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Optional truck nuts?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You can still get the front “bench” (a 40/20/40 seat with flip-down console) in a basic Yukon or LS Tahoe/Burb for a $250 credit. But between the dash and the floor hump, there’s really no space at all.

      https://imgur.com/a/n6LSD

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The Tahoe Z71 is nice in that it has that higher airdam and GM’s G80 spin-locker out back. A Yukon version of the same would be a start. The 5.3L is plenty for me. Our rental Yukon SLT in Vegas was fantastic, the only GM vehicle in recent memory that felt “special” to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “The 5.3L is plenty for me.”

        It’s adequate, but after driving a 6.2L SUV I don’t think I could happily live with the lower displacement option.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Coincidentally I got to drive behind a new Tahoe Z71 yesterday in traffic. Black with the factory Duratrac tires on the blacked out 17 inch wheels. I don’t care for the blacked out wheel treatment but man that thing has presence. I also think the Duratracs while very capable are a bit overkill for this application. A milder AT tire would have been a better fit IMO.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Is this really what people buy for exclusivity? Over the European brands?

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      Depends on what area of the country you’re in, but in my neck of the woods (Alabama), you’d better believe it. This would be what the rich housewife would drive – the husband would be in a maximally customized F-150, Silverado / Sierra, or Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Head Teacher (living on a ranch on the Navajo Nation, 3 boys, husband ranches and works maintenance for the local hospital) and drives a really plush Savana conversion van – travels all over for athletics.

        She’d be delighted to find a Yukon Denali XL in her driveway. And her neighbors would be jealous.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Same in Tyler, Texas, where some of my in-laws live. He has a fully loaded Silverado, she a fully loaded Burban. They’re not quite flashy enough for Denali, but it’s the same idea.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Even on the coasts, families that need large vehicles that can tow get the Escalade ESV or if they want something less “bling-y,” the Yukon XL Denali

        There’s definitely a market for a nicer version of the Denali, but for what GM is charging, the whole Denali line needs better interiors.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Many people buy Yukons over the Euro-snob SUVs (X5, MB GL, Audi Q7) because the Yukon Denali is a better value and arguably a better vehicle. You get more off the sticker price. You get similar features and in some cases, more features. You get a similar ride with the Denali thanks to the Mag Ride. Apple CarPlay, Heated and Cooled Seats, HUD, Adaptive Cruise, 4WD, Wireless Charging, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Seat Entertainment, Power folding Seats, Captain’s Chairs (Can’t get that in the any of those Euro SUVs)…

      And you get a proper motor, a V8 with 420 HP and an excellent 8 speed, well now, 10 speed automatic.

      There are few if any compelling reasons to buy an MB, BMW or Audi over a Yukon Denali other than arguably better interior materials (I concede this point), design (I think GM has a more functional layout), and snob appeal (debatable when it comes to the Denali brand). But when you’re using it as a people mover, like most of us do and I say that as a Denali owner myself, the snob appeal matters not as much.

      Denali prints money for GM and I’ve assisted in the matter. But these things are good. Really good.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Spartan, the one other point you failed to mention. The Yukon, as compared to the 3 Germans does not lease anywhere near as well. Further the GM buyer, from what I have seen, holds onto their rig a lot longer so the point being is which would you rather own 5 years and 80k miles from now? GMC Yukon Denali, BMW X5, Audi Q7, or the largest MB SUV (forgive me I don’t know the MB nomenclature)?

        From the vantage point of an owner/driver of a loaded 10 year old >100k mile Suburban, I will take the GM product all day long.

        • 0 avatar
          Spartan

          Excellent point 87 Morgan.

          They don’t lease as well. But people keep these things for years. They’re reliable and indestructible. A GM BOF full size SUV with 80k miles is barely broken in. If you’re GM, why cater to leasees when you can get the inventory completely off the books with a purchase instead?

          As for the Euro-Snob SUVs, I wouldn’t want to own an X5 out of warranty. Heck I owned a 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid and sold it after a year. Bought the Denali XL a few days later with no regrets. The Volvo was in the shop more often than any other car I’ve owned. Great on paper, but I spent a very unreliable 5k miles with it and was glad to get rid of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            As the current owner of a Euro SUV (Q7) the Denali is at the top of my list of future vehicles for precisely the reasons Spartan described.

            When I bought my Q7 the GMT900s were the competition and felt a lot cheaper/lower end. However, the higher end K2XXs are bona fide luxury vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          I drove an Infiniti QX90 (or whatever the name of the big, ugly SUV is) last year and was shocked at how much it drove like a Mercedes GL550.

          If you want a BOF SUV, but want something not German and not GM, go drive the Armada or that big Infiniti.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    No doubt GMC will sell a bazillion of these things, proving yet again
    the wisdom of Mr. Barnum’s observation about the intelligence of the
    American public. 22″ wheels on an SUV?

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    How is this “fancier”? It is not another trim level above Denali like the author makes it out to be, it’s an exterior color package, no different than any other monochrome or “blacked out” options on any number of trucks

    Unique leather, amenities, powertrain choices, etc, would be noteworthy.

    That being said, I’m surprised GMC hasn’t done that yet, there’s certainly a market for a “Denali Platinum” or whatever it’d be called for $10k more than the standard Denali.

  • avatar

    I await eagerly the Yukon Denali Hermes Birkin.

    $145,000 before options.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Did the large wheel era come to a halt? 22″ wheels seem so…2007. I thought we would be at 30s by now!

  • avatar
    stuki

    Just don’t expect those 22s with painted on rubber strips, to do you any favors if romping around inside the actual Denali…..

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Where’s the whale penis leather? Oh, never mind – not eco-friendly enough.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “under the hood is the excellent 6.2-liter V8 engine, making 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque while sounding like Chewbacca on a bad fur day.”

    Looking at used 1/2 ton GMC crew cab PU’s & the only reason I am considering one in Denali trim is for the 6.2 V8. It’s main purpose will be to tow & that motor is a frapp’in beast. Too bad a 1/2 ton GMC Sierra in SLT trim w/6.2 is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

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