Stephen J. Mraz
The Denali Yukon from GMC is based on the same platform as the Cadillac Escalade and Chevy's Tahoe and Suburban, so the fact that it's big should come as no surprise. The truck, SUV, or whatever they want to call it, comfortably seats six, if two of the passengers can figure out how to get in the rear row of seats. It's neither obvious nor easy, and I don't think it can be done gracefully. You're probably better off just removing the rear bench for the cargo room. Otherwise, there's hardly room for beer and chips, let alone a few bags of golf clubs.
For four people, however, the Yukon provides comfort and conveniences, not to mention a DVD system for the rear two seats ($1,295), a Bose surround-sound stereo, and heated leather seats all around. The driver gets the added benefit of some high-end safety features, including ultra-sonic sensors that beep quicker the closer the back end of the Yukon gets to an obstacle, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-adjustable gas and brake pedals, and a key fob that lets you start the engine before you even get into it a big hit with mob bosses.
The vehicle I tested also had a nifty nav system and a rearview camera. The nav system worked fairly well, though I still don't know how to enter destinations on numbered streets (like 23459 185th St.). The car companies should really get together and standardize on an intuitive, easy-to-use nav interface. The rearview camera ($195) is great. It lets you know there isn't anything hiding in the huge blind spot below the back window, and seems to amplify what light there is at night, making it easy to see what's back there. My only complaint is that the view, which pops up on the same console-mounted screen shared by the nav system and other driver controls, is only available when the vehicle is in reverse. Why not let drivers see what's going on behind them all the time? It can't be any more distracting than trying to decipher what's in your rearview mirrors. And the camera has a fisheye lens, so you can even see what's in the blind spots in adjacent lanes.
The Yukon handles easily, thanks to power rack-and-pinion steering, all-wheel drive, stability control, and ABS with disc brakes at all the corners. But it is big. It measures 6.6-ft wide, 16.8-ft long, and 6.4-ft tall. Inside, there's a total of 108.9 ft 3 of cargo room. And the behemoth tips the scales at 5,524 lb, empty. The gas tank, which GMC lists as "approximately 26 gallons," carries enough to get you almost 500 miles on the freeway. The EPA mileage ratings are 13/19 mpg (city/highway), which would be a lot more palatable with gas at $1.50/gallon. But if you can afford the Yukon, the gas shouldn't be an issue. Base price is $47,115, but options and the destination charge took the final tally to $54,740.