This week, we’re driving the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon, this time delivered with Denali amenities and the 3.0-liter Inline-6 Duramax Diesel sitting under the hood. The Denali 4WD trim has always been GMCs top model and loaded with performance and handling enhancements.

Up first is discussing our tester’s hefty final retail price. Although you’ll need at least $71K to get into this specific model, four distinct Yukon trims are available for ’21. Starting with the rear drive V8 gasoline powered entry SLE at $50,700, pricing moves up to the SLT at $57,800, the AT4 4WD class at $64,800, and finally the final top-line Denali that starts at $68,400 with a 6.2-V8 under the hood versus the diesel’s 4WD entry at $71,400.

The optional Denali Ultimate Package is expensive as it adds $11,205 to the entry price and features just about every enhanced safety and entertainment amenity GMC offers. The end result makes your 2021 Yukon a three-row SUV that is one of the most popular in its class.

Along with its all-new cabin and exterior, this Duramax Yukon three-row sibling to the Chevrolet Tahoe is deserving of the praise it has already received. And speaking of the Tahoe we recently tested, it and the GMC Yukon might not be identical twins outwardly, mechanically they are.

The gas powered Yukon V8 engines available include the standard 5.3-liter V8 delivering 335-horsepower and 383 lb. ft. of torque or the Denali specific 6.2 V8 that delivers 420-horsepower and 460 lb. ft. of torque. Surprisingly, GMC will knock off $1,500 from the regular price if a customer chooses the Inline-6 Turbo Duramax Diesel over the 6.2 V8. If you plan to tow, either engine is a good choice. However, if fuel mileage is a major concern, the diesel delivers 20 city and 26 highway versus the gas-powered 6.2 V8, which musters a best of 15 city and 20 highway. As for the 5.3-liter V8 fuel mileage, the EPA numbers are 16 city and 20 highway.

Duramax Diesel specifics include 277-horses and a whopping 460 lb. ft of torque at your disposal with a maximum tow rating of 9,500-pounds. It’s also quite the peppy performer, with zero to 60 coming in at about 8.5-seconds, which is admirable considering Yukon’s three-ton curb weight. The Duramax Inline-6’s development took place in Turin, Italy, in co-op with GM’s Opel division and is now fully assembled in Flint, Mich.

Cargo is enhanced for 2021 as is legroom for third row passengers. Compared to the prior generation Yukon, the wheelbase for 2021 grows 4.9-inches from 116 to 120.9-inches resulting in the additional room. The vehicle length also improves from 204-inches to 210.7-inches, but if you need more room the new Yukon can also arrive in XL trim (extended length) offering a wheelbase that grows to 134.1-inches and length to 225.2-inches.

Every 2021 Yukon is equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission for both rear-drive and those with 4x4 underpinnings. Our 4x4 features a two-speed transfer case and underbody front skid plates for more undercarriage protection.

Yukon’s ride is exceptional for such a big vehicle. This comes thanks to GM’s Magnetic Ride Control that also couples with an air ride adaptive suspension that s part of the Denali Ultimate Package. Our Yukon’s interior becomes a concert hall thanks to a 14-speaker Bose stereo audio and GMC’s excellent infotainment offerings. Add the Denali Ultimate Package media’s 12.6 diagonal surround sound theater/gaming system, and you’re ready for any highway trip where passengers and family are a part of. Other standard fare includes heated second row seats, Apple and Android capability, third row split bench seat, Premium navigation with voice recognition, Bluetooth, Sirius XM with three month trial, 4G Wi-Fi, and wireless charging apps.

As noted above, cargo room is most generous especially when the second and third row seats are folded offering a huge increase of near 28 cu. ft. compared to the last generation. Another key advantage the new 2021 GMC Yukon is easier third row access because there’s 10 more inches of legroom along with second-row seats that now slide forward and aft and a power fold 60/40 third row seat.

On the safety side, 2021 Yukon’s mass alone can be considered a safety feature. However, Yukon’s standard high-tech features add more to the security measures and include forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking with forward collision alert, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, front pedestrian braking, side blind zone alert, following distance indicator, and a theft deterrent system.

Cabin standard notables include 12-way power heated and ventilated driver and passenger bucket seats, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, perforated leather seating, front and rear 120-volt outlets, automatic heated steering wheel, cargo management system, two USB data ports in each of the three rows, and much more.

Our tester’s above mentioned Denali Ultimate Package might be expensive, but it sure spruces things up with its dual pane panoramic sunroof, automatic power retractable step assist, adaptive cruise, enhanced automatic emergency braking, limited slip differential, rear pedestrian alert, rear camera mirror with washer, multi color head-up display, updated pro grade trailer package with brake controller, tow hitch guidance, hitch view alert, trailer side blind zone alert, enhanced infotainment with wireless Apple/Android, 22-inch Bridgestone rubber on bright alloy wheels, and much more. Your dealer will explain everything when you visit.

Two additional options include $495 for metallic paint and $350 for a sliding power center console. When added to the $1,295 delivery fee, and a $1,000 Denali Ultimate Package discount, the final tally comes in at $82,245.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 120.9-inches, curb weight of 6,000-lbs., from 25.2 to 122.9 cu ft. of cargo space, 24-gallon fuel tank, and 8-inch ground clearance.

In summary, the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon Denali 4WD Duramax Diesel is quite the vehicle, and a beauty in all aspects. Check for both lease and purchase incentives on both 2WD and 4WD Yukons.

Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.

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