Registry Tampa Bay

There’s this term “stealth luxury”. It’s when you want something that’s big on creature comforts, but don’t want the bling, or in-your-face ostentatiousness. 

Anyone with the last name Kardashian can probably stopping reading now.

But it’s why the best-selling Rolls-Royce models these days are the Black Badge editions. Here, every bit of shimmery chrome is coated in black, and shiny paint is replaced with dull matte. Usually black.

It’s when someone who can afford a $100,000 super-luxe, XXL-sized SUV, like a fancy Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator, takes one look at the acres of chrome and says no thanks, I’ll take that GMC Yukon Denali.

After a week spent luxuriating behind the wheel of the latest 2024 Yukon Denali Ultimate, price tag a slightly eye-watering $101,245, I can honestly say that not one person gave it a second look. 

No thumbs up, no “Cool car, man”, no “Nice ride”; it just rolled on a wave of stealthy, Toyota Corolla-like anonymity.  And that was just fine. 

When most new cars and trucks these days try to look like angry appliances – yes, I’m talking about you Mr. Tesla Cybertruck – it’s kind of refreshing not to stand out from the crowd. 

That said the Denali Ultimate is not without its elements of bling. Take its Texas-sized grille that’s adorned with more than 10,000 individual reflective surfaces that shimmer in sunlight. 

And all that shiny chrome decorating the nose isn’t just shiny chrome; its dark tint earns it the name “Vader Chrome.” It goes well with the glittery, unique-to-the-Ultimate, 22-inch rims at each corner. 

Where this latest flagship GMC shows-off its luxury and justifies its “Ultimate” badge is when you open that barn-sized door, step up, and slide behind the wheel. 

The rich, nutty-brown, full-grain leather seats are heated, vented and are embossed with a topographical map of Alaska’s Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America.

Add to that gorgeous open-grain Paldao, a streaky, nutty-brown hardwood from Southeast Asia, that cascades across the dash and doors.

The list goes on. An 18-speaker Bose stereo with Centerpoint surround sound and speakers with etched stainless-steel grills. For added sound immersion, there are also speakers built into the front seat headrests to literally blow your ears off.

As a people carrier, the big Yukon is a master of transporting seven people and their stuff. The second-row captain’s chairs are Barcalounger-comfy, while back in the third row, a couple or three adults can stretch out.

Certainly, the big GMC feels luxurious in the way it drives. Under that towering, mile-long hood sits GM’s tried-and-tested 6.2-liter V8 coupled to a 10-speed automatic.

Corralling a stable of 420 horseys and 460 torques, there’s no shortage of muscle to punch this big boy away from the stoplight or sweep past slower traffic on the freeway. And at cruising speeds, it’s church mouse quiet.

While the 14mpg city and 16mpg combined fuel economy figures are about par for an SUV that weighs roughly the same as an M1 Abrams tank, there’s a six-cylinder 3.0-liter turbodiesel option that goes up to 528 miles on a tank and gets 26 mpg on the highway. 

Standard air suspension, MagneRide adaptive dampers, standard four-wheel drive and suspension tuning similar to a Caddy Escalade’s, give with big GMC a marshmallow-smooth ride. Nicely-weighted steering too, along with brakes that can stop time.

But under all that fancy sheetmetal is an old-school, body-on-frame chassis that shimmies and shakes over potholed blacktop, and struggles to contain the GMC’s considerable bulk on tight turns. 

As to whether all this is worth the $100,000 asking price is down to your desire for stealthy luxury. For me, a similar-priced Escalade Premium Luxury would be just too hard to resist.

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