When you badge your XXL-sized SUV the ‘Ultimate’, as in GMC’s brand new Yukon Denali Ultimate, you’d better lavish it with everything, including the kitchen sink.
OK, so the aforementioned sink might not be on the long list of standard features. But pretty much everything else is. You name it, and the Denali Ultimate probably has it.
Everything from buttery-soft leather in Alpine Umber that’s designed to have the color, feel and stitching of a high-end baseball glove.
Add to that gorgeous, open-grain Paldao, a streaky, nutty-brown hardwood from Southeast Asia, that cascades across the dash and doors.
And those etched squiggles on the Paldao dash isn’t the work of some mischievous six-year-old. It’s a laser-etched topographical map of Alaska’s Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America.
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 mind.
Step outside, and this Ultimate Denali looks the part with its Texas-sized grille adorned with more than 10,000 individual reflective surfaces, as if it’s been splashed with makeup glitter.
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.
The list goes on. And on. As it should for a super-luxe family hauler that stickers at a very lofty, and frankly ambitious, $96,755.
And here’s the dilemma. For actually less money, you could be driving the latest Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury 4wd ($92,990). And that comes with the awesome AKG Studio-19 mega sound system and huge 16.9-inch OLED touchscreen.
Or you could roll in a very nice Lincoln Navigator Reserve for around $91,935. And for not much more, you could be driving a swanky Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 (from $105,000).
Where I think the Denali Ultimate appeals is to buyers looking for what you might call ‘Stealth Luxury’. Something that’s big on creature comforts, but isn’t as blingy and ostentatious as an Escalade or Navigator or Benz.
Certainly the big GMC is 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 speed, it’s whispered 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 765 miles on a tank.
The Ultimate’s standard air suspension and Magnetic Ride Control adaptive damping delivers an almost magic carpet-like ride, soaking-up lumps and bumps like Mr. Brawny on a kitchen spill.
It also does its best to tame the body roll when you steer the tall-riding, three-ton Yukon into a tight curve, though it’s hard to overcome physics. Thankfully, the steering is nicely precise and responsive.
One stand-out feature of this new Ultimate is the $2,200 option of GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance technology. It lets you drive hands-free on over 200,000 miles of divided highways in the US and Canada.
It’s perfect for those endless drives to grandma’s house. But, for me, when you call your vehicle the ‘Ultimate’ surely this should be a standard feature, not a pricy option?
As with all Yukon Denali models, the Ultimate does have enough interior space to schlep a team of NFLers to the game. All three rows have stretch-out legroom, along with space in the back for all their gear. It’s huge.
And if you want to add that kitchen sink to the package, I do know an excellent plumber who’d be happy to help you out.