Road Test: 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate

If big and bold if your thing, few vehicles fit both those words quite as well as the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate.

Of course, the price of this model also matches those criteria, with a starting price of $110,203, and an as-tested bill of $113,738. The only options on our tester were the illuminated liftgate sill plate ($595) and illuminated front door sill plates ($745).

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

In addition to being big and bold, the Yukon Denali Ultimate is also a very luxurious ride with lots of room for seven passengers.

Powertrain: The all-wheel drive Yukon Denali Ultimate also has plenty of power. That comes from the large 6.2-litre V8 under the massive hood, paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

It produces a whopping 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, which is pretty much required given the size of the Yukon Denali Ultimate.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

Power delivery was pretty good, and the transmission worked fairly smoothly in handling it all.

Of course, along with that power and weight comes elevated fuel consumption.

While GM estimates the Yukon Denali Ultimate to perform at 15.0 litres per 100 kilometres, I managed no better than 19.2 L/100 km. And with premium fuel, that can get costly in a hurry.

Exterior: Everything about the Yukon Denali’s exterior styling is oversized.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

Starting with the massive chrome centre grille, equally oversized headlights and the 22-inch 7-spoke ultra-bright machined wheels, it’s really hard to miss this vehicle.

To help you get in and out of the seven-seater, a powered step unfolds each time you open the door. Given the Yukon’s height, it’s a welcome addition.

The Onyx Black tester also features a quad exhaust at the rear, and a large rear hatch that opens up to a generous cargo area.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

Interior: The cabin is quite luxurious and thankfully not awash with black surfaces. The Alpine Umber, full grain leather seating surfaces and equally coloured trim pieces enhance the overall look and feel of the cabin.

I am still not sold on the push/pull button setup for the transmission selector in the dashboard, but other than that, most other controls are contained within a section of the centre stack in neatly organized buttons and knobs.

The second-row Captain’s Chairs benefit from individual entertainment screens on the backs of the front seats. To access the third row, the seats fold and flip forward to make it more accessible.

The rearmost seats can be easily lowered or raised, depending on need, at the touch of a button in the cargo area. That’s a handy feature to have and drastically increases the available cargo space.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

Infotainment: Given the girth of the rest of the Yukon Denali Ultimate, I half expected to see a larger infotainment screen.

Not that the 10.2-inch screen on the tester was small, I guess the vehicle just lends itself naturally to something larger.

As is, the system comes with Google built into it, and offers wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.

The system also allows for personalized profiles for multiple drivers and comes with satellite radio and navigation.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

The sound in the Yukon Denali Ultimate is pumped out of an 18-speaker Bose Performance Series system, including speakers in the headrests.

That rear-seat media system features a pair of 12.6-inch screens, with Wi-Fi projection capability and they are compatible with Bluetooth headphones.

Drive: Since the Yukon Denali Ultimate could easily be used as a limousine, it should come as no surprise that it drives like one.

The ride is very well insulated from outside road noises, and it floats over road imperfections ensuring occupants are always enjoying a comfortable ride.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

There’s clearly no shortage of power from the engine, and throttle response for acceleration and passing slower vehicles on the highway is very quick.

And this is definitely not a nimble vehicle with its overall size.

Conclusion: There remains a market for these large seven-seat behemoths, even if it is most often associated with being on the fleets of limousine or high-end taxi services.

The Yukon Denali Ultimate is likely not on the shopping list of most, but this version of the sport utility offers up a very comfortable and luxurious cabin for you and your family.

There’s a pretty steep price to pay for all that, however, not to mention the rather excessive real-world fuel consumption I experienced during my week with the vehicle.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate
Price as tested: $113,738.00
Freight: $2,095.00
Configuration: Front engine/Four-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 6.2-litre V8/ 10-speed automatic
Power/torque: 420 horsepower/ 460 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Premium (91 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 15.0 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 19.2 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Jeep Wagoneer, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia
Website: GMC Canada

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