2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate Cranks Up the Fancy
The GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate is a surprisingly subtle yet thorough makeover to turn the Yukon into something truly special.
GMC is climbing even higher with a new Yukon Denali Ultimate trim meant to transform the top-shelf Yukon into something even more premium. It has more speakers, massage seats, and GM’s Super Cruise hands-off driver assistance tech.
GMC first applied the Denali name to a GMC Yukon in 1999. Now on Sierra pickups and Terrain and Acadia crossovers, it’s how GMC spells “luxury.” Not exactly subtle, the name is taken from the tallest mountain in North America. So we’re to infer Denali is the peak of North American vehicles, right?
It was the peak, but today’s GMC Yukon is a much more luxurious machine than 20-plus years ago. And buyers expect more in the way of features than they did then.
Enter Denali Ultimate, a trim level GMC introduced on the Sierra a couple of years back but is taken much more seriously on this Yukon.
Exterior Gets ‘Vader Chrome’ Trim
We’ll start outside, where the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate gets plenty of exclusive details.
Vader Chrome, a GMC-exclusive dark trim, adorns the grille that now wears a dark-chrome GMC badge as well. The GMC fender vent, usually bright and shiny, is also Vader Chrome, as are the lower-trim accents. The fog light surrounds under the main grille, and the faux skidplate has also been darkened. They’re a mix of Galvano and Vader, though we aren’t sure which is which.
GMC calls the new (and massive) 22-inch wheels a seven-spoke design. But the wheels have seven split main spokes and seven split recessed spokes, so there are more spokes than we’re willing to count. The finish is an ultra-bright machined surface with bright-chrome accents and dark paint around the center.
Full-Grain Leather, Fancy-Pants Stitching
Inside, GMC has really gone all-out with an Alpine Umber color scheme exclusive to Ultimate. The rich full-grain leather covers the seats in all three rows. There is no cheaping-out for the third row here like you might find in other big SUVs.
A twisted contrast stitch highlights the chairs and is again Ultimate-exclusive. Those seats have a 16-way power adjustment in the front row. They also have a massage function, a new addition to Yukon.
An 18-speaker Bose audio system includes stainless steel grille and mounts some of those speakers in the headrests. The real open-pore Paldao wood on the dash and doors gets a laser-etched topographical map of Mount Denali, echoed on the seatbacks.
Gas and Diesel Options
GMC will offer two engines on the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate. A 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower is standard, and GMC’s 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel will be optional.
Both get a 10-speed automatic transmission. Active Response 4WD will be standard, and a four-corner adaptive air-ride suspension with Magnetic Ride Control shocks is part of the package. This should make this brute handle on and off road much better than it has any right to.
Denali Ultimate Trim Brings Hands-Off Super Cruise to Yukon
What won’t be standard is Super Cruise. The hands-off driver-assistance feature is capable of steering, accelerating, and braking on compatible roads. This new system can even handle driving while towing a trailer. It’s the first time for the feature on the Yukon, and it will be an option even on the Ultimate.
The 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate will go on sale this fall. GMC hasn’t said if it will only offer this trim level on the standard Yukon (the only one mentioned), or if you can get it on the longer Yukon XL.