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2000-2006 GMC Yukon Denali Review



This is one of my favorite vehicles ever owned.  The 2000-2006 GM big SUV platform is hard to beat in any area by any competitor.  Whether it is a Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, Yukon XL or Escalade, this is a comfortable and quality platform in every aspect.  I have owned several of these big SUVs and have no major complaints.  I'm still struggling with why GM needed a government bail out.  The quality of their big SUV line and pick up trucks and the addition of the LS line of engines should have catapulted them into prosperity.  Since there are some differences between the respective models in this SUV line, I am going to focus on the 2000-2006 Yukon Denali models in this article.  There are two different Yukon Denali models, the standard Yukon which is equivalent in size to the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Yukon XL which is equivalent in size to the Chevrolet Suburban.  The only difference between the Yukon and Yukon XL is length, specifically rear cargo area length.  The Yukon XL is 20.4 inches longer than a standard Yukon and all of the length is in the rear cargo area.


Lets start with initial appearance.  Inside and out these are good looking vehicles.  The entire body has a nice smooth style.  The front end is sleek and sporty looking with the flowing headlights, chrome Denali specific grille and big smooth plastic bumper cover with integrated fog lights.  The Denali models also feature subtle plastic accents on the lower have of the body and smooth flowing running boards.  The chromed aluminum 17" wheels and 265/70-17 tires add a perfect final touch to the Denali edition Yukons.  There was also an even nicer 20 inch chromed aluminum wheel option for the 2005-2006 Denali models.  These SUV's aren't just made to look pretty, they are functional as well.  The front end features sturdy frame mounted tow hooks properly placed in the front bumper cover.  The rear of the vehicle is equipped with a class 3 trailer hitch and 7 pin trailer plug.  The transmission also has a tow/haul mode which is activated via a button on the end of the shifter.  I can't think of any negative issues on the outside of the vehicle.



The interior of these full size SUVs is very comfortable and and fairly quiet driving down the highway.  The seats are comfortable and long trips in one of these SUVs is enjoyable.  The interiors are also equipped with several luxury amenities including heated leather front & middle row seats, 3rd row seating, privacy glass, power moon roof, 9 speaker Bose sound system with integrated subwoofer and 6 disc CD changer, rear entertainment system, radio controls on the steering wheel, wood grain trim, Onstar, rearview mirror integrated compass and temperature, among other features.  A favorite of mine is the integrated HomeLink garage door opener system which is in the front of the overhead console and has 3 buttons that can be programmed to garage doors, remote lighting and just about anything else that is remote controlled.  In addition to the standard Denali features there is optional equipment such as navigation system, DVD player and more.  The layout of the dash and the rest of the interior is both functional and presents a nice appearance.  There is a driver information center (DIC) in the instrument cluster that allows the driver to customize features such as exit lighting, door locking & unlocking, etc.  The DIC also has a trip computer and fuel economy features.  The climate control system (heat and a/c) works very well and is dual zone which allows the driver and passenger to set different temperatures for independent comfort levels.  All Yukon Denali models have a rear entertainment system that allows people in the middle row to plug two sets of head phones in the rear entertainment module in the back of the center console.  This allows the middle row passengers to change and listen to a different radio station than the main stereo.  This also allows the middle passengers to watch a DVD (if so equipped) or listen to a CD independently of the main stereo.  This is a very nice feature for long trips with children.  DVD equipped models also have two sets of wireless headphones.  The side mirrors on these SUVs are heated and have integrated turn signals which is a nice safety feature.  Mirror adjustment is quick and easy with the door mounted power mirror switch.  There are some little known but very useful and convenient  hidden features with these mirrors.  In addition to the turn signal arrows and being heated, the mirrors are power folding so you can fold them in toward the vehicle to gain clearance at car washes and tight areas by centering the mirror selector and holding the adjustment pad to the right to fold the mirrors in and to the left to fold the mirrors out.  This feature is extremely handy at times.  The mirror positions also save with the seat position when saving using the two seat memory options on the driver side door.  This is a nice feature which allows two different drivers to save their seat and mirror positions so when the driver gets in the vehicle, all they have to do is press button 1 or 2 and the seat and mirrors adjust to their saved setting.  This saved time and hassle for my wife and I.  I'm tall and my wife is a foot shorter than me so the seat and mirror positions are totally different between the two of us.  It was extremely nice to be able to just push one button instead spending 3 minutes getting everything adjusted. 


Storage is plentiful in these SUVs, especially with the XL model.  The 3rd row seating is removable and the second row folds down flat which essentially gives you a pick up truck with a cap.  Fitting 4x8 sheets of drywall is no problem.  There are a couple minor issues with the interior of these vehicles.  The first is the finish on the plastic pieces chipping and peeling off, most common on the stereo and center console as seen in the picture to the left.  The driver seats always seam to rip at the seam on the door side of the seat.  There is also a small blind spot in the A-pillar area on both sides but that is something you can adjust to.



All 2000-2006 Denali models come standard with a 6.0 liter high output V8 and all of them are all wheel drive.  As far as the engine, transmission and axles go - no complaints.  The engine has good power and accelerates these 6000+ pound SUVs without a problem.  These engines and transmissions are very reliable also.  I have driven several of these SUVs to well over 250,000 miles and some to over 300,000.  I have never had an engine or transmission failure.  The drivetrain in these vehicles are built solid.  As long as you maintain the vehicle, you can expect to see in excess of 250,000 miles without any major problems.  What you will notice with age and mileage is valve cover gasket leaks and rear brake disc dust shield rust and  deterioration.  Neither issue is a big deal or expensive to fix.  I'm not a big fan of the all wheel drive system.  It works great and is reliable but I would personally prefer a push button 4 wheel drive system like what is used on the standard Yukons and Suburbans.  In most cases it would mean less wear and tear on moving parts and an increase in fuel economy.  The Denali models get about 2 mpg less highway mileage than the standard Yukons do.  Definitely not a deal breaker because you don't buy a big luxury SUV like this for fuel economy.








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