Who really needs a large SUV these days? That’s the question I attempted to answer this past week with GMC’s Yukon XL Denali. A decade ago, when gas was cheap and crossovers were still in concept stages, large suvs like the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban ruled the streets. These days, if consumers have people to haul, they buy a car-based crossover. If they have boats or RVs to haul, they buy a pickup truck.
The appeal of plush full-size SUVs on durable truck platforms has waned, but American automakers are still fighting to keep them relevant. The best chance of success at this stage is with luxurious variants like GMC’s Denali brand and Ford’s Platinum trim. Buyers looking for status symbols are drawn to big, brash, expensive models. For these consumers, it doesn’t get bolder than the 2016 GMC Yukon XL Denali.