Louisiana families of four or more face an age-old question every time they decide to pack up and head to the beach: Do we pack people in the car or do we pack stuff?

Sometimes the kids get to invite friends to go on the beach trip and sometimes the answer is “Sorry, we just don’t have enough room for more than the four of us and our luggage.” If friends are going, it often takes two vehicles to get everyone and everything over to Gulf Shores, Destin or any of the other beach destinations popular with Louisianans.

But with this week’s featured car, the answer can always be “Sure, invite a couple of your friends and let’s go have some fun in the sun!”

GMCs 2017 Yukon XL Denali has more than 122 cubic feet of EPA passenger volume in its three rows of seating. And cargo space behind the third row is 39.3 cubic feet, or more than twice the amount of space behind the third row in most SUVs that don’t have XL (extended length) trims.

The Yukon XL is a vacationer’s dream car, a big, comfortable people hauling machine. And the Denali version just makes it all that much better. Denali models make up more than half of all GMC Yukon sales.

The Yukon XL Denali is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that develops 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic, and 4WD is available. The engine kicks out plenty of power to push this 5,965-lb. beast down the road.

Our test Yukon came with just about every box checked, including a sunroof, rear seat entertainment, 22-inch wheels and power running boards. Also new for 2017 are standard perforated leather trimmed heated and vented front seats, standard heads-up display, upgraded rear seat entertainment, standard low speed forward automatic braking, front active shutters and three new exterior colors: Dark Sapphire, Blue Metallic and Mineral Metallic.

One of the standard new features for the 2017 model year is a teen driver system that allows parents to view the vehicle’s maximum speed, distance driven and the number of times active safety features were engaged.

The XL version is a whopping 20 inches longer than the regular Yukon, which is already a pretty big SUV itself. Very few SUVs have more cargo capacity than the Yukon XL.

The second row of our test Yukon XL Denali was outfitted in captain’s chairs, which made the official passenger capacity seven. If row two is a bench seat, the Yukon XL Denali will seat eight. Some models have an available first-row bench seat, which increases seating to nine.

Inside the cabin, the Yukon XL Denali has three zones of air conditioning, 10-speaker Bose sound, keyless pushbutton starting with remote start, power adjustable pedals, Bluetooth, navigation, wireless phone charging, multiple USB ports and accessory power outlets including a 110-volt plug in. And, of course, the vehicle is a Wi-Fi hotspot and has OnStar with 4G LTE.

GMC IntelliLink with an 8-inch diagonal customizable display is at the top of the center stack, and a heads-up display puts vehicle information right in front of the driver. There is an active noise cancellation system that makes the cabin super quiet.

When it comes to safety, the 2017 Yukon XL Denali has a full complement of airbags, including a front-center airbag and side curtains for all rows. The vehicle offers a suite of sophisticated safety technologies and has a standard rearview camera.

The 2017 Yukon XL Denali gets four out of five overall stars in the government’s safety tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet completed its testing.

2017 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4WD


6.2-liter V8


420/460 lb.-ft.


8-speed automatic


$71,080 plus options & freight

EPA mileage estimates:

14 mpg city/20 mpg highway/16 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

620 miles