Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A black 2018 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate is shown on a lot after leaving a used GMC dealer.

A Used Denali Can Transport You in Style

In a world where the limousine has become cheesy and old-fashioned, where does that leave us for ways to arrive in style? Enter the black SUV: tinted-out windows, big wheels, and Very Important People inside. When you hear the name GMC Denali, a distinct picture comes to mind. A conjured image of people in formal wear exiting the passenger row.

What does a Denali have in common with saving money? Neither ever go out of style. Since their arrival, Denali trim GMC vehicles have been the stepping stone to luxury within reach, but which ones are the best? We explored the vehicles you might find at your used GMC dealer and found a handful of sophisticated models of yesteryear to transport us to our favorite destinations while skipping the splurge.

We looked at some of our favorite used GMC vehicles with this trim and found the market has tons to offer. With the Denali trim package available on GMC’s most popular vehicles, it’s a savvy way to enhance a practical truck or SUV. With the Sierra 1500 Denali, a work truck is transformed into a comfy escape. The Terrain Denali takes a compact SUV from ordinary to extraordinary with fun features normally reserved for a much more expensive make. And finally, with a Yukon Denali, you get to be the VIP.

Buying Used Made Easy

Whether buying new, used, or Certified Pre-Owned, GMC takes the utmost pride in sending their drivers off with a car they can feel confident driving. There are many benefits of buying used from GMC that you don’t get from many competitors in the same class. For example, GMC Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are inspected and reconditioned before being sold. In fact, GMC’s used car program is one of the most thorough in the industry.

Beginning right at the point of sale, drivers have the benefit of not one but two factory-backed warranties. One of the warranties is a new, longer 6-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty (whichever comes first), and the other is a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper Limited Warranty that includes roadside assistance. In order to earn the title “Certified,” GMC dealers are required to complete any safety recalls before a vehicle is listed or sold. All of these measures speak volumes about GMC’s incredibly high standards for their used inventory, and we definitely suggest grabbing a CPO Denali if you can find one.

What Is the Denali Trim?

The Denali name represents the top-of-the-line trim on GMC trucks and SUVs. Effectively, ordering your GMC with the Denali moniker means getting the most luxurious and comfortably configured model the brand has to offer. Originally introduced in 1998, this nameplate of GMC’s lineup has been wildly successful. The trim has become a bit of a status symbol, recognized throughout the automotive industry as a peak of luxury. The sales have spoken for themselves, with Denali branded vehicles making up roughly 20% of all GMC orders.

Needing a way to compete with Lincoln, Cadillac, and BMW, GMC decided to pivot by offering higher-end options to their prospective customers. Borrowing the name “Denali” from both the Denali National Park and Preserve and the native Alaskan Athabaskans/Koyukon people’s name for “tallest mountain in North America,” a vision was born. A bolder, more sophisticated line of trucks and SUVs adorned with polished wheels and leather interiors and sprinkled with the latest technology in the cabin.

So how did word spread so fast about Denali? Part of the answer revolves around the aesthetically pleasing appearance of cars bearing the name. Looking back at the first one, a 1999 GMC Yukon, it’s clear the design team was aiming for regality. Unlike the base Yukon, the Denali featured high-end Nuance leather interior, Bose 7 speaker audio system, 16-inch polished aluminum wheels, and a special exhaust cutout. The body side panels were lowered, and unique wood grain accents lined the front doors and center console. While in-dash cassette and cd players are now a relic from the past, these were considered a tremendous advance in technology at the time.

These touches paved the way for GMC to sell at a markup from the base trim but still put up impressive numbers and flood the market with a cost-effective competitor in the segment. Over the years, the package kept improving, and recent vehicles wearing the Denali nametag have become the surest way to ride in style without dishing out the top dollar charged by its closest competition. That’s why exploring the used and Certified Pre-Owned GMC Denali options is a surefire way to get the best of the best without breaking the bank.

Yukon Denali (2018-2020)

Recent production years of the Yukon Denali are true to the direction GMC wants to go: establish a model that’s fun and flashy, more affordable than the Cadillac Escalade, and more exciting than the Chevy Suburban. For 2018, the Yukon Denali comes outfitted with 22-inch head-turning wheels, a sunroof, rear-seat entertainment, and an astonishing 8,500 lbs of towing capacity. Picture the ease of towing a boat to a nearby lake while keeping your passengers entertained along the journey. The engine itself boasts impressive numbers through a 10-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode and a V8 engine producing 420 horsepower. With that kind of power, we are immensely impressed by the fuel economy estimates of 14 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway.

A black 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is shown driving away from the ocean.

Sierra 1500 Denali (2018-2020)

We can’t talk about GMC without talking about trucks. With the Sierra 1500 being a staple in the pickup truck segment, we thought the Sierra 1500 Denali slightly used 2018-2020 models have a lot to offer for both new fans and old diehards. Take the 2019 engine as an example; with the option of a 5.3L V8 or 6.2L V8, it’s a thunderous workhorse. The Denali trim comes outfitted with a six-way adjustable tailgate. The adjustable tailgate is user-friendly and easy to convert for climbing, stepping, and transporting larger cargo.

The bed is made of steel but lined with durable and lightweight carbon fiber that’s scratch resistant and knocks 62 lbs off the preceding all-steel bed. The front of the truck hosts the aggressively growing grill and is studded with LED lights. GMC didn’t slack on the interior either. The cabin features sleek and durable leather, open-pore wood, and aluminum trims. Used as a work truck, it can turn a tough day into a retreat with all its comfortable additions and outstanding performance.

Terrain Denali (2018-2020)

If we’re going to talk about GMC SUVs, we certainly cannot leave out the Terrain. With its growing popularity as a compact SUV, spinning off the Terrain as a Denali was a no-brainer. For the 2018 model year, GMC fine-tuned their premium Terrain. Some of the highlights include authentic aluminum trim, an expanded center console with pass-through storage underneath, active noise cancellation, LED headlamps with signature lighting, and beautiful, soft materials lining the cabin on the panels and doors.

The styling is quintessential Denali: 19-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels with dark-painted pockets, a satin-chrome multidimensional grille, body-color fascias and lower trim, and Denali-specific suspension tuning and urethane spring isolators. The unique aspects of the Denali trim can also be found in the Denali-specific leather-trimmed seating with heated front seats, both featuring the Denali logo stitching. With a wide range of extras at a still-affordable price point, the Terrain Denali is easily the fanciest SUV in its class.

A grey 2018 GMC Terrain Denali is shown in front of a barn.

Explore Used Denalis

Whether it’s the compact Terrain, the full-size Sierra 1500, or the larger-than-life Yukon, the added Denali badge takes these cars from good to great. GMC’s rigorous standards for their used car fleet make purchasing a used or Certified Pre-Owned Denali a worry-free process. The bold and beautiful touches of the Denali combined with the available warranties and maintenance make it more than appealing. GMC makes it realistic to get in a vehicle you can love for years to come. So if you’re purchasing a used GMC vehicle, go big and go home with a Denali.