Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A black 2023 GMC Terrain Denali is shown on an open road after leaving a GMC SUV dealer.

Get to Know the Legendary GMC Denali SUV Line

If you’re interested in a GMC SUV, you may have already heard of the Denali trim––and if not, I’m here to help. Most car brands will have different names for the various trims offered on their vehicles; sometimes, you’ll find a common name across all a brand’s models that indicates a starting trim, a pinnacle option, or one designed for going off-road. This isn’t always the case, which can make comparing different vehicles tricky––but GMC keeps things simple by using a single name to represent the top offerings in its lineup: Denali.

Before you head to your favorite GMC SUV dealer, it’s worth taking some time to look at the options you’ll find and get a sense of what each offers. There are three SUV models offered by GMC in 2023, and each one is available in the Denali trim, which gives you the best standard features and some exclusive options that you won’t find on lower trim levels. However, with the 2023 models, GMC has taken things even further for the full-size Yukon. Not only can you get a Yukon Denali, but there is now a Denali Ultimate trim that elevates this SUV to a whole new level of luxury, sophistication, and advanced technology. Let’s take a look at the 2023 models and what you get with their Denali trims to see why so many people choose these vehicles each year.

2023 GMC Terrain Denali

First up is the Terrain, a compact crossover SUV from GMC that’s fun to drive and perfect for navigating crowded city streets and highways. The Terrain is powered by a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 175 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. You get all-wheel drive standard on the Terrain Denali, along with a premium suspension that allows for a more comfortable ride no matter what the road throws at you.

The 2023 Terrain Denali comes with 19-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels with gray-painted accents wrapped in all-season tires. It features gorgeous aesthetic details that include a unique hexagon-pattern chrome grille. Functionality isn’t overlooked, as the Denali also comes with roof-mounted side rails for added storage options, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, and a hands-free power programmable liftgate. This is a two-row, five-passenger model with 29.6 cu.ft. of rear cargo volume and 63.3 cu.ft. of total cargo space. The Denali also has almost eight inches of ground clearance, which is an inch more than the base Terrain SLE trim.

Inside the Terrain Denali, you’ll find an eight-inch infotainment display with built-in navigation, plus support for Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You get a seven-speaker Bose sound system, an eight-inch multicolor reconfigurable Driver Information Center screen, and a head-up display projected to your line of sight. The Terrain Denali has perforated leather-appointed seating, with heated front seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat, six-way power front-passenger seat, a heated and wrapped steering wheel, and much more. You also get incredible driver-assist features on this Denali model, including Automatic Emergency Braking, Front and Rear Park Assist, an HD Rear Vision Camera, and a Safety Alert Seat that uses vibrations to alert you to potential hazards.

A person is shown sitting in the rear of a 2023 GMC Acadia Denali at a beach.

2023 GMC Acadia Denali

The midsize GMC Acadia Denali is a great way to go if you want pristine luxury in a larger vehicle. You can choose between a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque or a more-powerful 3.6L V6 engine that delivers 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. The Acadia Denali offers both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, so you can customize it to perfectly meet your needs. In this model, you get three rows of seating for up to six people with 12.8 cu.ft. of rear cargo space. Folding down the rear seats gives you 41.7 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the second row and 79 cu.ft. of total cargo space behind the front seats.

The Acadia Denali rides on 20-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels wrapped in all-season tires and features a signature chrome Denali grille. It has LED headlamps and fog lamps, deep-tinted glass on all the rear windows, and body-color door handles with satin chrome accents. Combine all that with heated, auto-dimming outside mirrors that have integrated turn signal indicators and a hands-free power programmable liftgate, and you have an SUV that’s as functional as it is stylish.

Inside the 2023 Acadia Denali, you’ll find a gorgeous collection of features, including an eight-inch infotainment display with navigation, compatibility with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system. You get perforated leather-appointed seating in the Denali with heated front and outboard seats. Both the driver and the front passenger will enjoy eight-way power-adjustable seats. The Acadia Denali has a wrapped and heated steering wheel, an eight-inch reconfigurable Driver Information Center screen, a six-inch head-up display projected onto the windshield, and tri-zone automatic climate control.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali

Finally, we come to the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models, which are full-size SUVs designed with a tremendous amount of interior space and gorgeous features throughout. Both of these models have two engines on offer for the Denali trim: a 6.2L V8 gas engine with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and a 3.0L Duramax turbo-diesel engine with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. You get a 10-speed automatic transmission with either engine, and the Yukon Denali models are available with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The difference between the two Yukon models comes down to size: the Yukon XL is larger overall with a longer wheelbase, allowing for greater interior room. Looking at the standard Yukon, it’s 210 inches in overall length, with 25.5 cu.ft. of rear cargo space. The Yukon XL is 225.2 inches in overall length and has 41.5 cu.ft. of rear cargo volume. Otherwise, both Denali models have similar features, such as a 10.2-inch premium infotainment system with Google built-in, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and a 14-speaker Bose Surround system with CenterPoint.

The Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali also come with a 15-inch multicolor head-up display and a power-sliding center console that moves backward 10 inches to reveal a secure storage space. You get a 12-inch Driver Information Center, a wireless charging pad, and much more. The Yukon Denali models ride on 20-inch polished aluminum wheels wrapped in all-season tires and have black assist steps to help you get in and out of this massive luxury vehicle.

A close up shows the grille on a black 2023 GMC Yukon Denali.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate

Taking things even further, the two Yukon models are also available in an exquisite new Denali Ultimate trim that builds on the great features of the base Denali trim. You get an 18-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system in the Denali Ultimate, along with dual 12.6-inch LCD HD screens mounted to the backs of the front seats to provide your rear passengers with a media system. The Denali Ultimate features a full-grain leather interior with 16-way power-adjustable driver and front-passenger seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel––all riding on 22-inch ultra-bright machined wheels with bright chrome accents wrapped in all-season tires.

Which GMC Denali SUV Is Right for You?

You can see that each of these Denali trims represents the pinnacle driving experience for the three SUVs offered by GMC. Choosing the right one comes down to deciding on the size of the vehicle you need––typically based on the number of passengers you want to bring along with you and how much room you require inside for loading up with stuff. Once you know how big you need your SUV to be, then it’s easy to choose between the Terrain, the Acadia, and the two Yukon options. All of the Denali trims will deliver an amazing combination of sophisticated comfort, rich luxury, and innovative technology for you to enjoy.