It sounded like a good assignment. The travel editor handed me a list of places in Galveston, Texas to visit. “Also since your wife is the travel writer, let her do the travel writing and you stick to cars. Take a whole week,” she concluded.
I called the fleet manager and asked for a nice, technologically advanced vehicle with great cargo space and an abundance of passenger room, cargo space and comfortable for up to five hours behind the wheel. They sent me the GMC Yukon XL Denali for the 700 mile trip. Yukon provided the perfect setting for a wonderful week of “work” along the coast.
The Yukon XL Denali is powered by a 6.2 L EcoTec3 V8 with Active Fuel Management, coupled to an 8-speed auto transmission. This big engine delivers 420 hp at 5,600 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm. This big fella has a trailer towing capacity of 7,900 pounds with 121.1 cu ft of maximum cargo space. Standard equipment for towing includes towing sway control, DuraLife brake rotors, automatic load level and trailer brake control, and trailering equipment.
The EPA fuel economy rating is 14 mpg city and 20 mpg hwy. The fuel tank holds 31 gallons.
Highway 45 runs south from Dallas through Houston to the crown jewel of the Texas Coast Galveston. The drive down to the island was quiet and comfortable despite road construction and heavy traffic through Houston.
New inlaid doors reduced wind noise and improved aerodynamics. The laminated windshield and front door glass enhanced quietness as well. Triple door seals and engine barriers help establish this quiet uncluttered profile.
Redesigned liftgate spoiler reduces wind drag for enhanced efficiency while hiding the wipers when not in use. The power liftgate features hands-free open with programmable height.
The side mirrors have been newly sculpted to reduce air resistance. Artistic bold drive lines glide from the three dimension grille over the inlaid doors to smooth air flow.
The best outside feature for me was the optional illuminated power-retractable assist-steps that automatically extend when the front or second row doors are open for easier entry, then retract when the doors close for an uncluttered profile. The assist steps give you a solid and smooth surface to stand on before setting foot on rough and unstable surfaces like stones and gravel.
The Denali came with Customizable Driver Display for the instrument cluster. This 8-inch display allows the driver to control how information is presented, and has a quick access menu for audio, phone, and navigation functions.
The center console has another 8-inch touch display which houses the infotainment and nav systems with voice command support.
The CDD, wheel-mounted controls, center console touch screen, plus numerous buttons and dials place all info and controls at the driver’s fingertip.
Yukon XL seats up to eight. With available power fold-down rear seats, the push of a button lowers second and third row for a flat cargo area.
Tri-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, and power tilt and telescopic steering column provided additional comfort and pampering.
The perforated, heated and cooled leather front seats were fine and firm but not too tight, and never hindered the dismount. There was additional storage space in the doors for beverages, but the seat was so close to the door it was difficult to retrieve; especially so for 12 ounce cans and small cups.
Absolutely every kind of safety device known to man appeared to be standard in the Yukon Denali. That’s over a dozen features including Lane Change Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Vision Camera, and Side Blind Zone Alert. If there is a needed safety feature, Yukon had it.
The LX Denali is a big vehicle. Sometimes it is more like captaining a boat than driving a car. It is not made for small urban streets or narrow parking slots. It requires room for turning. In fact, when you turn, you get the feeling the vehicle is growing in length.
Driving the Yukon was fun and relaxing. I must confess to feeling a little prideful when we pulled into the Gaido’s Restaurant near the gulf beach and noticed the admiring glances from other patrons through the dining room windows. Plus the “thumbs up,” and “Okay” signs from bikers and joggers running along the beach.
We didn’t get to stay long at The Pleasure Pier, but next time we come to the coast, we plan to linger to enjoy this wonderful entertainment venue with its carnival rides and festive foods and happy atmosphere. At night the beautiful lights from the rides and pier gave the whole Sea Wall area a festive mood, awash in the aroma of exciting adventures.
We drove down Sea Wall Boulevard on our last night in Galveston, enjoying the quiet ride and entertainment amenities, while feeling the power of the engine and aura of the vast Gulf.
But we’ll be back to Galveston soon, looking forward to the salty air, friendly locals, and another huge bowl of gumbo from the Black Pearl restaurant located near the Strand.
Starting price: $70,220 with 4WD.
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or email@example.com