One of the most common GMC SUVs for sale, a blue 2024 GMC Acadia Denali, is shown parked off-road.

A Closer Look at the GMC Denali Trim

When you look at GMC SUVs for sale, you can’t help but notice the Denali trims. Denali models have high-class finishes and details. You may try to shy away from them due to the higher price tag; after all, you don’t want to fall in love with a vehicle that is out of your budget. But if you’re like so many of us, you can’t help but want to take a closer look or maybe even a test drive.

If a GMC Denali is on your bucket list, you’re just interested in the finer things in life, or are one of the lucky few who plan to purchase a Denali this year, keep reading. We’re going to break down the history of the Denali as well as take a closer look at features you’ll find on new 2024 Denali vehicles like the GMC Yukon, Terrain, and Acadia.

The Denali Nameplate Made a Splash in 1999

Denali is a word that is derived from the native Alaskan Athabaskans’/Koyukon’s name for North America’s tallest mountain. It’s a high-end (get it) vehicle that is a symbol of luxury to many. It’s been around for almost a quarter of a century at this point, having been teased to the market as a concept vehicle in 1997.

The Denali trim was first officially welcomed to the automobile industry way back in 1999. It’s hard to remember a time before the iconic Denali, but so it was. The nameplate was first attached to the GMC Yukon, which let GMC enter the luxury SUV market for the first time. GMC wanted to be able to compete with the Lincoln Navigator, which, at the time, was a hot new item on the market. The turn of the century really marked the move toward bigger vehicles in general, and since then, SUVs have had a hay day.

The Denali trim was different from its predecessors in the GMC lineup because it added Nuance leather appointments inside the SUV, included a state-of-the-art sound system by Bose that featured seven speakers, and even added heated seats both in the front for drivers and the rear for passengers. Better and more eye-catching wheels were added, as well as upgrades to the front fascia and body panels.

Growth in the Market and Huge Popularity

The market loved the initial GMC Yukon featuring the Denali trim that was introduced in 1999. By 2001, GMC decided to give this SUV a facelift to keep the enthusiasm going, as well as offering another option called the XL Denali. The XL Denali, as you might have intuited, is an extended-length version of the regular Yukon, offering passengers more room and seating. The memorable honeycomb pattern grille we think of on Denali trims was also introduced around this time and became a hallmark of the brand. GMC went with a new angular design as well, which expressed a bold and modern appearance to appeal to the high-end market.

With the growing popularity of the Yukon Denali, GMC decided to diversify and add this luxury new trim to the Sierra. This would mark the first time the Denali trim was featured on a truck, something many thought was counterintuitive for a working vehicle. GMC saw a need, though, and standard features like a 325 hp 6.0 L V8 engine, all-wheel-drive, and a four-wheel steering system were added to the Sierra to keep power in the focal point. In 2007, both the Yukon Denali and Sierra Denali would get redesigned with a powerful 6.2L V8 engine; GMC wasn’t messing around!

GMC continues to introduce more of their vehicles to the Denali name. In 2011 the Acadia was added, followed by the Terrain in 2013 and the Canyon in 2017. Feature enhancements kept growing, with GMC adding things like real aluminum trim, special seat designs, and an excellent noise cancellation system to help riders disconnect from the outside world and enjoy the luxurious appointments in the Denali without distractions. Denali became more than just a trim level for GMC, it became its own brand and has become recognized in the market as almost a standalone vehicle.

A close-up on the grille of a black 2023 GMC Yukon Denali is shown.

Modern Denali Trims

The Yukon is still the vehicle that most people associate with the Denali trim. As such, it’s no surprise that the 2024 GMC Yukon Denali has made a splash on the market. This year’s SUV has a truly commanding presence and is a leader in full-size SUVs for both luxury, space, and power. People with larger families love this SUV because of its flexible seating and cargo space, but also because of its endless comfort for road trips and shepherding kids to and from school and activities. When you see a modern Yukon Denali on the street, we know it’s going to turn your head.

Advanced Technology in the Denali

It’s a new world where automation and AI are everywhere. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about your Denali vehicle growing a mind of its own, but it is certainly going to leverage technology to make your driving experience better. As such, GMC has added the very latest in hands-free driving technology, known as Super Cruise, to some of their Denali models.

On compatible roads, Super Cruise allows drivers to let go of the steering wheel so that they can sit back and watch the road at ease. This is great for long road trips where you might get a cramp and need to adjust positions. GPS and LiDAR map the road and help to detect curves in combination with real-time cameras and sensors that view the lines on compatible roads. Other vehicles and obstacles are seen by these cameras and sensors, too, to help avoid a collision.

You can opt for Super Cruise on the Hummer EV Pickup, Sierra 1500 Denali, and Denali Ultimate, as well as the Yukon Denali and Denali Ultimate. It’s worth noting that while the Hummer EV Pickup has available Super Cruise, it is not yet offered in the Denali trim.

Premium Design

GMC has crafted every feature in their Denali models with precision, detail, and the finest materials. Each modern model features different unique features, which makes sense because you don’t need the same things in a truck like the Sierra as you do in an SUV like the Acadia. Across all Denali vehicles, however, you’ll find GMC spared no expense.

Outside you’ll find high-end features like detailed front grilles, eye-catching features, and well-moulded bodies. Inside you’ll find some refined touches like premium instrument panels, perforated leather seats with high-contrast stitching, 10 or 16-way power-adjustable seating with lumbar support, leather-wrapped heated steering wheels, large information and infotainment screens, and much more.

A black 2023 GMC Terrain Denali is shown driving.

A Timeless Classic

After being on the market a quarter of a century, the Denali trims maintain their spot as high-end options for SUVs and trucks. They set the standard many of us expect from a luxury model and are vehicles we all would love to drive someday. From the Yukon Denali to the modern Denali Sierra 1500, there is truly an option for every driver. I’ll admit, you cannot go wrong If you’re on your path to acquire a Denali, we understand exactly what drives you.