However, the second (and probably more important) consequence of using a unibody chassis--the four-wheel independent suspension with its lower center of gravity and quick, responsive capability--will have one of the most performance-oriented driving feels of just about anything on the road. Up front, the multilink suspension features a forward-mounted steering rack and dual lower links with ball joints, providing sharp responses to driver input. At the rear, a four-link design uses coilover shocks and a decoupled stabilizer bar to enhance cornering control and reduce body roll. In short, it's a truck wanting to be a sport sedan.

The rear cargo area is wide, deep, and flat, with no suspension or wheelhouse protrusions into the bedbox. The Denali XT utilizes a midgate (just like the Avalanche, Cadillac EXT, and Hummer H2 SUT) that can be lowered over the rear seats to extend the cargo-carrying capacity from inside the vehicle into the bed. The rear seats fold flat to provide a longer floor for carrying items such as skis, surfboards, or wood from the home-improvement store. A fixed rear window allowed engineers to retain the vehicle's structure, reducing mass and complexity.

The Denali XT has an estimated payload and towing capacity of 1100 and 3500 pounds, respectively. Those numbers are certainly tolerable when compared with those of other compact pickup trucks, but fall short of the capabilities of midsize trucks or other SUTs.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the Denali XT, beyond the fact that it's the wildest SUT we've ever seen, is that its new rear-drive two-mode hybrid transmission is paired with a smaller-displacement version of GM's small-block engine. The new 4.9-liter, E85-capable V-8 powers the Denali XT with an estimated 326 horses. Plus, it uses direct-injection technology to produce the power of a larger engine, but consumes less fuel and produces lower emissions than a comparably sized powertrain. Also, the functionality of GM's Active Fuel Management system has been expanded through the use of hybrid technologies, enhancing the cylinder-deactivating feature to further improve fuel efficiency. Additional powertrain technologies have been integrated as well, including Active Thermal Management, which transfers thermal energy from one driveline component to another to improve efficiency, and a high-efficiency axle configuration, which fundamentally reduces the losses normally associated with conventional axle configurations.

Like the Tahoe, Sierra, and Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid systems, the Denali XT's two-mode hybrid system is partnered with a V-8 engine (in this case, a 4.9-liter), using an electrically variable transmission for better city and highway fuel economy. In city driving, all-electric propulsion is used at low speed up to 30 mph, with the dual-mode, two-motor electric variable transmission working at highway speeds. A set of four fixed gears can be used when towing or carrying heavy loads.