2018 GMC Yukon Denali Gets 10-Speed Auto, Minor Cosmetic Updates
GMC is updating its range-topping Yukon Denali with a new transmission, the 10-speed automatic shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe RST.
Dubbed Hydra-Matic, the 10-speed auto comes mated exclusively to the 6.2L V-8 that comes standard in the Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali. Its 7.39 gear ratio spread is wider than that of the eight-speed automatic it replaces, allowing engineers to give the GMC a numerically lower top gear ratio for better fuel economy without losing performance. The transmission is likely identical to the GM 10L80 destined for the upcoming Chevrolet Tahoe RST Performance Package, although the Denali version might have some tuning differences befitting its luxury-minded mission.
In addition to the 10-speed, the 2018 Yukon Denali lineup will receive a few cosmetic enhancements to keep the lineup fresh in the minds of SUV buyers. The chrome-heavy Denali grille has been redesigned with a more technical, layered texture, bringing it into line with GMC’s other Denali models, the Sierra, Acadia, and Terrain. However, the change isn’t just skin-deep, as it also allows better airflow to the cooling system, while active aero shutters behind the grille close in certain conditions to reduce drag and enhance efficiency.
Speaking of efficiency, we expect the Denali to improve in that metric for 2018. Thanks to the transmission and aero enhancements, we estimate the 2018 Yukon Denali 2WD to hit 16 city/23 highway mpg, with numbers dropping by 1 mpg for 4WD variants. Expect the Yukon XL Denali to achieve 15 city/23 highway mpg for the 2WD and 15/22 for the 4WD.
Also, for those who are keeping score, the GMC Yukon XL Denali is the only way to get a 10-speed automatic transmission in a GM extended-length SUV, at least for now. We expect the gearbox, which was jointly developed by Ford, to expand to the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV soon. The same gearbox is also found in the Ford Expedition, Ford Expedition Max, Lincoln Navigator, and Lincoln Navigator L, if your big-SUV tastes skew toward the Blue Oval.
The 2018 Yukon Denali and Yukon XL Denali will hit GMC dealers this fall, with pricing to be determined. The Denali accounts for more than half of total Yukon sales, and with newfound performance and efficiency, don’t expect that number to drop for 2018.