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GMC Denali History

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2020 GMC Sierra Denali HD
Photo: The News Wheel

GMC vehicles are known for their toughness, performance capabilities, and high-end features. But if you need a more luxurious experience from your next truck or SUV, chances are you’ve looked into the GMC Denali lineup. What is Denali and how did it get its start?

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The first Denali

GMC first used the Denali moniker on the top trim of the Yukon in 1999 as an attempt to steal buyers away from the new Lincoln Navigator. Compared to the regular Yukon, the Denali version had upgraded wheels, a Nuance leather interior, front and rear heated seats, and a Bose seven-speaker audio system. The very first Yukon Denali debuted around the same time as the Cadillac Escalade, and the two vehicles looked very similar.

The first-gen Yukon Denali was not redesigned until a year after the regular Yukon’s redesign in 2000. Upon its redesign, the 2001 Yukon Denali debuted a honeycomb grille, which eventually made its way onto other Denali models to better distinguish them.

The second model to join the Denali family was the GMC Sierra in 2002. This was followed by the Acadia in 2011, the Terrain in 2013, and the Canyon in 2016.

Denali today

The decision to create a Denali sub-brand was a smart one for GMC. In the fourth quarter of 2018, more than 70 percent of Sierra models delivered were high-end models, including Denali and AT4.  

Denali models boast premium features such as added noise cancellation, real aluminum trim, aluminum wheels, chrome accents, and unique seat trims and stitching details. That signature honeycomb grille still adorns the front of each Denali model, so you know at a glance what you’re looking at.

GMC has found a winning formula in the Denali line, and it’s safe to say the luxurious truck and SUV lineup isn’t going anywhere.

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