Masthead image featuring the 2017 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV driving on a mountainous road.
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MOUNTAIN OF A MILESTONE: MILLIONTH GMC DENALI SOLD

The Denali line reached a milestone in 2017 that’s been nearly twenty years – and a million vehicles – in the making.

February marked a bit of GMC history, as the one millionth GMC Denali vehicle was sold -- marking a milestone that’s been nearly twenty years in the making.

The Denali name first appeared in 1997, when GMC unveiled the Yukon Denali show vehicle. This one-off concept vehicle set the stage for the production Yukon Denali, which went on sale in late 1998, differed substantially from a conventional Yukon of the time.

A new front clip and unique body moldings lent the SUV a bold, strong, presence. A monochromatic paint treatment added an air of sophistication, while distinctive polished chrome wheels provided an eye-catching accent. Inside, the show vehicle not only offered premium leather-appointed seating, but also an early application of OnStar, along with a GPS navigation unit and hands-free cell phone integration.

The Denali name itself couldn’t have been any more symbolic of GMC’s goals. At 20,320 feet, Denali (or Mount McKinley) is the highest land point in North America. With the Yukon Denali, GMC set to rise above the standard of other trucks and SUVs on the North American market.

Graphic timeline showing the development of the GMC Denali trim over the past 20 years.

“The advent of the Yukon Denali signaled a big shift, both in the industry and for GMC itself,” says Rich Latek, marketing director for GMC. “At the time, sport utility vehicles primarily focused on providing versatility and utility above anything else. GMC had a long-standing reputation for building strong, dependable trucks and sport-utility vehicles, but we sensed an opportunity to create a premium-grade model that could resonate with customers on a whole new level.”

If the original goal was to broaden the GMC range by entering – or even creating -- the premium truck and SUV market, then Denali has certainly been a success. What originally started as a single model has since blossomed into an incredibly strong product line of its own. The Denali portfolio presently consists of three SUV models – including the upcoming all-new 2018 Terrain Denali (coming late summer 2017) – and three pickup offerings, including the new 2017 Canyon Denali and the updated 2017 Sierra Denali HD.

 

All told, Denali models accounted for just over 25 percent of all GMC retail sales in 2016. Collectively, GMC Denali models outsold entire product lines of some premium automakers in the United States, including Jaguar, Land Rover, and Porsche.

 

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  • Image of the 1997 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV.
  • Image of the launch of the Denali model at NAIAS
  • Image of the 1999 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV first production model.
  • Image of the 1999 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV first production model.
  • Image of the 2000 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV, part of the next generation Denali line.
  • Image of the 2000 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV, part of the next generation Denali line.
  • Image of the 2000 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV towing a boat.
  • Image of the grill on the first GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, made in 2002.
  • Image of the first GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, made in 2002, with mountain lake in the background.
  • Image of the first GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, made in 2002.
  • Image of the GMC Envoy Denali, introduced in 2005.
  • Image of the GMC HD models going into production in 2011 with gathered audience.
  • Image of the GMC Acadia Denali, introduced in 2011.
  • Image of the GMC Terrain Denali, introduced in 2011.
  • Image of the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate, introduced in 2016.
  • Image of the GMC Canyon Denali, introduced for 2017.
  • Image of the GMC Acadia Denali, re-imagined and released for 2018, which sets the new bar for future models to come.
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While much has changed the past two decades, key Denali attributes – namely bold, striking design, elevated refinement, and advanced connectivity features – not only remain in place in today’s Denali models, but are stronger than ever.

“Denali challenged everyone at GMC, from our designers, to our engineers, and even our dealers, to commit to a new level of discipline,” says Latek. “It requires us to commit to excellence; commit to perfecting every last detail from start to finish – but the result; the longevity and success of the Denali line, more than speaks for itself.”


Click to learn more about the Denali models and premium features offerred for GMC vehicles.
Click to learn more about the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali premium pickup truck.
Click to learn more about the 2017 GMC Yukon Denali full-size luxury SUV.