What do you do when you need something big, something cool, and something you can cart a digital crew around in for nearly 12 hours? You opt for the GMC Yukon…[Not a valid template]
It’s not often that our digital crew for a photo/video shoot spans to six. Logistically this always causes issues: how for instance can we stuff five of the team into one of our long-term mid-size saloons whilst still leaving room for vital necessities like rigs, tripods, camera bodies and lenses, sliders, flashes, Red Bull and water, firewood, and screen wash. We’ll come back to that later though…
Obviously we weren’t, despite the chaps’ best contortionist efforts. Even if by some miracle we managed to fold three of the team onto the back seat, sliding out of the window for those all-important motion shots would create a whole new headache: how for instance do you squeeze through a narrow sloping rear window without scuffing elbows, tearing shirt-sleeves and swearing uncontrollably whilst holding a camera? Even if you somehow could, the resultant red mist means any and all shots taken would be out of focus.
Long story short, the crankandpiston.com team needed another vehicle. Something cool. Something practical. Something that could seat five or six in comfort whilst still leaving room for equipment, and – given the ambitious nature of our shoot and the amount of time dedicated to it – offer a ride comfort that would not rupture spleens or herniate discs. We needed something big. REALLY big. We needed a GMC Yukon.
A simple glance at the tech specs emphasises just how practical the Yukon is going to be, measuring as it does at 6.5ft wide, 6ft tall and nearly 17ft long. But it’s not until we stand next to the behemoth that we realise just how big it actually is. Even I, at the generous end of six-feet tall, find myself bathing in the Yukon’s shadow. Folding all of our equipment, personnel and creative imaginations into GMC’S flagship SUV would be a doddle, as would storing everything inside: during the opening ten minutes of our journey, we lose count how many storage bins and door pockets we have at our disposal. Thanks also to the Denali’s rear hatch and Lift Support tailgate, crawling out the windows for motion shots were immaterial.
Practicality then is set, and not just for the sheer space available. True, at 2946mm long, the wheelbase of our Denali test model is longer than its predecessor, offering more legroom for the chaps taking up recumbent position on the third row seating. With the Denali name also comes an added sense of refinement, and as the kilometres en-route to our shoot location in the Fujairah mountains tick by, the chaps furrow ever further into their leather seats, taking great comfort in the infotainment system, front and rear climate control controls, and fold-down TV screen. It’s with slightly crossed eyes that each dismounts after our near two-hour journey: doing some actual ‘work’ is begrudgingly agreed.
So, boxes emphatically ticked for practicality and comfort, but this is not the be-all and end all for today’s Yukon camera car: leather upholstery, wood trim and Frozen DVDs are all well and good, but if the engine powering our 2515kg beast boasts the same grunt as a toaster, we can dramatically air-kiss motion shots and a third of our photoshoot/video goodbye. Fortunately, the Yukon has that covered too courtesy of the all new EcoTec3 6.2-litre V8, exclusive to the Denali model. Producing 420hp and 624Nm of pretty immediate torque, the Denali Yukon boasts segment-leading levels of power and a brand new four-wheel drive system (as opposed to the previous generation’s all-wheel drive configuration) so camera car chase sequences shouldn’t be an issue. The only potential issue could be manoeuvrability: rarely does a 17-ft long SUV move with the grace of Margot Fonteyn. Were it not for the quite superb electric steering – which takes most of the heavy lifting out of the steering, thus allowing the Denali Yukon to turn on a dime – the driver’s shoulders would be given a serious kicking.
The V8’s ‘EcoTec3’ moniker is much more than just a corporate bolt on for the green enthusiasts too. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology (including cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system, more precisely controlled combustion allows the EcoTec3 V8 to produce power more efficiently without affecting the fuel economy. Impressive, especially considering the 500km+ fuel range already on offer from the massive 22-gallon tank. Emergency jerry cans can only sit by and collect dust, untouched.
I’ve left the most obvious element till last, since our behind the scenes shots ably demonstrate the looks and presence of the Denali Yukon is difficult to ignore. From a build perspective, the Yukon shares much with its sister Chevrolet Tahoe, but the enormous front grille and carved headlights provide a surprisingly elegant – and beefy – look for this large SUV, a step away from the all-pointed, all-shouty exterior of Cadillac’s Escalade. As the hours of our shoot rolled by, we can’t help but notice the sunrays bouncing off those rather natty 20-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels. Hands down though, the automatically extending running boards that give occupants easy access into the vehicle are hands down our favourite: close the doors, wait a second or two, and the runner folds back underneath the door sills. Simple (albeit presumably hideously technical) and effective. And winning.
Talking shop is difficult to avoid, especially when you’re slightly dehydrated after nearly eight hours in 45-degree temperatures. Amidst the “how many shots left?”, “anybody got any water?” and “who’s Subway is this?” came the question, “how much is the Yukon?” A pertinent question rather than a clumsily placed segue, since several of the guys are in the market for something spacious and safe to kart extending families around. And at just over $47,000, it left several of the guys scratching the heads.
Though granted, some of them were still wondering which storage bin they’d left their wallet in.