For 2006, both the GMC Yukon and the Yukon Denali receive improved emission performance, and OnStar and satellite radio antennae are combined into a single unit. On the Yukon, a 5.3-litre flexible-fuel V8 is available on the XL 1500; a tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all three-quarter-ton models; power-adjustable pedals are optional on all equipment groups; and there are power-adjustable, heated, manual-folding and extending outside rearview camper-style mirrors available.

The Yukon is available in two sizes, the regular-wheelbase and the long-wheelbase XL, in half (1500) or three-quarter-ton (2500) sizes, and in two- or four-wheel-drive. The more luxurious Yukon Denali also comes in both wheelbase sizes, but in all-wheel-drive only. The models also show up at Chevrolet as the Tahoe and Suburban.

Four engines are available on the Yukon, all of them V8s: 4.8-, 5.3-, 6.0- and 8.1-litre. The Denali uses the 6.0-litre exclusively, but while it shares the engine, its powertrain setup is not shared with the Yukon; it includes a Denali-specific transmission with tow/haul mode, a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio and electronic, automatic all-wheel-drive. All models use a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission.

The Yukon is available in two trim lines. The SLE comes with fog lights, heated power mirrors, roof rack side rails, 16-inch aluminum wheels, variable intermittent wipers, tri-zone manual climate control, programmable power locks, leather-wrapped wheel with auto controls, power windows, 40/20/40 split-bench front seat with six-way power driver’s adjuster, cloth interior, 60/40 folding second row bench, CD/cassette player, and OnStar.

The SLT adds power foldaway mirrors with puddle lights, integrated turn signals and driver’s side auto-dimming, 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic climate control, HomeLink garage door opener, cargo net and cover, roof rack cross bars, power-adjustable pedals, leather interior, ten-way power adjustable front seats with driver’s side memory, Bose six-CD premium stereo and second-row audio controls with headphone jacks.

The Denali adds AutoRide control with automatic damping and self-levelling rear air suspension, heavy-duty trailer tow package including heavy-duty oil cooler, colour-keyed running boards, 17-inch polished aluminum wheels, automatic tri-zone climate control and wood accent trim. It’s also available from the factory with 20-inch wheels, an option package which lowers the suspension 20 mm for enhanced styling.

The Yukon and its upscale brother Denali are surprising vehicles: they look big, heavy and rough, but they’re actually very easy to drive, and with a level of luxury that can rival the Cadillac Escalade but with a smaller price-tag – especially since the top-of-the-line Denali XL has dropped $3,270 over 2005. Its big-truck fuel mileage isn’t exactly pleasant in these days of rising gas prices, but if you want to tow your trailer in comfort, this is definitely the way to do it.

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