2017 GMC Canyon DenaliEnlarge Photo
Nearly 20 years after General Motors' truck brand slapped chrome wheels and fancy leather on its big Yukon SUV and called it the Yukon Denali, the profits continue to roll in.
Today, a quarter of all GMCs sold are badged as Denalis, something noteworthy not only because the package isn't much more than a chrome grille on most models but also because it means that 25 percent of all vehicles the brand sells are top-of-the-line models. The Denali package is now offered as an extra cost option on everything in the company's lineup—from the Canyon mid-size pickup and the Acadia family-oriented crossover all the way up to the hauling-oriented Sierra HD pickups. All told, it's possible—and quite likely, as GMC told us—that shoppers will head home from the dealership after dropping over $70,000 on a Denali-badged vehicle.
It's all part of what has given GMC the highest transaction price of any non-luxury brand in the industry. If GMC was an automaker independent of GM, its revenues would put it at number 150 on the Fortune 500.
2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HDEnlarge Photo
Within the GMC lineup, Denali has become something of a brand on its own. That makes it somewhat comparable to, say, Mercedes-Benz's AMG unit or Toyota's TRD division. Except that at GMC, Denali is just a package with a few more luxuries instead of a completely reworked vehicle with upgraded performance.
And it is working very well for GMC.
A look at the numbers
Let's start at the top, where the Denali brand is most successful. Almost three out of every four Yukon SUVs sold in dealers today is badged as a Denali. While it's possible for shoppers to take home a $50,000 Yukon SLE, 75 percent of all deliveries to consumers are Yukon Denalis priced at $65,000 and above.
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A full 50 percent of all Sierra HDs are Denalis, with the least expensive version running around $60,000 and a loaded model topping out at nearly $75,000.
The success story isn't quite as prominent lower in the company's lineup, where around 10-12 percent of all Terrains have the package. But that's still quite a large number considering how much more price sensitive buyers are when they're shopping for compact and mid-size crossovers.
In an industry where options often determine how profitable a vehicle is, GMC's Denali packages are popular with buyers and that means continued success for the brand.