2008 GMC Denali XT Concept

David Gluckman
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GMC has packed a lot into their Denali XT concept, giving us hints at what's next for the brand. The truck showcases a new take on car-based trucks, a possible future GMC styling direction, and a next-generation powertrain.

The Denali XT is a rear-wheel-drive sport utility truck (SUT) that rides on a unibody chassis - or what the Australians call a ute. Why bring up the folks from Oz when discussing a new GMC concept? It was Holden - GM's Australian arm - that designed the Denali XT for us Americans. They did a good job on the Camaro, why not let them make our trucks, too?

Australian or not, car-based trucks are nothing new for the U.S. El Caminos and Rancheros were sold for about two decades last century, and there's even Honda's Ridgeline - a truck loosely based on the Accord. What sets the Denali XT apart is its size; it's similar in length and wheelbase to a GMC Canyon crew cab, though wider and lower to the ground. The Denali XT only sends power to the rear wheels unlike the front- or all-wheel-drive Ridgeline.

With its flared fenders and high beltline the Denali XT has a decidedly muscular stance. In pictures, it looks bigger than it is, something we'll have a better idea of once we see it for real on the floor at the 2008 Chicago show. The grille gets a familiar treatment to the other Denali-trim versions of the Envoy, Yukon, and Sierra. The Denali XT's 23-inch wheels (known as Jordans to the street-credible in our office) are pushed to the corners and are attached via a height-adjustable air suspension.

As with most recent concepts, the Denali XT goes alternative in the powertrain department. It uses a version of GM's Two-Mode hybrid system, but for the first time couples it with a 4.9-liter small-block V-8 that's E85 ethanol-ready. The engine employs direct injection to get a power rating of 326 hp, as well as cylinder deactivation to save fuel. Like the other Two-Mode hybrids, the Denali XT can run electric-only at low speeds.

GMC has thrown all of its ideas at one concept and it seems to have worked. We expect much of what we see here to make it to production vehicles in the near future.

Click the link below for high-resolution Denali XT images.

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