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GMC Concept Showcases GM Design Capabilities

February 3rd, 2008

GM Holden’s global design capability was showcased today on the world stage when GMC took the covers off a stunning concept vehicle at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.

The GMC Denali XT was designed and constructed at GM Holden’s design centre in Port Melbourne, Victoria. GMC drew upon General Motors’ global resources and expertise in Australia to produce the show stopper.

Lead Designer, Warrack Leach - who also recently led the VE Ute design - created the Denali XT’s new, muscular form in a performance-styled, hybrid sport-utility truck (SUT).

“This was a great program to work on as I was given the opportunity to really stretch the limits of the Global Rear Wheel Drive architecture and create a truck with unique and bold proportions,” Leach said.

“GMC has such a rich heritage of producing great trucks and it was essential we kept that in mind while at the same time exploring how far we could take this concept.”

The Denali XT has a unibody architecture and rear-wheel drive which enables its distinctive design and efficient performance.

Denali XT’s new, more efficient 4.9L version of GM’s small-block V8 features fuel-saving technologies such as direct-injection technology, Active Fuel Management and includes the first combination of GM’s two-mode hybrid system with an E85 ethanol-capable engine.

The engine is matched with GM’s unique two-mode hybrid propulsion system, giving the powerful SUT exceptional fuel economy and uncompromising capability – including all-electric drive at low speeds.

The Denali XT boasts an estimated 50-percent fuel economy improvement over comparable small pickup trucks when running on petrol.

Jim Bunnell, GMC General Manager, said although just a concept, the Denali XT was perfectly suited to a variety of active lifestyle activities, such as hauling skis and snowboards to the mountain or towing a sport jet boat to the lake.

“Like all GMCs, the Denali XT is functional and capable, but it blends those traits with a more efficient, sporty driving experience,” said Bunnell.

“It is a vehicle that exemplifies GMC’s engineering excellence, as well as GM’s commitment to hybrid and advanced technologies.”

True to its GMC Professional Grade heritage, the Denali XT is filled with technologies and features that maximize its flexibility, including a cargo space-enhancing Midgate® and height-adjustable suspension.

The Denali XT’s carefully design proportions are framed around a high cowl configuration that enhances the vehicle’s truck functionality, but packages it in an efficient, unibody architecture that enhances fuel economy while giving the vehicle a sporty driving experience.


The Denali XT features a muscular form and wide, firmly planted stance giving the vehicle a confidently capable road presence. Minimal overhangs, huge 23 inch wheels, custom Kumho tyres, sleek headlamps and a low roof profile deliver an aggressive, performance-oriented appearance.

The Denali XT’s design includes a new take on GMC’s iconic grille, with a prominent, four-bar element in addition to the large, red GMC logo and signature Denali background.

The wide road stance is accentuated by flared fenders and enhanced further when the Denali XT is lowered on its air-adjustable suspension, creating a sleeker appearance that simultaneously improves aerodynamics.

Ed Welburn, Vice President GM Global Design, describes the concept as a robust yet tailored design statement that is unlike anything else on the road.

“It has the youthful look of a custom automobile that incorporates the capability customers expect from a truck,” Welburn said.

The exterior colour "Battle" is described by GM Holden’s colour and trim team as a cool mid tone liquid gunmetal which is balanced against the polished aluminium details.


Warrack Leach, Lead Designer, says inside the Denali XT blends mechanical functionality with leather-trimmed comfort.

“Billet-metal surrounds, controls and instruments convey the cold precision of an aircraft cockpit. This is balanced by the warmth of bespoke saddle-leather trimmed seats and other contact surfaces,” Leach says.

“The form language is smooth and structured to characterize GMC’s power. The details have a deliberately contrasting mechanical aesthetic to mark GMC’s engineering sophistication.”

A feeling of luxury is created with soft grey microsuede finishes while keeping the integrity of a functional product with the hard saddle, workboot brown leather.

The interior features innovative instrumentation with “floating” red-illuminated numerals backed by surface chaplets in the clusters and a large integrated vehicle interface screen.

The Denali XT seats four comfortably as the high-cowl vehicle architecture enables higher seating positions, allowing the distance between front and rear occupants to be reduced without compromising knee room. This packaging efficiency creates generous interior and cargo bed dimensions within a more compact package.

Truck capability

With stiffness that is greater than most conventional, body-on-frame trucks, the Denali XT’s unibody structure supports a very capable truck platform. It also serves as the mounting point for a four-wheel independent suspension that gives the vehicle its performance feel on the road. In short, it’s a truck that hauls more than cargo on twisting roads.

The rear cargo area is wide, deep and flat, with no suspension or wheelhouse protrusions with dimensions that create the space to haul a wide variety of lifestyle accessories.

Functionality is enhanced with an easy-to-operate Midgate that can be lowered to extend the cargo-carrying capacity inside the vehicle.

The Denali XT has an estimated payload capacity of 499kg and a towing capacity of an estimated 1,587kg. This capability is delivered through unique vehicle and powertrain integration.

New 4.9L SIDI V-8 and two-mode hybrid system

For the first time, GM’s rear-wheel-drive two-mode hybrid transmission is paired with a smaller-displacement version of the small-block engine. The new V8 4.9L E85-capable engine powers the Denali XT with an estimated 243kW. It uses direct-injection technology to produce the power of a larger engine, but consumes less fuel and produces lower emissions.

The functionality of GM’s Active Fuel Management system has been expanded through the use of hybrid technologies, enhancing the cylinder-deactivating feature to further improve fuel efficiency.

The Denali XT’s two-mode hybrid system uses an electrically variable transmission to enhance fuel efficiency in city and highway driving. In city driving, all-electric propulsion is used at low speeds; on the highway, fixed-gear operation enables efficient performance even when towing a trailer.

The GMC Denali XT concept will be on show at the Chicago Motor Show from 6 – 17 February 2008.


  • Body style / driveline: four-door, four-seat; rear-wheel drive sport-utility truck
  • Construction: body-frame integral
  • Engine type: 4.9L SIDI V-8 with Active Fuel Management
  • Horsepower (hp / kW): 326 / 243 (est)
  • Fuel type: unleaded regular or E85 ethanol
  • Transmission: two-mode hybrid
  • Suspension: front: independent SLA; rear: independent SLA
  • Brakes: four-wheel disc
  • Wheel size & type: 23-inch aluminium; split 5-spoke
  • Tires: front: Kumho 255/35/R23 rear: Kumho 285/35/R23
  • Wheelbase (in / mm): 125.4 / 3134
  • Overall length: 205 / 5207
  • Overall width (in / mm): 76.3 / 1938
  • Overall height (in / mm): 62.5 / 1587
  • Track (in / mm): 65 / 1651
  • Cargo floor length (in / mm):55 / 1397
  • Cargo floor width (in / mm):47.5 / 1206
  • Payload (lb / kg): 1100 / 499 (est)
  • Towing capacity (lb / kg):3500 / 1587 (est)

Note: Information shown is current at time of publication.

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