The Road to SHOT Show: Seeing America from the Seat of a GMC Yukon Denali


My first trip across the United States involved the purchase of a vintage car. I’d been looking for a Mustang convertible and found one in Las Vegas. After some negotiation, I purchased a one-way ticket to Vegas, bought the car, and drove it home. Within the first 100 miles, I realized I should have gotten a room and had my wife fly out so we could enjoy the trip together. I’ve since traversed this country at least a half-dozen times, and I’ve marveled at something new every time.

This year, at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s annual conference, I test-drove a 2014 GMC pickup. I happen to be a fan of Chevy trucks, having owned a series of them, the earliest being a 1973 Super Cheyenne. They have been wonderful and reliable trucks, my current version now going strong and quiet at 240,000 miles. I mentioned my love of Chevy trucks during the test ride and Fred Ligouri asked if I’d like to try a GMC for an extended test. My offer to try one for a couple of years was quickly declined but he did offer as much as a two-week trial. I instantly thought of a cross-country trip to SHOT Show, we worked out the details, and I’m writing this from the road across America.

SHOT Show is the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual trade show and is a monumental display of everything that relates to shooting and hunting. There are 1,600 exhibitors from over 100 countries and all 50 states. There are 12.5 miles of aisles and if you spend just 23 seconds at each booth, you can’t see all the exhibits. SHOT Show is the definitive show for seeing and touching everything shooting sports has to offer in one location over four days.

We’re driving a 2014 Yukon XL Denali and I have to say this is undoubtedly the best SUV I’ve ever driven. The XL Denali features a Vortec 6.2-liter engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Autoride real-time suspension damping system adds to its muscle car feel, providing a luxury car ride that adapts to driving conditions and produces a comfortable ride. It’s true this is an SUV, but with 403 horsepower, there’s enough power to move this thing like it’s a much lighter vehicle.

Other features include touch-screen navigation, Blue Tooth connectivity, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a backup safety camera. One of the most impressive was the Ultrasonic rear parking assist. When the vehicle is in reverse, sensors mounted in the bumper emit audible warning tones, alerting you to potential hazards behind you. As you move closer to the obstacle, the tones sound closer together.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to drive across America just for SHOT Show. Our wonderful United States has far too much to offer for shooters and hunters, so my wife Cherie and I plan to take advantage of the trip and sample some of what America has to offer. We think the Denali is going to be the perfect vehicle for the trip. Watch for more posts about how our trip goes and a complete review on one of the best SUVs America has to offer.

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