At Pontiac-GMC Division, the question is: "How high is up?"

Relative to GMC's Yukon Denali futuristic sport utility vehicle, it is 20,320 feet.

That is the height of the Alaskan mountain that Native Americans call Denali, and the peak for which GMC named its new show sport utility vehicle.

Denali, which means "the high one," is known in the lower 48 as Mount McKinley. It serves as a brand name that GMC envisions as the pinnacle of the sport-utility experience.

High also equivocates with luxury in GMC's scheme of things. When the division talks about sport utes associated with the Denali name, they are talking about premium styling and features in a full-sized sport utility that is above anything else in its class.

Like the bold appearance of the mountain, the bold frontal appearance of the Yukon Denali features a rectangular center port grille and functional bumper with a drop-down center area.

As a working vehicle, not just a show vehicle, two front tow hooks are recessed into the front fascia. The clean lines are further preserved by recessed lamps and an integrated license plate holder.

The side stance is divided by a mid-door belt line that connects with front and rear fender flares. The wider wheel flares provide ample room for oversized tires designed for hazardous terrain use. The standard tires are Firestone P275/75R16 touring tires with a custom-cut tread design.

The rear view presents a functional bumper with integrated trailer hitch, distinctive taillights, and Yukon/GMC badging. Textured body-color door handles, color-keyed rails on the luggage rack, and outside rear view mirrors complete the styling integration.

It wouldn't be a show vehicle without some flamboyant styling.

There are gold-accented wheels and a grille aperture that aptly portrays elegance. The upscale grille features ruby red GMC badging with gold underlay. The rear door identifies the vehicle with gold Yukon Denali badging. The polished aluminum 16-inch-by-8-inch wheels are gold-accented.

It all doesn't quite add up to a "solid-gold Yukon Denali," but it comes close.

All these fancy touches aside, the first thing any true off-roader is going to ask is "How does it go?"

The answer is, "Pretty darned good."

There is a ton of power available with the Denali's 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 255 horsepower. The engine is General Motors' workhorse push rods/rocker arm 350 V-8 that has two valves per cylinder and 330 foot-pounds of torque.

That's good enough to pull about anything, including some good-sized tree stumps using the vehicle's four-wheel drive. The transmission is the electronically controlled Hydro-matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic that has a higher capacity pump assembly, aluminum valves, and a revised clutch plate design.

The ignition system virtually is maintenance-free for 100,000 miles.

All this will take the Denali up the side of the Denali in good order. And the designers were concerned with your comfort while getting there.

O ccupants benefit from the same spacious interior dimensions found in the production GMC Yukon.

Legroom is a comfortable 41.7 inches in front and 36.9 inches in the rear. Headroom is 39.9 inches front, 38.9 rear. Total cargo volume adds up to a hefty 118.2 cubic feet.

To further enhance comfort, the Denali's front and rear leather seats have six-way controls, heated seatbacks, and four-way head rests.

Both front and rear seats are separated by a multi-feature, leather-wrapped center console that flows from under the instrument panel all the way to the back.

This multi-purpose console is a storage bin and has different sized front/rear cupholders, rear passenger auxiliary power outlets, and rear audio controls and a CD changer.

A drop-down TV is mounted in the front overhead console, and a VCR is located at the rear of the floor console.

How many of these features would be available in a production Yukon Denali is a matter of debate, but the next developing segment o f the sp ort-utility arena is going to be the luxury market.