When it comes to daily driver installations, you'll have to look far and wide to find one finer than the one that installer Nuno Fernandez of Millstone, New Jersey, installed in his '01 GMC Yukon Denali XL. Fernandez, who is also a volunteer fire fighter, needs a calling card for both his sizeable installation skills as well as a vehicle that can get him where he wants to go when he needs to, and the Denali fits the bill quite nicely.
There are so many creative elements to this installation that it's hard to know where to start, so we'll start at the front and work to the rear. As soon as you open either front door, the first thing you notice are the 8-inch JL Audio 10w6v2 subwoofers in custom-fabricated kick panels. Having big drivers this far forward in the cab ensures the crucial bass is up front and in your face.
The dashboard is dominated by the Kenwood eXcelon KVT-911 AM/FM/DVD/CD touch-screen LCD monitor. The KVT-911 is directly connected to the KDS-P901 5.1 surround sound decoder, providing full Dolby Digital and DTS playback capabilities. This is important because Fernandez went through the trouble to install a Kenwood KSC-900CTR center channel speaker in the lower portion of the center stack where it meets the center console. Listening to the system with the center channel switched off gives you a clear idea of just how important having a center channel has become in a high-end system, especially when listening to our reference Pearl Harbor DVD. While it is often difficult to fully integrate a proper center channel speaker into your system, it is almost always worth the effort. Fernandez took advantage of the KVT-911DVD's satellite radio capabilities and installed a Kenwood Sirius satellite radio tuner.
Staying up front, each door is equipped with JL Audio XR653-CSi three-way component separates. The midbass and midrange drivers are mounted behind the stock grille, each having been adorned with a black JL logo, while the tweeters were mounted in the stock location in the A-pillar. Providing rear fill in the 5.1 mode is a pair of JL Audio XR525-CSi two-way component separates, again mounted in the door locations provided by the factory.
The system has more than its share of video playback options. There is a 7-inch monitor in each front visor, a 2-inch monitor for the backup camera integrated into the Accele rearview mirror, and each factory headrest has been replaced with a factory-match headrest with a 7-inch monitor from VizuaLogic. It should be noted that Fernandez leased his truck, and although he has no intentions of turning it in at the end of his lease, his system is designed in such a way that it can be completely removed and the OEM components reinstalled with the leasing company completely unaware of the level of modifications that had been installed. The video components are seamlessly switched using the multizone capabilities of the Audiovox SDB45 five-pole switch. This is important because the system sports three different video sources: the KVT-911DVD in the dash and a Blaupunkt DVD player and Sony PlayStation 2 mounted in a custom panel on the driver side of the rear compartment.
Speaking of the rear compartment, where the third seat once lived is what typically woos crowds whenever Fernandez shows off his Yukon Denali XL. It's dominated by four rear-facing JL Audio 10-inch 10w6v2 subwoofers and the system's four Kenwood eXcelon amplifiers. One eXcelon KAC-X501F powers the front and rear doors, a second KAC-X501F powers the kick panel subs in a bridged mode, and two KAC-X401 each power a pair of the 10-inch subs.
The bilevel enclosure matches the interior trim and includes an Alumapro 15-farad capacitor providing reserve power-on-demand when the system is driven hard. The electrical system has been updated by the addition of a Lightning Audio 250-amp battery isolator and an Optima Red Top battery. Zero gauge power cable was run outside the cabin, ensuring the system is noise free. Fernandez even was able to integrate the factory OnStar system into the audio system. All wire, cable, and interconnects were provided by Tsunami, and as the photos show, all the wiring details are flawless, right down to the tiniest details. Fernandez has even included tools to make adjustment-they are located on the rearmost trim panel for easy access.
The Yukon Denali sports a number of non-audio/video extras, including a K-40 remote radar/laser detection system, an Escalade instrument cluster, a Street Scene front grille, a Sir Michaels roll pan, and a 2-inch rear suspension drop from Eibach. The system is accented with under-vehicle neon from Street Glow, and the engine has been treated to a K&N air intake.
At the time of our photo shoot, Fernandez was agonizing over choices for a wheel/tire upgrade. At some point by the spring of 2003, he'll upgrade the stock package with a set of 22- or possibly 24-inch wheels before showing the truck in regional events in the New York/New Jersey metro area.
In talking about his system, Fernandez told Sport Truck some of his goals in building the system. "I installed the Kenwood KVT-911DVD since I felt it was the best choice for a head unit," said Fernandez. "With this head unit I have the capability to watch a DVD in addition to a 10-disc CD changer, Sirius satellite radio, and the Kenwood KHD-CX910 MusicKeg hard drive player that can hold about 10,000 songs in MP3 format. The KVT-911DVD also gives me full 5.1 capabilities using the KDS-P901P DSP unit, giving me total control over the sound stage and crossover points of the amplifiers as well as 5.1 surround sound. I also have an Epic 150 bass enhancer with SPL meter. The final touch was mounting the center channel speaker where the stock CD changer used to be in the dash. I constructed the front panel out of ABS plastic and Bondo to give it a flush look, then wrapped it in grill cloth. I also flush-mounted the K-40 undetectable radar lights into the mirror along with the rear DVD remote eye."
Fernandez currently works as the lead installer at the Auto Image location in Freehold, New Jersey, and he would like to thank owner Mark Lubin for giving him the opportunity to hone his install skills. He would also like to acknowledge the help of fellow Auto Image installers Ralph Dimaiolo, Mike Miceli, and Frank Daponte. In addition to the Auto Image crew, Kevin Stillen at JL Audio, Chris Simpson at Kenwood, and Paul Platt at Audiovox all contributed to the effort. Finally, Fernandez asked to thank John Zelezik at Marlboro Auto Body who helped out with the painting on the front clip (the front grille was removed and the chrome was stripped off and color-matched to the truck) and the installation of the roll pan. Their results certainly speak for themselves.