2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD
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Published on Sun, Jun 18, 2017
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
The all-new 2017 GMC Acadia, with the top-of-the-line Denali trim and AWD is one of the best-looking, best-performing, most comfortable, functional, and connected crossover SUVs in this booming sales segment. The Acadia in the Denali trim takes care of so much of what one expects from a crossover—it’s stylish, versatile and fun to drive. The new Denali is on top of its game, from an automaker that only builds trucks.
The 2017 Acadia is 700 pounds lighter, thanks to the prodigious use of rigid, high-strength steel for more precise, nimble handling. It’s 7.2-inches shorter, which makes it easier to park and provides a shorter turning radius. On the debit side, however, the third row legroom and cargo space is cut.
The unique exterior styling features sculptural details, a wide-mouth dimensional chrome grille, chrome trim around the bottom lower air-intakes, foglamps, horizontal wraparound LED headlights and DRLs. The side features heated, self-dimming side view mirrors, steeply raked A-pillars, a chrome strip around the greenhouse and under the doors. The rear shows horizontal LED taillights, a power-operated lift gate, a chrome strip with the GMC emblem and dual exhaust tips peering through metallic trim. It is the right amount of chrome trim to give it a more luxurious look. This new Acadia Denali AWD sits on big 20X8 inch 6-spoke aluminum wheels, wrapped with Goodyear 235/55R20 inch all-season tires for excellent grip and a quiet ride.
Power to motivate the Acadia Denali to 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.7 sec. is the 3.6 liter, DOHC, aluminum alloy, V6 engine with VVT and direct injection. It generates a healthy 310hp at 6,600 rpm and 271 pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm. The Denali’s engine off/on system enables slightly higher fuel mileage in city driving. This powerplant is mated to GM’s 6T70 6-speed automatic transmission that changes gear up and down seamlessly. My Acadia Denali comes with the All Terrain’s advanced AWD system with Active Twin Clutch optimizing traction for every road condition that I encounter. A drive mode selector rotary dial on the center console changes the transmission and AWD system to Sport and Tour for better hill-climb capability. Maximum towing is 4,000 pounds when properly equipped.
The front and rear independent suspension is one of the best with StabiliTrak and Active Damping Shocks. It flattens the road surfaces on washboard dirt roads, and stiffens up body motion when cornering. When cruising at speed on the highway it feels like I am driving on glass. Up front is an independent setup with MacPherson struts, direct-acting stabilizer bar and active damping shock absorbers. The rear independent setup features five links, coil springs, stabilizer bar and direct acting damping shock absorbers. Driving the all-new Acadia Denali feels more like a sedan with excellent turn-in, great tracking when cornering, and reading the road ahead to maintain a level, cushioned ride.
The electric-variable-effort power rack & pinion steering system benefits from GMC’s Active Return Assist. Steering gives excellent feedback and feel for the road with no slush when cruising straight ahead, and gives me confidence when cornering at high speeds.
Quickly slowing this beautiful and easy-to-drive SUV down from speed are large, power-assist steel disc brakes. Up front are 12.6 inch vented discs clamped down with dual-piston calipers and 12.4 inch solid disc brakes with single-piston calipers. Precise braking power and direction are enhanced with ABS, electronic stability control; optional automatic braking and low speed forward automatic braking as part of the Denali package. These excellent mechanicals are part of the near luxury, roomy interior with today’s latest convenience, safety and connectivity features.
The test Acadia Denali has two-rows of leather captain’s chairs with tri-zone heating. The front comfortable and supportive leather sport bucket seats are also ventilated and each features 10-power adjustments including lumbar support. The 50/50-split third-row seat folds flat for a completely flat floor behind the second-row. All three rows come with USB charge ports for compatible electronic devices. More features inside include hand-cut and sewn leather dash and door with quality wood trim, an instrument cluster with an 8-inch reconfigurable center, a Bose Premium 8-speaker Surround Sound audio system with XM Satellite, AppleCarplay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, navigation, 4G LTE WiFi Hotspot and IntelliLink that is faster, easy to use, and more precise than before.
Gorgeous, powerful, ergonomic, near luxury, roomy, comfortable, well connected and safe—I’d put my money on the GMC Acadia Denali if I were looking for a mid-size SUV. This is a booming segment in the auto industry with a model from every manufacturer and this is near the top.
© Harvey Schwartz
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THE MAIN INGREDIENTS
Name of vehicle:
2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD
$52,285.00 (as tested including destination)
EPA fuel economy rating:
18 city/25 highway miles per gallon
3.6 liter, aluminum alloy V6 with Direct Injection, VVT and Stop/Go
Hydra-Matic 6T70 6-speed automatic AWD with Active Twin Clutch
Drive configuration: All-wheel drive EPA size classification*: Standard SUV 4WD * Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.