Review: Acadia meets Denali

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., Jan. 28, 2011
- Contributed Photo

One part of the process in the seemingly endless amount of work that goes into automotive design involves the naming of the new vehicle. In the case of the GMC Acadia, we first met this very impressive Crossover Utility Vehicle in the 2007 model year, and the name originally referred to a former French colony in Canada (founded in the 1600s) that at the time also included a lot of New England. Acadia National Park in Maine is what I think of when I encounter the GMC version, because both the park and the vehicle are very kid-friendly and entertaining.
For 2011, the Acadia is available in a new Denali version (also a park, and a name for Mount McKinley that means “The High One” in the original language of the region). This is GMC’s top-of-the-line trim designation, and according to the GMC product marketing director, “The decision to develop an Acadia Denali was made quickly within the new GM, in response to customer and dealer demand for a Denali version ever since the launch and success of the Acadia.”
Like all Acadias, the Denali version rides on a 118.9-inch wheelbase and is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive versions. The engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct injection, and develops 288 horsepower.  The transmission is a six-speed automatic, and properly equipped Acadias can tow a 5,200-pound trailer.
Despite this vehicle’s considerable size, our test Denali accelerated to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds and the drivetrain is silky smooth, with quick, crisp shifting that optimizes both power and fuel economy. The all-wheel drive system on our vehicle worked brilliantly in the slick snow, and is a definite must-have in these parts. The unibody structure is stiff and delivers a rattle-free, solid ride that handles broken pavement well and insures precise and predictable handling. Brakes are strong and progressive, and of course GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control is present to help keep the Denali on course in traction-compromised situations.
The Denali package adds a touch of luxury to an already roomy, versatile interior, and like all Acadias, there’s three-row seating with the choice of either a split bench or captain’s chairs in the second row. We had the latter configuration, which means seating for up to seven adults (and even the third row is reasonably roomy and comfortable). The Denali package includes heated and cooled leather seating, enhanced lighting accents and a Dual SkyScape sunroof system. We also had both the optional navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment systems, all in the pursuit of creating the perfect luxury, cross-country people-hauler.
The Denali trim level takes the already excellent Acadia CUV and maximizes the great capability of this CUV, and it is as pleasant to drive as it is to ride in. It’s also amazingly versatile, and a great choice for growing families. The 201l GMC Acadia Denali is EPA-rated 16 MPG city/23 highway and has a base price of $45,220. With options, our MSRP came to $49,525.


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