As gas prices and a rebuilding economy have both lead to the resurgence of big crossovers and SUVs, General Motors is following a more forward-thinking approach with its latest mid-size crossover lineup (like the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali) by scaling down the size of these family vehicles.
Riding on the same platform as the 2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover, the second-generation GMC Acadia is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, and it is also far more refined. To get the ultimate experience of this all-new GMC crossover, I recently tested the top-of-the-line 2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD that gives this “professional grade” brand an added touch of style and luxury.
2017 GMC Acadia Denali Exterior:
Like other Denali-badged GMC products, the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is easily recognizable thanks to its abundance of bright chrome, the big wheels and, of course, the signature grille. Despite being smaller than the previous Acadia, the design language of 2017 GMC Acadia is far more truck-like with a sculpted, muscular hood, squared-off nose and a tall, flat roofline. The GMC letters stand out against the Denali grille, and the lower chrome elements and horizontal headlights help accentuate the Acadia’s wide stance. On the Denali, these headlights are upgraded to HID lighting with stylish LED accents, while the rest of the Denali-specific items include the 20-inch six-spoke, polished aluminum wheels and rectangular dual exhaust outlets.
2017 GMC Acadia Denali Interior:
Where the GM Lambda crossovers (including the first-gen Acadia) are plus-sized midsize crossovers, the smaller dimensions of the 2017 GMC Acadia is instantly noticeable, but the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali makes up for this with high-end materials, the latest cabin technologies and a rugged-looking style. Standard features inside the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali include heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering column, OnStar 4G with LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot and a Denali-exclusive eight-inch color driver information center in the instrument gauge cluster. For added convenience, each row of seats offers USB charging ports for passengers to best enjoy their electronic devices on long trips.
The tighter quarters of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali does result in a smaller third-row seat now suited more toward kids or short trips for adults, but this is really no different from the third-row seats available in other mid-size CUVs. This tester was equipped with the $1,400 for the Dual SkyScape roof, which features a power sunroof above the front row and a fixed glass panel above the second row allowing light to shine on this stylish cabin decked out with dark, perforated leather on the seats and accent trim such as rich matte-finish wood and brushed aluminum. When passenger capability must give way to cargo space, the 2017 GMC Acadia can accommodate up to 41.7 cubic feet of cargo volume, and unlike some competitors, the rear rows fold down completely resulting in a perfectly flat load floor.
2017 GMC Acadia Denali Performance:
Although the 2017 GMC Acadia does offer a new four-cylinder engine option for budget-conscious buyers, the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali comes exclusively with the 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 rated at 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. Sadly, the Acadia doesn’t get the XT5’s eight-speed automatic transmission, but performance and fuel economy are still commendable thanks to the lighter structure and the use of cylinder deactivation with EPA fuel economy estimates of 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway**. With the exception of the base SL trim, all versions of the 2017 GMC Acadia are offered with standard front-wheel-drive and optional all-wheel drive, and when it comes to towing capability, the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali can tow up to 4,000 pounds when properly equipped.
On the road, the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali feels far more nimble than its predecessor thanks to a reduction in curb weight totaling 700 pounds. Not only do the retuned steering and brakes make the new Acadia easier to drive, the Continuously Variable Real Time Damping suspension system, available only on the Denali AWD models, makes for an even more engaging driving experience with suspension dampers that can read the road and adjust ride quality. Finally, the narrow body pillars and tall seating position give the driver excellent visibility from all angles.
2017 GMC Acadia Denali Safety:
Even though the standard 2017 Acadia gets plenty of safety features including eight standard air bags, one of the most innovative is the new Rear Seat Reminder, which looks to reduce the amount of children who were mistakenly left unattended in a vehicle. This feature works by sounding an audible chime and putting a message on the display screen for the driver to check the rear seat anytime either of the rear doors are opened before the vehicle is started – as is the usually the case when putting a child in the back seat. Other high-tech safety goodies that come standard on the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Automatic Braking, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam Automatic Headlamp High-Beam Control, Surround Vision Camera, Rear Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The new Acadia has yet to be crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but this new mid-size crossover has already received a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2017 GMC Acadia Denali Overall:
It isn’t very often that the GMC brand gets to boast an exclusive vehicle in the General Motors lineup, but the three-row 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is definitely a stand-out model with no other rebadged model. Bridging the gap between the posh Cadillac XT5 and whatever the future has in store for the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is just as capable of competing against a decked-out Honda Pilot as it is stealing customers from the INFINITI QX60. While the 2017 GMC Acadia is affordably priced starting at $29,070*, the Acadia Denali starts at $44,920* with this fully loaded 2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD carrying an as-tested price of $52,185.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation GMC dealer and test drive the 2017 GMC Acadia today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.