The best place to get a sense of the relevance of the GMC Acadia Denali is in a Target parking lot the week after Easter. It was there I discovered that there are a whole lot of moms and kids in tow, and those moms are driving a variety of vehicles, ranging from Chrysler Grand Caravans to Pontiac Azteks, from Land Rover Evoques to Ford Flexes. And so the Acadia Denali, with its three-row, seven-passenger capacity (second row captain’s seats; third row bench) fit right in with the rest. With some aplomb. It was a good thing that I had the Acadia, because the lot was packed (Target is closed on Easter, so those bargains needed to be snapped up with a day out of that week) with vehicles. Consequently, you don’t have great sightlines for pulling out from between the yellow lines unless you’re in something the size of the Acadia, and unless you have, as the Acadia I had does, a rear backup camera and associated backup sensors. It is easy to imagine a War of the Titans with the multitudinous minivans, SUVs, and CUVs all trying to get in and out of spots at the same time. At the most extreme, Et in Arcadia ego comes to mind.
But moving on to things more blissful:
Inside the Acadia things are nice and tranquil. The quality of the materials is high; the stitched faux-leather dash is in keeping with a vehicle of its stature (i.e., the MSRP is $47,945 sans delivery), and the wood accents are nicely done. The chrome-colored trim on the transmission gate is a little jarring; shiny plastic tends to look like. . . shiny plastic, and I mean that in the chintzy sense: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with plastic done well (e.g., like the vinyl on the dash: discretion is the better part of vinyl). The seats are comfortable and supportive. Getting in and out is doable by people of various statures, which is an important consideration when you have a third row way back there.
There are a few quibbles that I have with the vehicle, however.
One is that when you have a vehicle that weighs over two tons, there really ought to be something other than a comparatively puny key necessary to crank the ignition. It is like having a lollipop in the face of a raging rhino.
Another is that when you have a vehicle that costs some $50,000, there really ought not be a need for a separate key fob to lock/unlock the doors. There are any number of vehicles with half that price point that have the fob and the key integrated or no key at all, just the fob, which leads me to. . .
Is it really possible that a luxury crossover doesn’t have pushbutton start? Think about it: the Acadia Denali has a heads-up display, the sort of thing you’d find in Corvettes and fighter jets. Yet you have use something that was invented 4,000 years ago to start it?
While still at the instrument panel, I wonder why when I look at the 6.5-inch color touch screen I see that it has GMC IntelliLink yet if I am in another GM brand, I see some other system (e.g., Chevrolet MyLink, Cadillac CUE)? While there is a mania for “common,” it seems that where there ought to be cloning is in the area of digital user interfaces. Yes, Buick also uses IntelliLink and yes, you only drive one car at a time, but still, if you, say, go to Orlando on vacation and rent another non-GMC, non-Buick GM vehicle, the familiarity is only vague.
Then there’s this. The Acadia Denali has a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 288 hp under the hood; it is mated to a six-speed automatic. Given the curb weight—4,850 lb.—and that power output, the vehicle has a power-to-weight ratio of 16.8, which is pretty poky. This is one big vehicle, and that’s not one powerful engine. This is undoubtedly the case because if you’re driving an Acadia Denali or something similarly sizeable, you’re aware of fuel economy. Thus the V6. It is stickered at 16 city/23 highway and 18 mpg combined; with the proverbial “egg under the accelerator pedal” I was able to eke out little better than 15 mpg combined, and know that there were plenty of minivans blowing by me.
The 2013 model has new exterior styling, which includes a boxier front fascia, presumably to provide more distance between it and the Buick Enclave. After all, people probably buy GMCs because of the “Professional Grade” positioning, and that means, no doubt, “more truck-like,” which means more rectangular. And so it is.
Engine: 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 288 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed
Wheelbase: 118.9 in.
Length: 200.8 in.
Width: 78.9 in.
Height: 72.6 in. (with roof rails)
Curb weight: 4,850 lb.
Passenger volume: 151.8-cubic feet
Maximum cargo volume: 116.1 cubic feet
Base MSRP : $47,945 (destination: $895)
EPA: 16/23/18 city/highway/combined mpg