This big family truckster grew on me over a long weekend and a couple hundred miles of driving. I’m still not sure how I feel about the visual aspects of the Denali package (chrome wheels that look exactly like giant plastic hubcaps from AutoZone and bigger, lower body cladding), but the interior appointments were nice.
For the life of me, I could not figure out how to activate the head-up display (someone else had turned it on between photo sessions), nor could I reset the mpg counter. The trip odometers were buried as well. A quick breeze through the manual would have solved this, but I consider these types of nonintuitive telematics issues extremely annoying.
One thing the manual was absolutely NO help with was locating the USB jack for the iPod. I had to go online to discover it was in the dashtop compartment (probably not a good place for an electronic device in the summer), and in the dark I could not find the jack by feel. Once connected however, the iPod controls were easy to use.
The highway and around-town ride was very comfortable, and the Acadia seemed to be pretty maneuverable in the parking structure and crowded mall lots for a vehicle of its size.
– Matt Tierney, Art Director
The Acadia (and its Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse siblings — R.I.P. Saturn Outlook) is still a great large crossover that’s an excellent alternative to heavier-duty body-on-frame SUVs. This big dog offers lots of space for the family (seven or eight seats), towing capability for most users’ needs (rated at 5200 pounds), and acceptable fuel mileage (17/24 mpg EPA city highway in front-wheel-drive form) at a good price ($32,615 base).
I was pleased with the performance from the 3.6-liter V-6, which has been updated with direct injection since we tested a 2007 Acadia for twelve months. I was less happy, however, with the levels of wind noise that penetrated the Acadia’s cabin at about 60 mph.
The new-for-2011 Denali package is mostly cosmetic. I’m not a big fan of the air-dam in the front, but I kind of like the graphite-colored wheels and illuminated doorsills, even though they may look like J.C. Whitney add-ons.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The big GM crossovers have aged reasonably well. Four years in, my only requests would be an updated navigation system and a little more oomph to keep up with the Ford Flex Ecoboost. The latter might be a tall order, as the direct injected 3.6-liter is currently the top dog in GM’s six-cylinder lineup, but that should change soon enough if the rumors that the General is readying a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 prove to be true.
The Acadia still wins points for its well-executed and well-packaged interior. And its tough-truck exterior is probably the most convincing you’ll find on a crossover. Behind the wheel, it feels like any big crossover, which is to say like a minivan with a higher hood. And though I would like to see a more powerful engine, 288 hp is hardly inadequate.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 GMC Acadia Denali
Base price (with destination): $43,995
Price as tested: $50,125
3.6-liter V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Stabilitrak stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Remote keyless entry
Front fog lamps
Heated/power outside mirrors
20-inch chrome wheels
Sunroof with 2nd row skylight
Leather seating surfaces
Heated and cooled front seats
Tri-zone climate control
Rear seat audio controls
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Bose audio system
AM/FM stereo with CD player
Ultrasonic rear parking assist
Options on this vehicle:
All-wheel drive — $2000
Touch screen navigation — $1890
Entertainment system — $1445
DVD and headphones
White diamond exterior paint — $795
Key options not on vehicle:
Cargo convenience package — $130
Fuel economy: 16/23/19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.6L V-6
Horsepower: 288 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4936 lb
Wheels/tires: 20-inch chrome clad wheels; 255/55R20 Bridgestone Dueller H/L all-season tires