Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Acadia Denali test drive review. You deserve this kind of luxury

As someone who always has an old car for a daily driver, a vehicle like this 2013 Acadia Denali is a real eye-opener.  I can hardly believe that people get to experience this kind of luxury.  I have never been more pampered in my life than the week I spent with this bus.  It was wall-to-wall leather, brushed aluminum, chrome, and shiny wood trim.  This vehicle was the mobile equivalent of leaving home and staying in a five-star hotel. 

A high-tech hotel at that.  This baby had a $2,200 navigation and rear-seat entertainment system so you’ll never get lost, and the kids’ll never get bored.  It had a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a head’s up display on the windshield, eight-way power memory seats, a tri-zone automatic climate control, XM Radio, OnStar, and a sweet Bose stereo.  It even had two sunroofs.  James T. Kirk didn’t have this much at his command.

The Acadia Denali had room for seven people.  And the nice part is, all of them had room to sit comfortably.  Even that third row is designed to let adults sit like adults instead of having their knees jammed up to their chins.  People can sit back there and run their own climate controls or watch a movie.  Of course, people with kids will be a typical customer for this.  But let’s face it, that rear seating area is too good for most kids.  They’ll be permanently spoiled before you arrive at Mt. Rushmore.

This amount of opulence does have a drawback.  It weighs nearly 6,400-lbs, and it feels like it from behind the wheel.  This vehicle reminded me much more of driving a Sierra pickup than it did a Chevy Malibu.  It might be a front-wheel-drive unibody, but as far as crossovers go, this one was more truck than car.

There are some advantages to that, though.  When you’re sitting in that captain’s chair, perched high above the ground, you really have a nice perspective of your environment.  The big GMC badge on that dazzling chrome grille, those shimmering 20-inch wheels, and all that bulky bodywork really make you feel like the King of the Road.

The 2013 version of the Acadia has a few design tweaks that distinguish it from previous models.  The grille, headlights, and taillights are all new.  There are some ominous LED headlight surrounds that illuminate whenever the vehicle is running.  And the rear glass wraps around instead of the more conventional D-pillar configuration.

My test vehicle was finished in a pearl white hue that GM calls White Diamond Tricoat.  It cost an extra $795, which alone is more money than I have paid for some cars.  But it was definitely pretty.  I have heard from bodymen that it’s actually not as hard to spot that color in as you might think.  So if you’re worried that you won’t be able to match the paint after you scrape the garage wall (by the way, there’s a backup camera, so you really shouldn’t do that), rest easy.

Another change for 2013 is a center airbag that is supposed to prevent the driver and front seat passenger from conking into each other in the event of a side impact.  It also has head side curtain airbags on all the rows.  Airbags everywhere.  Add that to the Side Blind Zone system that lights up on the mirrors when you’re not “CLEAR!,” and GM’s StabiliTrak system, and the Acadia Denali is an exceptionally safe vehicle.

This rig is powered by a 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6 that puts out 288-hp and 270-lb/ft of torque.  I have driven older Acadias in the past, and they were pretty underpowered, but this setup isn’t bad.  You aren’t going to win the Summer Nationals in it, but nobody is going to run over you either.  Expect a combined fuel rating of about 19-mpg, which is more than acceptable in a vehicle that is this big with this much equipment.

In total, my front-wheel-drive test vehicle stickered for $49,805.  That’s about five-times my budget for any vehicle.  But I could still think of worse ways to spend 50-large.  If you’re going to have something that oozes this much luxury, you know it isn’t going to come cheap.

Just like having to leave your hotel when the vacation is over, I eventually had to give up the keys to the Acadia Denali.  Getting back behind the wheel of my 17-year-old Chevy was definitely a reality check.  But if you have the funds to reside in an Acadia Denali of your own, by all means, do it.  You deserve it.

The slideshow below has pictures of my 2013 Acadia Denali test vehicle.  Or click on this link for a better version of the slideshow.


  1. "This vehicle was the mobile equivalent of leaving home and staying in a five-star hotel". I just love the way you describe it! Just checked the pictures and they are fascinating! Wish i could have an experience like yours!

  2. That is really cool. Thanks for sharing the details here.

  3. $50,000 and still no proximity key? You actually had to use a key to start the car? What is that about GMC?