Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2014 GMC Acadia Denali test drive review. Comfort, utility, and confidence no matter the conditions

My household consists of myself, my wife, and one fairly undersized 10-year-old boy.  The seven-passenger 2014 GMC Acadia Denali is probably more vehicle than we need.  However, this was a busy week.  I opened up a swap meet display.  My dad and I went to the Mecum auction.  And the family headed up to St. Joseph to watch my son’s basketball tournament.  With each task, I began to appreciate more and more the safety, utility, and convenience of a large crossover like this.  It’s no wonder people like these things.  For real-world use, you just can’t beat them.

And people really do like them.  While it’s true that I get excited about muscle cars, sports cars, and hot rod sedans when I write these reviews, I had more “regular” people ask questions about this Acadia than most anything else I’ve driven.  This isn’t just any people-mover.  This is the people-mover—an aspirational, $50,000 status-symbol that tells the world that your family is important to you, and you can afford to transport them in something better than most. 

By better than most, the targets are probably the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.  In my heart I’m a GM guy, so I think the Denali nameplate carries more cache than either one of those brands, but there’s no denying that the Acadia has more room in it than either one of them.  There’s 116.1-cubic feet in there.  That’s enough to carry lots of car parts to the swap meet, all your fourth-grade basketball gear, or just a couple of people to dinner.  The seats are easy enough to move up, down, and all-around, so there’s not much danger of not being able to configure things to do whatever you need.

One of the things we needed was to get up to St. Joseph on Sunday morning for BHo’s basketball tournament.  If you live around here, you know that we had some new snow and ice that morning that made travel treacherous.  We literally saw someone in an Explorer lose control on I-29, head to the berm, and flip over twice.  It was not a good deal.  But this Acadia, even as a front-wheel-drive model, was up to the task.  We took it easy, of course, but I never felt like we were in any danger.  GM equips these vehicles with their Stabilitrak stability control system and traction control, which inspires confidence.  But I doubt those systems got much use anyway, because we never got out of control in the first place.

Power for our snowy excursion came from a 288-hp, 3.6-liter V6.  This plant is turning up in several GM cars now-a-days, but it does an admirable job in the Acadia.  Yeah, I’d love for them to build one of these busses with a 5.3-liter V8, but that usually doesn’t happen on front-drivers like this.  Plus, it would be hard to achieve the 17-mpg/city, 24-mpg/highway rating.  Think about that for a second.  Room for seven passengers.  Able to tow 5,200-lbs.  288-hp.  270-lb/ft of torque.  24-mpg/highway.  That’s not too shabby for a 4,700-lb vehicle.

And everyone was very comfortable on this trip.  BHo could choose to sit in his own captain’s chair, or go to the way-back where we couldn’t reach to smack him around when he got on our nerves.  Plus, he was able to watch movies on the integrated DVD player and drop-down screen.  Up front we had GMC’s Intellilink system, with satellite radio coming through Bose speakers, navigation, and a color touch screen.  And if the driver didn’t want to look away from the road, there was a head’s-up display, blind zone and cross traffic alerts, and a rearview camera.

This is not my first experience with a GMC Acadia Denali, and I hope it isn’t my last.  They are expensive, but as a practical family hauler, they’re among the best around.  Photos of my Crystal Red Tintcoat tester are in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.

1 comment:

  1. These are some of the nicest SUV's around. We love ours.