2017 GMC ACADIA DE­NALI

Big, easy at­ti­tude & Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity

Ripon Bulletin - - On The Road -

The three-row cross­over is the fam­ily car of the 21st cen­tury. It em­bod­ies the best qual­i­ties of an SUV, a mini­van and a car, with fuel econ­omy that won’t va­por­ize a gas card. The 2017 GMC Acadia is among the many choices, which in­clude the Dodge Du­rango, Ford Flex, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, Nis­san Pathfinder, Toy­ota High­lander and VW At­las. The top-line Acadia De­nali, today’s tester, is a nicely fin­ished choice with a long list of fea­tures and smart de­signs.

The Acadia was down­sized for 2017, mak­ing it more of a large mid­size cross­over. It is 7.2 inches shorter over­all. Al­most 4 inches were trimmed from the height. And the body is 3.5 inches nar­rower on a 112.5-inch wheel­base that is 6.4 inches shorter than be­fore. In all, the turn­ing cir­cle of 38.7 feet is 1.7 feet shorter. The Acadia weighs 700 pounds less than the 2016 and can be more fuel-ef­fi­cient with the new base four-cylin­der en­gine.

The Acadia is sold in four trim lev­els with seats for six or seven, front- or all-wheel drive and en­gine choices of a 193-horse­power, 2.5-liter di­rect-in­jec­tion four cylin­der or a 310-horse­power, di­rect-in­jec­tion 3.6-liter V-6. Both en­gines are paired with six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

Start­ing prices range from about $30,000 to $48,000. A midrange All Ter­rain model (which costs $42,230) has an ad­vanced Ac­tive Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive sys­tem and more hill-climb­ing fi­nesse. It is a five-seat con­fig­u­ra­tion and has a cargo sys­tem in­stead of a third-row seat. It gets an ex­te­rior style treat­ment of body color grille sur­round, black chrome trim and 18-inch wheels.

In ad­di­tion to eight air bags, stan­dard safety fea­tures in­clude the Driver Alert pack­age of side blind-zone alert with lane-change alert, lowspeed front au­to­matic brak­ing, front-pedes­trian de­tec­tion, auto-dim­ming head­lights, front and rear park as­sist, rear crosstraf­fic alert, lane-keep as­sist, fol­low­ing dis­tance in­di­ca­tor, for­ward-col­li­sion alert and driver seat safety alert.

The De­nali AWD V-6 tester ($52,185 with op­tions) was classy with a con­tem­po­rary work ethic. It is lux­u­ri­ous but not del­i­cate. The cabin is very well-sound­proofed, and sound is iso­lated from harsh­ness or vi­bra­tion trans­mit­ted from suspension, mount­ing points or even the 20-inch tires.

The V-6 and six-speed trans­mis­sion are an ac­com­mo­dat­ing and un­hesi­tat­ing match for com­pet­i­tive driv­ing dur­ing the com­mute. The AWD fuel econ­omy rat­ings are 18 mpg city, 25 highway and 20 mpg on the rec­om­mended 87 oc­tane. I av­er­aged 20.7 to 21.3 mpg over more than 200 miles. The 22-gal­lon tank pro­vides a good cruis­ing range.

The chas­sis rigid­ity helped me forget I was driv­ing a large ve­hi­cle. The $1,200 suspension up­grade for con­tin­u­ously vari­able damp­ing makes the ride qual­ity un­com­monly grace­ful over all road sur­faces. There is lit­tle to no body roll, even when pow­er­ing through a cor­ner. The steer­ing weight is ideal, too, and it com­mu­ni­cates a sense of com­plete con­trol at all speeds; there is no vague­ness or bob­ble as the wheel un­winds.

Sight­lines are open over the hood and over the shoul­der. A dual-view cam­era shows over­head and rear views and can be con­fig­ured as a tow­ing cam­era to align and hitch.

The front seats are large and with just enough bol­ster­ing to hold but not hin­der en­try or exit. The front-seat area is roomy. There is con­ve­nient and log­i­cal place­ment of con­trols, cup hold­ers, plugs and ports. The large charg­ing bin near the shifter con­sole has dual charg­ing USB ports, an AUX port for au­dio and a 12-volt plug. There are di­als and but­tons for easy ad­just­ment of fan speed, tem­per­a­ture, heat and air con­di­tion­ing. And even the broad color touch­screen is sim­ple to use for phone, au­dio and nav­i­ga­tion. The sturdy steer­ing wheel -- with neatly stitched soft leather -- com­mu­ni­cates con­trol.

The wo­ven fab­ric head­liner and wind­shield pil­lars have a premium ap­pear­ance that is com­pli­mented by ap­peal­ing plas­tic tex­tures and a smat­ter­ing of faux wood and brushed me­tal­lic el­e­ments.

As a fam­ily car, what kid wouldn’t want to ride in kingly com­fort with the Skyscape sun­roof? The sec­ond row has a flat floor and plenty of dooren­try width for foot pas­sage. Ameni­ties in­clude fan and tem­per­a­ture con­trols, heated seats, two charg­ing USB out­lets and a 120-volt house­hold plug. The 60/40 seats have a few inches of fore-aft ad­just­ment, and they also fold two ways: with a tip and slide for third-row en­try or flat fold for cargo. Ceil­ing vents in both back rows help clear the air, and there are three ar­eas in the door pan­els for cup, bot­tles and stuff.

The third row is kid-class with 31 inches of legroom, but it is well-ap­pointed with a USB out­let and cup hold­ers.

The cargo area is work­ing­class func­tional with 12.8 cu­bic feet of stor­age be­hind the third row and some base­ment stor­age. There are man­ual seat­back re­leases to fold the sec­ond row, and the 50/50 third-row seats are easy to fold and pull back into po­si­tion man­u­ally. There is also a small side bin that is ideal to hold a roll of trash bags.

Much of the Acadia’s good­ness is also foun­da­tional in the Chevy Tra­verse and Buick En­clave, but the GMC is wellde­fined as a premium up­grade with down-home Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity.

Photo con­trib­uted

The 2017 GMC De­nali

MARK MAY­NARD Au­toword

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