2017 GMC Acadia Denali review: Waiting for us

2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD

2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD

We were on our way home from a winter break in Florida, and it was good to have a 2017 GMC Acadia Denali waiting for us at the airport. Toss the luggage in back, climb in the front. Set the climate control, radio presets and navigation destination for home; the first because we need to, the second because we want to, and the third because we can. And it’s good that we can because the navigation lady tells us to take an alternate route because of congestion. We do, and that final leg of the trip home is a little less frustrating.

Indeed it’s good that we are in the 2017 Acadia Denali. The name remains the same from the previous GMC Acadia but it’s all new. GMC notes that its 600 pounds lighter, but it’s also smaller. Wheelbase, for example, goes form118.9 down to 112.5 inches, and at 193.6 inches long, it’s seven inches shorter than the 2016 Acadia. GMC made the new Acadia narrower as well. It is, in a word, smaller.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD interior

The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD interior is well-trimmed and comfortable.

Unless stepping from another Acadia, most owners won’t notice. It’s big enough to compete in the midsize crossover/SUV market. The Acadia Denali brings with it an impressive bag of luxury.

From its name, it should. Like other GMC models wearing the Denali sub-brand*, the Acadia Denali sits above the GMC Acadia lineup that starts with the $29,070 Acadia SL, it’s powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder driving the front wheels. A 3.6-liter V-6 is optional with the SLE and standard on the SLT. The Acadia SLT starts at $42,675. All Acadia trim levels are available with all-wheel drive except the SL and SLT-1.

The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Although those in northern climes look at a crossover-SUV with front-wheel drive like a fish without fins, fwd probably makes sense for the Acadia in places like Miami or San Diego if they’re never driven very far out of town. Otherwise, really people, what are you thinking?

2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD drive mode seector

The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD drive mode selector is shown set in Sport. Among other settings, it puts the Acadia in all-wheel drive.

Perhaps fuel mileage. Surprisingly it doesn’t make a difference. Whether front- or all-wheel drive, an Acadia powered by the V-6 is rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway (or 21/26 mpg for the four, fwd or awd). That’s remarkable. It does it by disconnecting the all-wheel drive system when in front-drive mode.