2017 GMC Acadia Denali review – Roadshow

Cast  your mind back to 2007. The iPhone had just been released, your mom wasn’t on Facebook yet and Twitter still hadn’t reached its first birthday. Now think about how much all that has changed. You could say the same for the 2017 GMC Acadia.

Getting its first redesign since 2007, the three-row Acadia SUV, with room for six or seven, sports improvements across the board. It’s lighter, it handles better and it has more safety equipment. It’s also smaller, has less room inside and costs a bit more than the competition.


Smaller and blingier is a pretty apt description of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Acadia comes in six trim lines, and as is usually the case, the folks at GMC sent me the top-of-the-line Denali. This luxury-oriented trim line, available on all GMC models, distinguishes itself with flashy touches of chrome on the outside and bits of leather and wood on the inside. Special grille full of chrome? Check. Bright aluminum 20-inch wheels? Check, again. Dual chrome exhaust tips? You don’t even need to ask, amigo.

The Acadia Denali comes standard with second-row captain’s chairs or an available bench seat. The captain’s chairs are comfortable, and heated, but I don’t advise anyone but children attempt the third row.

The Driver Alert Package II, standard on the high-end Denali trim, includes blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and a safety alert driver’s seat that vibrates when you mess up behind the wheel.

Adaptive cruise control with full-speed automatic braking is optional on the Denali and not available on any other trim lines. While trying out the system in San Francisco’s notorious all-day and all-night traffic, I found that, while the technology brings the Acadia to a complete stop, the system disengages right away. Other adaptive cruise control systems give a 3-second pause, but the Acadia requires a tap on the gas right away to get it going again. Further, when the car starts to move, it does so with a disarming jerk. I expected more from technology with a price tag of  $1,345.

Those looking for driver’s aids could also look to Toyota or Honda. The Toyota Highlander has room for eight, besting the Acadia Denali, and comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense standard across all trim lines. Honda Sensing technology is standard on the upper trim levels of the three-row Pilot and available on everything but the base model. These Toyota and Honda driver aid packages come with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and precollision braking. Honda Sensing adds in road departure mitigation while the Toyota package has automatic high beams.


Looks like I have a perfect report card!

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Acadia comes with GM’s IntelliLink infotainment system, featuring large buttons on the touchscreen and an easy-to-use interface. An 8-inch screen with navigation is standard on the Denali trim, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard regardless of trim. The system has 4G LTE connectivity and the Teen Driver platform, which keeps tabs on new drivers and reports to parents how many times the traction control engaged or if any speed limits were broken. Sure, it’s a bit of a buzzkill for new drivers, and I would have decried it when I was 16, but in the end it helps parents keep tabs on their Little Darlings. 

If you need to charge your gear, have no fear. There is a 120-volt outlet in the rear of the center console and there are USB ports in all three rows of the Acadia Denali, so the kiddos can watch Netflix to their hearts’ content on road trips instead of, you know, talking to the family.

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