2019 GMC Acadia Denali essentials: Keep the SUV, skip the Denali trim
What is it:The 2019 GMC Acadia Denali is the top trim of the company’s mid-to-large sized three-row crossover. It can seat 6 or 7, depending on equipment and only comes with a V6 making 310 hp and a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.
Key Competitors: Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas
Base Price: $48,495 As-Tested Price: $52,170
Highlights: The GMC Acadia started its second generation in 2017 meaning for this year only a few colors are new. It shares a plaform with other GM models like the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. Our tester came with the Technology Package that includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go, forward automatic braking and surround vision cameras.
Our Opinion: The three-row GMC Acadia goes up against industry stalwarts like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. If you need a third row, you’re intrested in this segment. If you’re not, then you’re not. And for an enthusiast, there’s really nowhere to go. The Mazda CX-9 is always my pick in this area, but the Acadia does have a few things going for it.
First, it’s not bad looking. The original Acadia, debuting in 2007, was blockier, which I liked. But this new one has the right proportions and shape, and doesn’t feel too big in smaller parking lots. Looking at both the Denali and non-Denali version, I think I like the less expensive version better. At least on looks.
Throttle tip-in is good. This SUV gets going quickly, and the V6 gives the punch you'd need with a full third row. The six-speed, which sounds a little dated, was mostly smooth and quiet. It will spin the front tires in the rain, which happened a bunch of times to me, until I switched into 4WD auto. That’s good for quick getaways no matter the weather.
The seats look good and are very comfortable on the rear, but I had a hard time finding a good driving position. The interior too, is styled well, but some of the materials seem a little cheap for a $52,000 vehicle. I do like look of the instrument panel and the non-finished wood. As far as controls, everything is where it should be, and there are plain old knobs for volume and tuning.
It is compliant over bad roads and the tires are big enough that you wouldn’t have to worry about chunked cement or sharp potholes. And when I went over a particularly long stretch of patched blacktop nothing rattled or made noise.
Like I said, the Mazda is my choice here, maybe the Buick Enclave is second. Nothing in this class is going to set the world on fire, but drive those two first. I haven’t driven the new Subaru Ascent yet, but that gets good reviews too.
--Jake Lingeman, road test editor
Options: Technology Package including adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking and surround vision system ($1,495), dual skyscape sunroof ($1,400), dark sky metallic ($395), floor liner package including first and second row all-weather floor liners, third row all-weather floor liner and integrated cargo liner ($385)