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2018 GMC Acadia Denali offers high-class design, versatility, strong tech Featured

Jun 10, 2018 Hit: 59 Written by 
One strong point of the 2018 GMC Acadia is its versatility in terms of cargo space.
One strong point of the 2018 GMC Acadia is its versatility in terms of cargo space. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

As SUVs continue to top the list of most carbuyers’ wish lists, and more and more automakers expand their offerings, it’s a constant struggle to keep up. One of GMC’s top offerings is its three-row mid-size offering, the GMC Acadia, which battles such category heavyweights as the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and newcomer Volkswagen Atlas.

After some time driving a 2018 Acadia, I’m back with a full report on how it holds up in the category.

LOOKS

Versatility and space is key with any SUV. And the good news is that the 2018 Acadia offers a healthy amount of storage room with the second and third rows down. It’s also very easy to lower the seats, and even with the seats up there is easy access to the Acadia’s third row. Be aware though, the back seat is pretty tight and I would recommend for kids only whenever possible.

The leather-appointed seating in the Denali model I tested was quite comfortable.

I had a 6-passenger setup (2/2/2), but you can also opt for a seven-passenger version.

Other niceties included heated and ventilated front seats. Optional second-row heated seats; leather wrapped steering wheel; LED daytime running lights; 20-inch polished aluminum wheels; and a sunroof. Denali touches make it shine inside (wood accents) and out (grille).

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 GMC Acadia Denali
  • Price as tested:: $50,050 (base Acadia starts at $32,600; Denali starts at $45,100)
  • Best feature:: Space, tech, luxury Denali features
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Midsize SUV buyers seeking an upscale option with a pleasant ride and strong tech/safety features

 

HOW’S THE RIDE

The Acadia Denali I tested featured a 3.6-liter, V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Numbers were 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque.
Another option on lower trim levels is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offering 193 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft. of torque.

All-wheel drive is offered, but front-wheel drive is standard. An optional trailer package allows you to pull up to 4000 pounds.


In my time with the Acadia, I found the drive to be comfortable and responsive, with limited road noise. It’s not the fastest in class from a stop, but has impressive power once you are moving. I can also say that you don’t feel like you are driving a large vehicle, with an almost car-like drive feel at times due to a lower weight total than many of its competitors. It’s more maneuverable than others in the class.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

One are where the GMC Acadia shines, to no one’s surprise, is the technology and safety department.

First, let’s start front and center -- with its impressive and easy to use GMC infotainment system. Navigation worked well, and voice commands were responsive for music, phone  navigation and POIs. Buttons and dials throughout the vehicle are well-placed so anyone can figure the controls very quickly.

Other features include: Heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for phone mirroring on the 8-inch center touchscreen; Bose Premium 8-speaker audio system; 3 months of satellite radio; OnStar services and a 4G wireless hotspot offered.

Lots of safety and tech features are offered, another key with a family vehicle like this.

You get a full array of air bags; Anti-lock 4 wheel disc brakes; Keyless entry and start and remote start, and near-perfect government safety ratings. The very helpful Teen Driver feature lets you monitor your kids and how they are driving.

Safety features offered include: Front and rear parking assist; Following distance indicator; Rear cross traffic alert; Lane keep assist with lane departure warning; Low speed forward auto braking; Lane change alert with side blind zone alert; Front pedestrian braking.

MPG
Official numbers on fuel mileage in the AWD version of the Acadia are 17 city/25 highway/20 combined; I averaged 20.5 mpg during my time in the vehicle, so the numbers seem to check out.

But how is it compared to other three-row SUVs in the segment? Mostly this is a good area for the Acadia. It performs better than the VW Atlas and Ford Explorer; is on the same level as fellow GM vehicle Chevy Traverse; but is slightly behind Pilot and Highlander in final mpg numbers, though not by much.

PRICE
My top level Denali test vehicle came in just over $50,000. This is a bit high in my view, even with the Denali setup. Base price starts just under $33K, but offers the more basic engine. You do get a five-year, 60K powertrain warranty on all new GMC Acadia vehicles.

BOTTOM LINE

If you want a high-end midsize SUV without going full luxury, the Acadia Denali delivers. If you don't needs the fancy looks and features, the more basic versions of the Acadia are better options. Whichever version you like, the Acadia competes well in the category.

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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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