2017 GMC Acadia Denali First Drive

Geared towards busy families, the redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia Denali has arrived. As opposed to being just a minivan replacement, this mid-sized SUV crossover vehicle takes cues from traditional trucks, and that’s a good thing. The result is a family-oriented SUV that can handle just about everything you throw at it.

GMC describes the exterior as a modern statement that exudes confidence, capability, and precision. More specifically, it’s designed to look like a refined truck. We tend to agree with that sentiment. The Acadia isn’t flashy, but is rather handsome without coming across as too rugged. The front of the vehicle has a mechanical look to it that is complemented by the iconic Denali grille. Meanwhile, the rear is squared off to look more truck-like.


The interior isn’t flashy either, but exudes a premium look and feel thanks to aluminum trim surrounding the components, a dash with real stitching, real wood, and clearly visible craftsmanship overall. The interior has also been designed with excellent ergonomics thanks to large, easy-to-use knobs — everything is easily in reach and use. The dash has a large cubby for storage that can hold your phone securely without having it rattle around.

You also get three pretty roomy rows of seats, but there is a configuration that offers two rows of seats. The front row seats are heated and ventilated while the second row seats also come heated as standard. Perhaps more importantly, all three rows have USB ports. With a plethora of places to charge, it will help ensure that everyone’s devices stay powered through road trips. So perhaps the kids won’t be fighting about who sits where anymore?

A built-in 4G LTE hotspot running on AT&T’s network also comes standard. When testing the hotspot on the road, we noticed that the car’s hotspot generally got stronger reception then our own phones did that were also using AT&T service. There’s also plenty of storage compartments in each row for everyone to stow phones, cables, and whatever else they are lugging around.

When it comes to infotainment, GM’s own Navigation with Interlink infotainment system is solid. It offers a large touchscreen, basic voice commands, text message alerts, and apps. But, more importantly, the system can be configured with Apple CarPlay, which is an absolute must-have for drivers who are iPhone users. In general, Apple CarPlay is our favorite infotainment system to date. Android Auto is also available.

The Acadia Denali is targeted towards families, so it can be configured with plenty of safety features. The rear seat reminder feature is a new feature from GM that is activated when a second-row door is opened and closed during or just before a trip. When the car turns off, five chimes and a message helps make sure that the driver remembers to check and see if they left anyone in the second row. The feature’s goal is to help reduce the amount of deaths from children and pets accidentally being left in hot cars.

But, the safety feature that impressed us most in the Acadia Denali is the Safety Alert Seat feature, which we consider to be extremely unique yet practical. The Safety Alert Seat works by vibrating the driver’s seat when the car gets too close to any other objects. So your rear-end is essentially getting a buzz to prevent you from hitting anything. Needless to say, the experience is very effective.

Blind-spot monitoring comes standard too, but other features like the Surround Vision Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Collision Preparation, and the Dual SkyScape sunroof are add-ons.

Read on for the driving experience, verdict and pricing…

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