Model Tested: Denali
Story: Michael Crenshaw
There was a time when, as a consumer, you were limited to SUVs that crowded the road like drunken elephants looking for their next watering hole. Sure, there are still behemoths out there—and there ain’t nothing wrong with that—but if you’re looking for a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the new 2011 GMC Acadia Denali is cut from a different cloth.
Speaking of cloth, the Denali option smothers the interior in plenty of high-quality cowhide, such as the front heated and cooled seats, for instance. You want options? The Acadia Denali has what seems like an unlimited amount of seating possibilities and storage configurations. Want to throw a set of 30s in the back? Fold down the second and third row with one hand. Thinking about tailgating? Fold the third row, and bring the bacon to the party with three of your boys in captain’s-chair comfort.
Though you might like a hulking V8 under the hood (who doesn’t?), the Acadia does right with the 3.6-liter V6. What gives this 288hp six the right moves is its 7,000 rpm redline, which almost seems out of place in a three-ton hauler. If you’re not Daddy Warbucks, don’t fret, ’cause the motor is a fuel sipper, netting 23 mpg highway.
All in all, the Acadia Denali falls short on nothing—except price. For 50 large, you’re getting a fully equipped, all-year-round banger. It’s got room, vroom and boom, with plenty of space leftover to pile on the aftermarket goodies. The year is just starting to pop off, and with this much bang for your buck in the Denali, the others have a lot of moving forward to do if they don’t want to be caught in the past.
Power: 288hp, 270 lb-ft
0-60: Slow ride, take it easy
Gas Cash: 16 city, 23 hwy
Miles Driven: 759
Interior: Rear-seat entertainment with wireless headphones is the perfect remedy for overactive young’uns or friends with ADD. Second-row captains’ chairs are a nice touch, taking motoring elegance to the next level.
Exterior: The new-for-2011 Denali trim offers aftermarket-looking exterior pieces. The grille, body-colored rocker panels, 20-inch chrome wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips set the mood. This ain’t no ordinary SUV.
Floss Factor: Bluetooth integration means you can talk hands-free and hear crystal clear thanks to pumping audio through the sound system.
Flaw Factor: Not being able to control the iPod while on the move is getting tired, especially with a shotgun DJ.