A new, premium Denali model joins the GMC Acadia lineup for 2011, adding a new dimension of luxury and exclusivity to this popular crossover. It brings the distinctive Denali design elements, including a chrome honeycomb grille and monochromatic exterior color cues, along with exclusive fascias, high-intensity discharge headlamps and unique interior features.
“The GMC Denali models have come to stand for luxury and exclusivity, and that’s just what customers will get in the new Acadia Denali,” said Lisa Hutchinson, GMC product marketing director. “The decision to develop an Acadia Denali was made quickly within the new GM in response to customer and dealer demand for a Denali version ever since the launch and success of the Acadia.”
Indeed, the Acadia continues to win over customers. In a still-recovering market, Acadia sales were up nearly 45 percent in the first quarter of 2010, making it second in brand sales to only the broad Sierra range of trucks.
In addition to the new Acadia Denali, the Acadia is offered in two cloth trims, SL and SLE, and leather trims designated SLT1 and SLT2. All models are available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive with seven- or eight-passenger seating configurations. A comprehensive safety system includes six standard air bags and standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control and rollover mitigation technology.
Acadia at a glance
Acadia’s body-frame integral structure enables lower entry/exit height for passengers. Despite the vehicle’s SUV-like front-end height, the front door step-in height is only 18.9 inches (480 mm); the rear door step-in height is 19.8 inches (503 mm). Entry to the second- and third-row seats is easy with very wide rear doors and GM’s exclusive Smart Slide second-row seat feature.
All models are powered by a 3.6L V-6 VVT engine that uses gasoline direct injection technology to optimize performance and fuel economy. The engine is paired with Acadia’s fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission to help give FWD models an EPA-estimated 24 mpg on the highway. The Acadia also is capable of towing up to 5,200 pounds (2364 kg), when properly equipped.
Acadia’s interior exudes refinement and attention to detail, with many thoughtful features designed into a finely crafted environment. A car-like “low and away” instrument panel enhances the feeling of openness in the front-row seats and provides a commanding outward view. The instrument panel and other interior elements feature high-quality, low-gloss materials and tight gap tolerances.
Acadia Denali details
The 2011 Acadia Denali is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models, as well as seven- and eight-passenger seating configurations. It stands out with its signature Denali design cues, highlighted by the monochromatic exterior and chrome honeycomb grille.
Further distinction comes with 20-inch, two-tone chrome-clad wheels. The six-spoke wheels feature black chrome spoke inserts set against bright chrome. It is offered in five exterior colors: Quicksilver Metallic, Summit White, Carbon Black, Red Jewel Tintcoat and White Diamond Tricoat.
Seating and storage
All Acadia models offer three rows of seating that can be configured for seven or eight passengers, regardless of the trim level. The seating configurations include two front bucket seats, a 60/40-split second-row bench (three passengers) or two second-row captain’s chairs (two passengers) and a 60/40-split third-row bench seat. Generous storage space of 24.1 cu. ft. (682 liters) is available behind the third-row seat (with the cargo management removed).
GM’s exclusive Smart Slide feature is standard on all second-row configurations, allowing quick and easy access to the third-row seating area. The second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, effectively compressing the space occupied by the seat with the pull of a lever. The Smart Slide system also allows the second row to be positioned fore/aft. When adjusted rearward, the second-row seat provides more legroom for taller passengers; when adjusted forward, it provides more storage space or additional legroom for third-row passengers. Seating space is sufficient for adults in all positions.
Access to the third-row seat also is aided by Acadia’s rear door width, which is wider than the doors on most other SUVs. The vehicle’s long wheelbase also enables greater accessibility. The rear door opening was maximized by reducing the space between the rear door and the leading edge of the door opening. Engineers were able to maximize the opening space while providing optimal chassis integrity for maximum occupant protection.
Along with comfort and ease of entry, Acadia’s interior offers generous cargo room, including 115.9 cu. ft. (1,382 L) when the second- and third-row seats are folded flat and the cargo management removed. Additional storage is also available in a covered rear cargo convenience center behind the third row that allows items to be stored out of sight beneath the rear cargo floor.
Ride and handling
Acadia rides on a long 118.9-inch (3,020.7 mm) wheelbase and wide 67.28-inch (1,709 mm) front/rear tracks – a combination that lowers the center of gravity and enables smooth, stable ride and handling. Sharp reflexes are also supported by independent front and rear suspensions. The front suspension features a MacPherson strut design, with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and aluminum knuckles. Isolated mounting points help reduce noise and vibration.
The rear suspension uses a compact, state-of-the-art linked “H” design, which uses an isolated mounting system to reduce noise and vibration transmitted to the passenger compartment. This design enables the handling prowess that comes with an independent suspension, but with minimal floor pan intrusion – a feature that helps the Acadia offer generous passenger and cargo space.
Acadia features standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, with variable-effort steering available. The suspension and steering system meet the road via standard 18-inch wheels and tires, with 19-inch wheels available. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard.
Acadia’s available Intelligent AWD system enhances dry-road handling and provides increased traction on wet, snow and ice-covered roads. It actively manages the torque distribution between the front and rear axles, based on factors such as wheel speed, throttle and surface conditions. There is no driver intervention; the system automatically decides how much torque to apply and it automatically delivers torque to the wheels that have the best traction. The AWD system’s tuning is revised to provide more rear torque bias during certain driving conditions.
Acadia’s 360-degree safety system helps protect passengers before, during and after a crash. A strong structure is the foundation, while a wide stance and low center of gravity helps reduce the likelihood of a rollover. Acadia’s structure is reinforced in numerous areas with high-strength steel, including a stiff steel cross-car beam welded across the floor between the B-pillars. It also uses dual-phase steel in select areas, such as the lower engine compartment rails. Dual-phase steel is strengthened in the paint oven and offers easier formability, reduced mass, greater strength and better crash energy absorption than most high-strength steels.
Acadia is equipped with six standard air bags: two dual-stage frontal air bags for the driver and front passenger; two seat-mounted side-impact air bags in the first row; and two head curtain side-impact air bags that cover all three seating rows. The head curtain side air bags are among the longest air bags in any production vehicle.
Complementing the air bags is GM’s rollover sensing system, which can preemptively activate the side-impact air bags if sensors determine a rollover is imminent. In the event of a rollover, the air bags stay inflated longer to provide increased occupant containment.
Acadia also comes standard with OnStar 9.0 (with a six-month Directions and Connections plan including Turn-by-Turn navigation and Destination Download) that features Automatic Crash Response.
Acadia is covered by GM’s five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty – the best coverage in America.