Review: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali

Posted on 23. Mar, 2011 by in Auto News

Set with its conventional minivans and midsize SUVs, GM relies heavily on its large "Lambda" crossover-the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave to serve to the family market. With more than 230,000 sold in 2010, they are simply the best seller in the segment *. By comparison, Ford moved only 34,000 cords. But now in its fifth model year, the Lambdas are old. With cash and short advance of insolvency, what could be done on the cheap in order to get buyers interested upright? The winning answer: a new variant of the GMC Acadia Denali.

GM got the Lambdas' exterior design from the beginning. Riding on a customized platform that lambdas' tight athletic proportions are far better than that of the minivan-based vehicles they replaced. Trimmed with the Saturn Outlook, sees each of the remaining three models good while staking their own aesthetic territory: sporty and car-like for Chevrolet, lean and luxurious for Buick, GMC and traditional SUV. Equipped to Acadia the brawny topic kick up a few notches for the Denali, GMC a chrome honeycomb grille, monochromatic body kit and massive 20-inch, two-tone chrome-clad alloy wheels. The bold look of the Yukon Denali has been successfully transferred to a lambda. But the Acadia SLT with its slimming black lower body trim and clean five-spoke alloys, is probably more attractive if less likely to draw attention to themselves.

Significant changes in the interior would have been expensive, so less was done. The door sill plates illuminate "Denali", the leather on the seats is perforated (an option on the SLT) and seems more luxury, matching vinyl trim partially covering the door panels and dark wood-tone trim replaced faux metal on the panel, center console and doors. The trim on the steering wheel is supposedly genuine mahogany, but without obvious grain, it looks like "piano black" plastic and does not match the faux wood. These changes update the interior ambience, but not enough. The wood-tone trim is fake obviously, keep the door-mounted armrests one downscale look and feel, and it's too much hard plastic. On the basis of recently developed products such as the Chevrolet Cruze, GM craft would be a much nicer interior, if it were today starting from scratch.

A stupid design choice: a ridge at the base of the A-pillars, requires a high-precision instrument panel alignment that do not reach the system frequently. Additional quality features off (in case you inspected the illusion that the press receives carefully tweaked and vehicles): wrinkles in the seat leather and a side wall in the cargo area, which refused to fix. These remarks, I should also note that owners of 2011 have not yet been any repairs lambdas True Delta reported the Car Reliability Survey. The 2010 is about average, while older models, the boundary between average and span "below average." Common problems on the older cars (which may not have completely dissolved prior to the current model year) include airbag wiring, headlamp sockets vulnerable to melting, seat tracks, and solve the most difficult leaks.

Several features that have further distinguished the Denali might be missing:

* No adaptive cruise
* No steering-linked headlights
* No auto-dimming headlights
* No rain-sensing wipers
* No blind spot warning system (would certainly help)
* No front obstacle detection (ditto)
* No keyless ignition (standard on most Nissans)
* No power tilting and telescopic wheel
* No steering wheel heating
* No heated rear seats (on a Hyundai Elantra!)
* Do not feel like lighting.

The absence of so many features, the age of Acadia (these features were much less five years ago), the sub-premium original mission, and GM's recent history can be traced. A mid-cycle enhancement that would normally have occurred by now, would have added many of these functions. But during his bankruptcy GM had everything cut not necessarily. The Denali had to deal with functions that already on the lambdas.

Noting that minivans were in decline despite their superior functionality, GM gave the Lambda is a high SUV-like attitude. Getting in requires more climbing than other crossovers. Once in the driver's seat forward vision is commanding without as expansive as in a minivan. You feel as if you are sitting in a car, albeit a large one. In both the second and third row view is much more constricted than in the "stadium-style" seating of a Ford crossover.

The Acadia has more passenger space than any other crossover (although a Ford Flex offers seven inches more legroom in the second row). A greatest-in-class external (200.7 inches long, 78.2 inches wide, 69.9 inches high) allows more than 61 inches of shoulder room, most competitors have a significant two to four inches less. The Acadia of the third row is a tight fit, if the second row is all the way back, but they can be moved forward a few inches for all but the largest adults. The most minivans offer more legroom in the third row, but most people seem willing to sacrifice this advantage to attract more adventure styling.

Back in 2006, I found seats be a lambda weakness. In the years since it has only gotten worse. The front seats are quite comfortable, but they still offer no lateral support and power lumbar support is now two-way instead of the original four-way. Help further substantial thrones would justify the Denali label.

Despite large interior of the Acadia, his second-row seats remain among the least adult-friendly in a crossover. They are thinly padded, contoured and sufficiently low. The second row of seats in minivans suffer from similar defects, but allow them to stow under the floor. What is GM apology? Most likely: so the seats collapse like folding chairs, as they push forward, opens a wide path to the third row. This can not be done installed a child seat, so those tend to young children to the "captain's chairs", which have a wide (if squishy, because, as the floor is constructed) walkway between them, rather than opting Three -person split bench.

The third row is wide enough for three people (compared to two for all competitors store pilot), but it is even lower to the ground. In one of the auto industry's biggest unsolved mystery, this seat originally the best lateral support of the bundle provided. Extended a complicated mechanism inside the back strengthens, when the seat was deployed. Given the cost of this mechanism and the futility lateral support in the third row when none was found in the other two are available, GM deleted later.

Cargo volume behind the third row, ample on paper, is not as useful as in a Honda Pilot or Ford Flex because there is no deep well. The Acadia has a storage space under its relatively high load floor, but (in contrast to that in the new Nissan Quest minivan) This subject is too shallow to hold much. Fold the seats, however, and the Acadia can hold much more than any other crossover: 68.9 cubic feet behind the second row (vs. 47.7 in the pilot, and 45.0 in the Flex) and 116.9 cubic feet behind the first row (vs. 87.0 and 86.7 in the pilot in the Flex). The most minivans offer 140 + cubic feet at a much lower load floor, but except with the Chryslers you need to remove to reach the second-row seats to it. A Flex advantage: Unlike the Acadia is his co-driver also works unusually long items to accommodate.

GM no specific weight for the Denali, but it must weigh over 4,800 pounds with front-wheel drive and more than 5,000 four-wheel-drive. The new Dodge Durango, although almost as big and developed to meet the additional costs of the off-road (Jeep in shape) and heavy towing handle, weighs about the same. GM used clearly a front-wheel-drive, car-like platform to increase interior space (maximum cargo volume is 84.5 cubic feet in only the Dodge SUV) instead of reducing to ground.

Probably because the Durango Five-speed automatic transmission with relatively high initial transmission, the 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 feels weak at low revs. The solution: Dodge also offers a 360-horsepower 5.7-liter "Hemi" V8 that motivates the Durango 2.5 tonnes. GM planned a completely new "Ultra" V8 offering in the Lambdas, but this engine was a few years ago as a means of growing dense canceled. A turbo V6 option along the lines of the Ford Flex "EcoBoost" would be an interesting alternative, but GM is not such a motor finished 2013 up to model year.

Not a big problem with GM's six-speed automatic transmission, a more powerful engine is less necessary when you need to haul something substantial. I have argued that the non-turbocharged V6 works well enough in Flex, and the same is the case with the 288-hp direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 Acadia. During my week with the Denali I wished for more power.

I wish to control less torque. I had assumed that GM would be a vehicle with four-wheel drive. I learned otherwise the first time I went the pedal more than half on the floor and the front end of all the light and squirrelly. If your right foot is almost always lightweight, all-wheel-drive is highly recommended.

GM six-speed automatic has got smarter in the last half decade. It then selects the right gear more smoothly and with more confidence. For curves and inclines a lower gear can be manually selected via a toggle switch on the switch. The transfer is not always respond quickly to these inputs but the "range selector" is good enough as it is likely to be used. The head-up display (HUD) helps by projecting a tach and the selected gear on the windshield.

The Acadia Denali trip computer usually reported a little over 16 mpg in typical suburban driving. This is consistent with EPA ratings of 17 city and 24 highway (with all-wheel drive 16/23). Not bad considering the Acadia, the size, and weight.

Apart from loud clomping over minor bumps (especially at low speeds), the Denali ride is not affected much by its chrome-clad Dubs. Slightly firmer suspension tuning for the upsized wheels has additional unsprung weight, if any, to compensate for the already good body control improves the Acadia. (In the front seat, at least, children reported in the third row on a bumpy, noisy ride.)

For all those who are used to a smaller vehicle, subject to the size of Acadia significant acclimatization. The large crossover of his element in parking lots, where the corners are hard to find and there is little room for error, and in very tight corners. But in more generous curves it feels confident and planted. Minimal lean and understeer for this type of vehicle The stability control, if and when it does kick in, is unobtrusive.

Given this situation, thoroughly predictable chassis, it's a shame that the Denali steering worse than the Acadia SLE is one I drove for comparison purposes. The shorter, stiffer sidewall of the tire should Denali its direct steering feel. Instead of Denali tiller often feels more isolated and uncertain, even sloppy at center. My guess: While the suspension has been optimized to work with the 20-inch wheels and tires, the steering was not. Another difference: While the SLE is continually working steering, and Acadia SLT have a variable-assist unit. I could see how the latter was preferable at any speed. Compact, firmer steering-like that in the revised Chrysler minivans, the Denali would much confidence inspiring and pleasant to drive.

In line with its luxury theme, the Denali is equipped with the Buick Enclave front laminated glass and extra soundproofing. As a result, the Denali is quieter inside than other ACADIA has a fine quality of the remaining noise. But the regular Acadia's quiet inside (and if memory serves, quieter than when it was introduced).

The tested vehicle lists for $ 48,125 with nav ($ 1,690), rear-seat entertainment ($ 1445) and "white diamond TRICOAT" paint ($ 795). Add $ 2,000 for all-wheel drive. The rest of the Acadia features available (including a two-panel sunroof, HID headlamps, and the HUD) are standard on the Denali.

GM does not do much to the Acadia Denali turn into a. But to his credit, it is not much charge for the changes: only $ 1,205 more than a similarly equipped Acadia SLT. Ask for the largely cosmetic products are not offered on the SLT with True Delta car price comparison tool, and the difference is only about $ 250. If you would prefer a Denali looks and all the features it has, this is not paying too much extra. With the GMC Yukon, the Denali upgrade commands a nearly $ 4,000 premium.

A similarly equipped Dodge Durango Citadel lists for $ 2,320 less than the Acadia Denali-enough to pay for a HEMI upgrade, and then some. What's more, the redesigned Dodge has many of the "latest and greatest" gadgets not with the GMC. Ask for these and expands the Dodge advantage over $ 4,300. With such aggressive pricing, the Durango seems like one if you do not need to steal the Acadia additional interior.

But if you do the Acadia the interior, there are no alternatives, apart from the other Lambdas. No other crossover comes close in this regard. The Acadia perform continue to handle and ride well. Unfortunately, these issues most in need of improvement seats and interior materials-have not in the past five years have been greatly improved.

In this context, the Denali is a disappointment. It adds no new non-cosmetic properties, much less a stronger motor is inside is not enough of an upgrade, and the steering is a step in the wrong direction. Obviously realize how little bits to add the Acadia Denali, GM invites very little extra for them. Still, if the bold, massive look of the Denali I would rather opt for the SLT, to a vehicle GM has earned more of the premium sub-brand. How fast could this be done? With GM now in a much better financial shape are the lambdas is revised for model year 2013.

* The Lambdas are the top sellers, if you define the segment three-row crossover. If you include the Odyssey (with the Pilot and MDX) Honda takes the top spot.

Author's Note: Some Detroit residents took exception to the photo of downtown Detroit Auto Show I added to my coverage. As compensation, I offer these photos of a mansion under construction a few miles from my house in the "burbs Someone clearly still believes in the vitality of the area you are also clearly love cars.. The house itself consists of nine garages and existing shed adds three more.

GM provided the Acadia Denali, together with a full tank and insurance for this review.


Dick Johnson Lung Hamer offered GMC Acadia SLE. He can be reached at 248-461-1037.
Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.