2017 GMC Acadia DENALI – Road Test Review – By Tim Esterdahl


GMC angling to be a “premium brand” these days — a long way from their trucks’ deserved reputation as rebadged Chevrolets.  GMC has definitely changed, but not everything makes sense. The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is a perfect example of this.

It is essentially a rebadged Chevrolet Traverse with upgraded features and luxury. Do these luxury features push it to another level above the Traverse?

Absolutely, yet they may do more harm than good.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is one of several SUV models offered by GMC these days as the brand works to find complements to its better-selling Yukon Denali and Sierra models. It borrows much of the same styling and powertrain components of its larger cousins.

The styling is easy to see with the front grille shape mirroring what GMC’s current styling trend looks like. From the front it is a narrower version of the Yukon as well as from the sides and back.

Yet, the overall design, especially in the black coloring of our test model, doesn’t have the same appeal of the Yukon. It feels rushed and squeezed especially with the grille and rear. I have to say this could just a perception based on the color since I saw many other colors on other models which looked markedly better.


On the inside, the Acadia again borrows from the Yukon’s voluminous interior space design to create a large and roomy cabin. The driver is recessed away from the exterior pillars and sits very much like in a cocoon. Think of this design like you are going to a fast food drive through and instead of reaching out to grab your items, you have to really reach for them.

This is fine for many people and can be seen in various other vehicles like the Jeep Compass, however, it does create a disconnected driving experience.

Speaking of driving experience, our model was equipped with a 3.6L V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic felt slow. Surprisingly slow. GMC aimed to make this newly redesigned Acadia Denali refined and more powerful with the additional engine choice of the V6. It sounds great on paper since the new Acadia is now 700 pounds lighter than its prior version.

Yet, these days of turbo-charged engines and hybrids, the Acadia doesn’t feel fun to drive off the line.

Also, the promise of better fuel economy is great compared to its outgoing model, yet the 18/25/20 city/highway/combined MPG in our AWD tester leaves much to be desired.

It does ride well thanks to the optional real time chassis damping ($1,200) and could be a great road-trip vehicle.

One thing it offers a great job at is having a variety of great technology features. For example, the 4G LTE Wi-Fi is really a great item that is often overlooked as are the variety of USB connections the Acadia offers. Plus, the new rear-seat reminder feature – the vehicle warns you to check the rear seats if you opened and closed the rear doors prior to driving – is ideal for people on the go and hopefully will end the problems we currently have of leaving children in hot cars.

Ultimately, the biggest issue I found with the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali was in the price. Our test model rang up to $50,885 with $3,040 in options. Frankly, there are many options in this price point which deliver more style, better driving experiences and improved fuel economy. For GMC fans, the Acadia Denali is a no-brainer option for the crossover, but for other buyers, there are better options on the market.

Model: 2017 GMC Acadia Denali

Engine: 3.6L V6

Transmission: 6-Speed Auto

Fuel Economy: 18/25/20


  • Technology Package (Adaptive Cruise Control with full-speed front automatic braking, Automatic Collision Preparation, Surround Vision System ) – $1,345
  • Chassis Continuously Variable Real-Time Damping – $1,200
  • Crimson Red TintoCoat – $495

Price as tested: $50,885 with $995 destination fee

Photo Gallery – 2017 GMC Acadia SLT