EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Like the 2014 Ford Explorer Limited I drove previously, the 2014 GMC Acadia Denali seems to me a terrific minivan for those who don't want a minivan.
All of GM's Lambdas (this, the Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave) have received facelifts lately. I think it works best on the GMC. At least to my eye, it is most noticeable as an improvement over the outgoing model. It works well here. I particularly like the new front end with its LED headlight accents and more aggressive grille. It looks quite a bit more modern. It needed it.
The GMC's a fine driver both around town and on the freeway. It's not fast, but I'd call performance more than adequate. Yes, it could use more poke, and the transmission hunts around a little out on the freeway, but the ride is smooth and comfortable. There seems to be less robustness here compared to a full-frame SUV, but will shoppers care? They probably will care that it's quiet around town and on the freeway. In fact, it's one of the quieter cars I can recall driving.
I do think the interior is a big improvement. Cabin materials are way up in terms of quality and fit and finish.
Like I said, it's a minivan for folks who don't want one of those -- those who can't deal with minivan baggage. What that is, I don't know. They'd have to explain it. When you get right down to it, the biggest difference between this and, say, a loaded Chrysler Town & Country is the T&C has sliding doors. Is that such a big deal? You would also save a decent amount of money with the Chrysler.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Boy, I almost feel bad for bagging on the Acadia Denali after the boss man lauded it with so much praise. The keyword being “almost”…
I do like the new sheetmetal on both the Acadia and the smaller Terrain. Makes them look not only good, but tough. I like upright front ends, which is why I wish the Jeep Cherokee would have stuck with it. The Acadia grille looks brawny, as do the slab sides and fender flares. The LED headlights look cool at night, though the rear, at least from a distance, looks dated. The entire shape looks dated, actually, like a throwback to the '90s when every Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy had the exact same silhouette. Everything's a crossover now.
I was informed that the platform is only 10 years old or so, not 20 years as I thought. Still, it feels suspiciously like my friend's 2000 Envoy.
The interior looked extremely old as well, aside from the touchscreen in the center. The gauges are just red, backlit with hash marks. The seats weren't as comfortable as they should be in a $50,000 SUV, and I swear they're the same as 15 years ago. On the other hand, the gauges, buttons and switches not attached to the radio were clear and easy to use, but the USB port in the dash is just plain dumb. My iPhone cord was hanging over the screen all weekend. The newer infotainment system was fine, though.
As opposed to Wes, I thought the V6 was quite noisy, especially in the higher rev ranges.
I will give the Acadia a pat on the back for tackling the snowiest weekend we've experienced this year in Michigan. With all the snow on the ground, I barely noticed. While others spun their tires and trudged through, I just rumbled by, each wheel kicking power in as necessary.
I don't like the new, soft crossovers, so I feel like I should like this, but it just feels old to me. Give me a small, nimble, boxy, real SUV and I'll be in line, wallet in hand.
2014 GMC Acadia Denali
Base Price: $49,600
As-Tested Price: $52,335
Drivetrain: 3.6-liter V6; AWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 288 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 270 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,850 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 16/23/18 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 17.4 mpg
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