2011 Acadia Denali
- Written by Wilson Calvert
What it is: The GMC Acadia, is the GMC flavor of General Motor’s Lambda platform crossover utility vehicle. The platform is also shared with the Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave and the now defunct Saturn Outlook. I have driven the Lambda platform for several thousand miles and it is a wonderful truck. The same engine is available in all of the vehicles, a 3.6 liter V6 rated at 288 horsepower. Most SUVs offer rear wheel drive much like traditional trucks, but the trend for city traversing crossovers, like the Acadia, is to move to front wheel drive. It’s a cheaper and lighter system that provides a fairly significant gas mileage increase. The FWD version is rated at 17 city / 24 highway while the all wheel drive version is rated at 16/23. For an 8 passenger SUV, this rates favorably. The review so far could have applied to any of the Lambda cars, but I was provided with the Denali version, which is GMC’s top-level trim package. The Acadia prices out $12,000 higher than the base level Acadia ($31,000 and $43,000 respectively) and provides all sorts of niceties that focus on the visual appearance and not additional engine performance. You get several Denali-unique items like a honeycomb grill, front and rear fascias, 20” wheels, HID lighting package and some special paint. You also get Acadia premium options including a leather interior and 10-speaker Bose stereo. It’s not listed on GMC’s website, but I do believe that the Denali has a smoother suspension. The Lambda platform provides a great quality ride, but I felt the Denali excelled above that. My test Denali was an AWD model, so that may have provided the better quality ride. Price: $45,220 base price with AWD. $50,125 as tested. Upsides: A great crossover that GMC has improved the exterior visual appeal dramatically. Downsides: The Denali package for the Acadia is merely a visual package, and it’s quite a bit of money for a V6 crossover. Summary: The GMC Acadia is a great car. GM has done a wonderful job with the Lambda platform crossovers, and the Denali design team has taken the exterior to a different and unique level. A wise person once said, “If you’re doing something that everyone approves of, you probably aren’t doing anything worthwhile.” The Denali edition Acadia is definitely not for everybody, but for those looking for a unique and refined vehicle, then it will fit the bill.