Nuts & Bolts: 2012 GMC Acadia Denali

February 10, 2012

Bottom line: The GM “crossover three” — GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, introduced circa 2007 — still offer some of the best long-distance driving for families. All three have mostly minor cosmetic changes and new features for 2012. Here’s hoping that subsequent updates will include a diesel option to help pull all off that weight more efficiently.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Let’s be real. This is a nearly 5,000-pound family/stuff hauler with a 288-horsepower V-6 engine. You get highway-competent acceleration — safe lane changes, for example — but nothing exciting. If you want driving excitement, you don’t want a crossover-utility — not even the GMC Acadia’s sleek, supposedly “zoom-zoom” rival, the Mazda CX-9. You want a sports car, which the Acadia and its segment siblings are not. Ride is excellent. Handling is good.

Head-turning: It’s pretty, but rugged-looking enough to please buyers who think all vehicles should be trucks.

Body/style layout: The GMC Acadia and its segment siblings (Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse) are front-engine, full-size crossover utility vehicles (combination minivan, wagon and sport-utility models) available with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. They are of unitized-body construction with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engine/transmission: The 2012 GMC Acadia comes with a standard 3.6-liter, 24-valve, gasoline-direct-injection V-6 engine (288-horsepower, 270 foot-pounds of torque). It is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.

Capacities: Seats eight people. Cargo space with all seats in place is 24.1 cubic feet. Middle and rear seats fold to provide 116.9 cubic feet off cargo space. The Acadia Denali can carry a payload of 1,689 pounds. It can be outfitted to pull a trailer weighing 5,200 pounds. The fuel tank holds 22 gallons of gasoline (regular is recommended).

Mileage: My Acadia Denali real-world experience was 14 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; dual front side air bags and head air bags for second and third-row passengers; and OnStar emergency communications system featuring stolen-vehicle tracking assistance.

Pricing: The base price on the 2012 GMC Acadia is $44,660. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $42,427. Price as tested is $48,820, including $3.335 in options (onboard navigation with backup camera, rear video/audio entertainment system) and an $825 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $46,187. Customer rebates totaling $2,250 were in effect at this writing.

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