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2013 GMC Acadia AWD Denali Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, GMC, SUV, Test Drives

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Beauty Left Wide Done Small

GMC ups the ante in the midsize crossover segment with the newly updated Acadia Denali.  This top-of-the-line Denali model will keep any crossover enthusiast, couple or family happy with its power, performance, unique styling, interior roominess, and comfort, luxury and safety systems.

The Acadia was GMC’s first crossover and helped define a segment that has grown in popularity since its 2007 launch.  The Denali model was added in 2010 and broadened Acadia’s appeal to luxury consumers with its combination of functionality and style.  For 2013 the Acadia Denali introduces new exterior styling, greater interior versatility and more safety features including the industry’s first front center airbag, as well as a new infotainment system with touch-screen controls.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Beauty Side Done Small

The Acadia Denali is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive as well as seven-and-eight-passenger seating configurations.  It stands out from the crowded midsize luxury crossover segment with a monochromatic exterior, satin-chrome accents, new three-dimensional polished grille with LED daytime running lamps, HID headlamps, a redesigned lower front fascia with round foglamps, rear LED lamp clusters, unique body-side moldings with satin-chrome accents and Denali badges, dual flow-through chrome exhaust tips integrated into the rear fascia, steeply raked windshield A-pillars, chrome pull-out door handles, power liftgate, rear spoiler fitted atop the liftgate, outside heated-power-adjustable, power-folding sideview mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, body-color with integrated turn signal indicators and flared fenders stuffed with 20X7.5 inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels wrapped with 255/55R20 inch all-season radial tires.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Engine Done Small

Powering the new Acadia Denali AWD is a 3.6 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC, Direct Injected V6 engine with VVT.  It produces similar power and torque as many V8 engines with 288hp at 6,300rpm and 270lb.ft. of torque at just 3,400rpm.  The engine is mated to the smooth shifting Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission.  It features an advanced clutch-to-clutch shift operation for front-and all-wheel-drive models.  It also offers automatic grade braking, shift stabilization and precise shift control, as well as hill start assist.  I tested the intelligent all-wheel-drive system that increases traction on slippery roads by actively managing the torque distribution between the front and rear axles, based on factors such as wheel speed, throttle and surface conditions.  There is no driver intervention.  The system is seamless, automatically deciding how much torque to apply and delivers it to the wheels that have the best traction.  Quick and precise steering is accomplished through standard hydraulic rack & pinion with a straight ratio and variable effort.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Beauty Rear Done Small

Acadia Denali rides on a long 118.9 inch wheelbase with a wide 67.3 inch front and 67.4 inch rear tracks-a combination that lowers the center of gravity and enables smooth, stable ride and handling characteristics.  The front independent suspension features a MacPherson strut design with direct-acting stabilizer bar, coil over the low-flow struts, aluminum knuckles and a full perimeter isolated cradle to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.  The rear independent suspension features a compact, linked ‘H’ arm design with coil springs, new twin-tube low-flow shocks, a stabilizer bar mounted on an isolated sub-frame to further diminish noise, vibration and harshness plus enhancing stiffness for more precise steering.  Whether driving over smooth or rough roads the suspension system remained quiet and smooth with precise and quick reaction to my inputs at the wheel.

Slowing the new Acadia Denali down from speed are strong, power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers and 13 inch vented discs clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Helping control the direction of the Acadia Denali during severe braking situations or when braking on slick or wet pavement is standard ABS, Dynamic Rear Proportioning, Brake Assist, StabiliTrak, and Traction control.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Dashboard Done Small

The interior of the new Acadia Denali is truly ‘fit for a king’ with perforated leather-trimmed first and second row seats with heated and cooled front seats and 8-way power-adjustable front bucket seats that are so comfortable and very supportive.  The dashboard and instrument cluster is covered in real leather with French stitching.  There are real dark wood veneer and aluminum trim on the dashboard, center console, and doors.  Red ambient lighting gives the interior that up-level touch.  The interior has a car-like ‘low and away’ instrument panel that enhances the feeling of openness in the front-row seats and provides a commanding outward view.  The instrument panel and other interior elements feature high-quality, low-gloss materials and tight gap tolerances.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Rear Seats Done Small

All Acadia models offer three rows of seating that can be configured for seven or eight passengers, regardless of the trim level.  The seating configurations include two front bucket seats, a 60/40-split second-row bench or two-row captain’s chairs and a 60/40-split third row bench seat.  GM’s exclusive Smart Slide feature is standard, allowing quick and easy access to the third-row seating area.  The second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, effectively compressing the space occupied by the seat with the pull of a lever.  The Smart Slide system also allows the second row to be positioned fore/aft.  When adjusted rearward, the second-row seat provides more legroom for taller passengers.  When adjusted forward, it provides more storage space or additional legroom for third-row passengers.  Storage space of 24.1 cu.ft. is available behind the third-row seat.  Maximum available storage capability behind the first row seats is 115.9 cu.ft.  additional standard interior features inside includes tri-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat entertainment system with USB port, a rear DVD player with remote control, overhead display, a Bose 5.1 surround sound system with eleven speakers, two sets of wireless headphones, three-prong household-type power outlet, a head’s-up’ display that helps keep your eyes on the road, remote keyless entry, remote vehicle start, Navigation system, center console with dual cup holders, sliding armrest and deep storage bin, dual SkyScape two-panel sunroof and fixed rear glass, leather/wood/power tilt/telescopic/heated steering wheel with audio controls, roof-rack with aluminum side rails, trailer hitch, power windows/door locks with front express up/down, rear cargo storage system underfloor, universal home remote, cruise-control, dual map lights, dual lighted vanity mirrors, Denali signature floor mats and grab handles at each passenger door.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Front Seats Done Small

GM’s Color Touch Radio with touch-screen control is standard and comes with IntelliLink allowing customers to seamlessly integrate online services such as Pandora internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio using hands-free voice and touch-screen controls via Bluetooth-enabled phones.  IntelliLink adds stereo audio streaming and wireless control of smartphones, building on the voice-activated Bluetooth hands-free calling capability, while retaining all the capabilities of today’s entertainment functions, including AM-FM-SiriusXM tuners, CD player with MP3 playback, auxiliary and USB inputs.  Additional audio system features include HD radio capability, a photo viewer and a standard rear-vision camera with dynamic guide lines that will display on the high-definition screen.

2013 GMC Acadia  Denali AWD Cargo Hold Done Small

Standard safety features include ONSTAR automatic crash response, airbags-front/side-impact/ front center side-impact (world’s-first), head curtain front/rear airbags, 3-point safety belts for all passengers with front pretensioners/load limiters, tire pressure monitor, blind side alert system, rear cross-traffic alert system, rear door child safety locks, LATCH system for child seats, engine immobilizer, front/rear crumple zones and steel beams in each door.

The newly updated 2013 GMC Acadia Denali AWD V6 powered midsize crossover sport utility is one of the best looking, best performing and loaded with comfort, luxury, convenient, ergonomic and safe vehicle in the segment.  In Denali trim there is no better vehicle in the segment, plus it is the lowest priced vehicle in its segment.



  • Price: Base Acadia AWD Denali $47,945.00 / As-Tested $51,180.00
  • Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6 direct-injection 288 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm / 270 lb.ft. of torque @ 3,400 rpm
  • Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed automatic
  • Turning circle: 40.4 ft.
  • Wheelbase: 118.9 inches
  • Overall length: 200.8 inches
  • Overall width: 78.9 inches
  • Overall height: 72.6 inches with roof rails
  • Curb weight: 4,850 pounds
  • Minimum ground clearance: 7.6 inches
  • Fuel tank: 22 gallons
  • Maximum towing: 5,200 pounds
  • Headroom: f/m/r-40.3/39.6/38.4 inches
  • Legroom: f/m/r-41.3/36.8/33.2 inches
  • EPA mileage: 16 mpg/city, 23 mpg/highway



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