2011 GMC Acadia Denali: How The Hell Do You Spend $40K On A GMC Crossover?

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It's seems the new GM has two kinds of cars: the genuinely world-beating — like the Cadillac CTS-V, and the woefully badge-engineered — like the 2011 GMC Acadia Denali.


The "Denali" badge used to denote the top spec of the full-size Yukon SUV. You know, the Escalade for Texan contractors who think Cadillacs are only suitable as presents for future ex-wives. Now, it's being used to add a faux-luxury trim to the top of the depressingly mediocre GMC Acadia lineup.

So what do you get if you really, really want a gussied-up uncompetitive crossover? A bunch of appearance upgrades and no additional mechanical functionality whatsoever.

GM hasn't announced an official price for the Denali package. But the current top-of-the-line SLT-2 starts at $38,490 in FWD form and $40,490 if you want to pretend that you'll go off-road. Judging by all the leather, wood and 20" two-tone rimz in this press release, getting a "Denali" badge is going to add a least a couple grand to that, if not quite a bit more.

Here's the press release:

DETROIT – Today GMC unveiled the 2011 Acadia Denali in Detroit. The first Denali was launched in 1999 on the Yukon brand and helped define the luxury SUV segment. With nearly half of all Yukon sales being Denali models, expanding the Denali line to include the Acadia was a logical extension. Acadia Denali will provide GMC customers with all the amenities the Denali is known for in a fuel-efficient crossover.

"The GMC Denali models have come to stand for luxury and exclusivity, and that's just what customers will get in the new Acadia Denali," said Lisa Hutchinson, GMC product marketing director. "The decision to develop an Acadia Denali was made quickly within the new GM in response to customer and dealer demand for a Denali version ever since the launch and success of the Acadia."

The Acadia launched in 2007 as the first crossover from GMC, with segment-leading fuel economy and innovative features. An exclusive SmartSlide System allows easy access to an adult-sized third row with available seven- or eight- passenger seating configurations. Fold-flat second- and third-row seats allow flexible passenger and cargo configurations of the best-in-class interior space. Acadia's refined styling, impressive fuel efficiency, and confidence-inspiring safety features made it an immediate success and ideal platform to build upon for a Denali model.

The 2011 Acadia Denali goes on sale in the third quarter of 2010. It is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, as well as seven- and eight-passenger configurations. The standard 3.6L direct injected V-6 contributes to an EPA highway rating of 24 mpg with FWD models.

The Acadia Denali will stand out with its signature Denali design cues highlighted by the mono-color exterior and chrome honeycomb grille, a feature on all GMC Denali models. It also wears a number of specific exterior design cues, including:

* Unique lower front and rear fascias
* High-intensity discharge headlamps
* Body-color lower cladding and rocker moldings
* Body-color rear fascia and fender flares
* Unique body-side moldings with chrome accents and Denali badges
* Dual chrome exhaust tips

Further distinction comes with 20-inch, two-tone chrome-clad wheels. The six-spoke wheels feature black chrome spoke inserts set against bright chrome.

The Acadia Denali is offered in five exterior colors: Quicksilver Metallic, Summit White, Carbon Black, Red Jewel Tintcoat and White Diamond Tricoat.

Luxury amenities

Acadia Denali delivers all the luxury and refinement that are hallmarks of the Denali line. It includes a number of exclusive design, comfort and convenience features including:

* Premium acoustics - laminated glass, triple door seals, and liquid applied sound deadeners
* Perforated leather seats with matching leather door panel trim
* Heated and cooled driver and passenger seats
* Leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany wood inserts
* Complementary wood grain finish on the instrument panel and center stack
* Enhanced accent lighting in the footwells
* Chrome, lighted sill plates with the Denali logo
* Dual SkyScape sunroof system, with sliding front sunroof and fixed rear section
* Head-up display (HUD)

Additional content includes:

* Tri-zone automatic climate control
* Navigation system including XM NavTraffic (available)
* Bluetooth connectivity
* OnStar
* Rear-seat DVD entertainment system, with roof-mounted flip-down screen (available)
* Premium audio system with USB port and Bose 10-speaker sound system
* XM Satellite Radio
* Rearview camera system
* Eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory
* Remote vehicle start

GMC capability

Acadia Denali is powered by a 3.6L direct injection V-6 engine with VVT that optimizes performance and fuel economy, while also reducing emissions – including a 25-percent reduction in cold-start emissions. Engine performance is enhanced by the advanced six-speed automatic transmission. The maximum towing capacity is a class-leading 5,200 pounds (2,364 kg).

A long, 118.9-inch (3,021 mm) wheelbase and wide 67.28-inch (1,709 mm) front/rear tracks give it a lower center of gravity and enable smooth, stable ride and handling for driving comfort. Independent front and rear suspensions enhance smoothness and deliver a more responsive driving experience. The front suspension features a MacPherson strut design, with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and aluminum knuckles, while the rear suspension uses a compact, state-of-the-art linked "H" design. Isolated mounting points help reduce noise and vibration.

The suspension is tuned specifically for the Acadia Denali's 20-inch wheels and the available AWD system enhances dry-road handling and provides increased traction on wet, snow and ice-covered roads. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard, as are the following features:

* StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology
* Traction control system
* Tire pressure monitoring system

Acadia Denali is covered by GM's five-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Warranty and three-year/36,000-mile Bumper-to-Bumper warranty – the best coverage in America.



I thought the "Denali" badge was for polygamists.

Regardless, is the Acadia really that "uncompetitive?" I see an awful lot of Lambdas rolling around, and most of them seem to be of the GMC persuasion.