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LOW-KEY LUXURY: GMC Acadia AWD Denali fuses handsome styling with reserved, comfortable cabin in midsize family hauler

GMC marches to a different drummer with its midsize Acadia crossover.

While several of its competitors go all out with edgy styling and busy dashboard designs, the Acadia opts for a more soothing, reserved approach.

Our top-of-the-line Acadia Denali tester sported an elegant (optional, $395) Dark Sky Metallic clear coat paint highlighted by a judicious use of chrome accents. It’s an all-American look that middle Americans should find restrained but eye-pleasing.

The stylistic restraint extends inside. Keeping it simple seemed to be the directive here, with clean, attractive shapes on the dash and door panels. Most of the materials — particularly the leather-clad seating and contrasting dash and door caps, are soft-touch and attractive, particularly in their contrasting cocoa and slate tones. Only a few areas of hard-grained plastic — and a few touches of fake-looking petrowood — detract from the deluxe aura.

The Denali model provides eight-way adjustable buckets for driver and passenger, a much-appreciated feature for copilots. And both seats are heated and ventilated. The second-row outboard-position passengers can also partake in cool-weather warmth. An interesting touch: The Denali’s heated steering wheel automatically turns on when the seat heaters are activated.
There’s a complete, easy-to-read gauge package, white-on-black with red pointers. The speedometer is digital, while ancillary meters keep track of the usual fuel level and coolant temperature, as well as voltage and oil temp.

The Acadia doesn’t skimp on technology. GMC’s colorful, 8-inch IntelliLink touchscreen infotainment system is intuitive and quick to respond to commands. A proliferation of USB ports keeps passengers in all seat rows connected through 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, combined with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, come standard.

The Denali’s naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, delivers a smooth 310 horsepower, but only 271 pound-feet of torque. That results in a 4,000-pound towing capacity, surprisingly lower than several of its competitors. Still, the CUV proves pleasantly quick on the road.

The Acadia delivers a quiet, velvety highway ride, whether on an interstate or secondary two-lane. There’s some heft to the steering, but it transmits little road info.

This is not a sporty CUV, and that shows in the way it corners. At reasonable speeds, though, it feels confident enough.

Acadia’s cargo space is quite tight when the third-row seats are in use, but it easily expands when the back two rows are stowed. There are plenty of storage bins of various size throughout the cabin.

Overall, GMC has crafted a solid, comfortable family hauler with enough convenience, near-luxury and safety features to keep a prospective owner happy. And as a bonus, it’s darned good looking.