Tim Spell, Motor Matters

In the five years since the launch of the Acadia, GMC's first Crossover Utility Vehicle has kept pace with this popular and growing segment. Adding polish to the Acadia's "Professional Grade" character, GMC introduced the uplevel Denali model in 2010 -- blending in more luxury with the vehicle's strong passenger- and cargo-toting capabilities.

Denali charisma -- an already well-known enhancement with other GMC products -- was a natural for the Acadia, and today represents 30-plus percent of the crossover's sales. About 50 percent of Acadia sales are women buyers and its conquest sales outside of General Motors are strong.

The 2013 model, which is base priced at $45,945, ups the ante with fresh exterior styling, an enhanced interior, and a longer list of safety and technology features. It's available in front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive ($2,000 extra), and can be configured to accommodate seven or eight passengers.

"Acadia is the best execution on the market of the third-row seat," said Roger McCormack, director of Buick and GMC product marketing.

Access to the third row is convenient with GM's Smart Slide system. Entry space is created with a pull of a lever, allowing the second-row cushion to flip up while the seatback slides forward. Smart Slide also allows the second-row seat to be adjusted fore and aft.

Storage capacity behind the third-row seat is 24.1 cubic feet, and can be expanded with second-row seats folded to 115.9 cu.-ft., and a power liftgate adds to loading convenience.

Seats are upholstered in perforated leather, featuring French stitching available in Ebony or Denali-specific Cocoa Dune color. Front seats are eight-way power adjustable, heated and cooled.

The power tilt/telescopic steering wheel is leather-wrapped and accented with mahogany inserts. The Denali is adorned with distinctive aluminum trim and features footwell accent lighting and illuminated front sill plates with the Denali logo. Standard is a Dual SKyScape sunroof system with a power-sliding front sunroof and rear fixed glass.

Passengers also are pampered with automatic tri-zone climate control, along with a Bose premium 10-speaker system with rear-seat audio controls and headphone jacks. A rear-seat entertainment system is available on the Denali, packaged with either Color Touch Radio with IntelliLink ($1,445) or Color Touch Navigation with IntelliLink ($2,240). The rear-seat entertainment system includes a rear-seat DVD player with remote control, overhead display, Bose 5.1 surround sound system with 10 speakers and two sets of wireless headphones.

IntelliLink allows the integration of online services, such as Pandora Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio using hands-free voice and touchscreen controls through Bluetooth-enabled phones. Sirius Satellite Radio and OnStar with Directions and Connections are standard. Passenger safety features include seven airbags, Side Blind Zone and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Those on board benefit from an exceptionally comfortable ride and a Denali-exclusive interior acoustic package. Exterior noise is quelled and the sound of the 3.6-liter V-6 barely is discernible.

The six, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, propels the Acadia Denali with 288 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 270 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,400 rpm. It provides ample power for city driving and highway cruising and has a respectable towing maximum of 5,200 pounds. Estimated fuel economy is 17 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway on front-wheel-drive models, and all-wheel drive comes at a 1-mpg sacrifice in city and highway driving.

Power is sent to standard six-split-spoke machined-aluminum wheels. The Denali also is distinguished by a signature "three-dimensional" polished grille, distinctive front fascia, body-colored lower cladding and rocker moldings, satin-chrome-accented body-side moldings, rear spoiler and dual flow-through chrome exhaust outlets integrated into the rear fascia. High-intensity-discharge headlamps are standard.

With its long list of comfort and convenience extras, GMC's upgraded Acadia Denali stands out among its siblings and makes a strong statement in the luxury-crossover segment.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 GMC ACADIA DENALI

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 7/8-passenger FWD CUV

BASE PRICE___________________ $45,945

MOTOR TYPE__________________ 24-valve DOHC V-6 w/DI

DISPLACEMENT________________3.6-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 288 at 6300 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 270 at 3400 rpm

TRANSMISSION________________ 6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH______________ 200.8 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___40.4 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________4,656 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 22 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway