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The GMC Acadia is assembled in Spring Hill, Tenn.
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The GMC Acadia's interior is well appointed and comfortable.

Dear GMC: Please, please turn the chrome-plated grille on your Acadia Denali into a pop-off snowboard. It's the perfect shape and size.

Then, we suggest you hire U.S. Olympic snowboarder Shaun White to be your pitchman, just as Ford has made actor Matthew McConaughey the face of Lincoln.

Why?

The GMC Acadia, assembled over in Spring Hill, Tenn., is a highly-evolved example of competence and comfort. But it could use a promotional push and the snowboard thing would be an excellent publicity stunt.

The Acadia is quiet, powerful, handsome SUV big enough to carry seven passengers — six in Denali trim. It's a fitting reflection of the affluent suburban enclaves south of Nashville where it is assembled at GM's old Saturn plant, which has been retooled to make the Acadia and the mechanically similar Cadillac XT5.

Our GMC Acadia Denali tester is already two layers of bling above the three-row Chevrolet Traverse SUV, which doesn't leave much room at the top of the heap for the Caddy.

Fast facts


-Model: 2017 Acadia Denali AWD

-Exterior color: Crimson Red Tint-coat

-Interior color: Cocoa/Shale

-Engine: 3.6-liter, V-6

-Horsepower: 310

-Transmission: six-speed automatic

-Fuel economy: 25 mpg highway, 18 mpg city

-Local Dealer: Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac

-Price (as tested): $52,485

The Acadia Denali AWD has a base price of $47,070. Our tester adds $4,490 worth of options. With the $925 destination fee tacked on, the bottom line price is $52,485. An entry-level Acadia, meanwhile, sells for $29,070.

Fuel economy on our all-wheel-drive tester is estimated at 25 mpg highway and 18 mpg city.

Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac here has 18 Acadias in digital inventory this week, including five in Denali trim.

STYLING AND FEATURES

Redesigned for 2017, the Acadia is 7.2 inches shorter and 653 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. The downsizing actually makes the Acadia much more maneuverable. The new, more svelte model will fit easily in any suburban garage and doesn't require you to head to the perimeter of the parking lot at the mall, like some full-size SUVs.

Our Crimson Red Tintcoat tester cuts a handsome profile. That big grille blends into a sculpted hood, and a rakish roofline adds to the new Acadia's sportier appearance. Spears of chrome just above each rocker panel add visual interest and help draw the eyes to stylish, 20-inch, polished aluminum wheels.

Roof rails bracket a "dual skyscape" sunroof, which is a $1,400 upgrade. A continuously variable damping system adds another $1,200 to the bottom line. It adjusts shock firmness to road conditions, making for a more comfortable ride.

Standard equipment on the GMC Acadia Denali includes a 3.6-liter, V-6 engine; a trailering package; the 20-inch wheels, an 8-way adjustable driver's seat, a power lift gate, an 8-inch touch screen, tri-zone air conditioning, leather seats and Bose premium audio.

The interior of the Acadia is rich in soft surfaces and high-quality materials. Everywhere your hand touches surfaces are nicely padded. The four-spoke steering wheel is big and beefy, and the 8-inch touch-screen channels a navigation system, Apple Carplay and Andriod Auto. A 4G LTE hotspot is available through a subscription service.

The Acadia boasts five-star safety ratings in front, side and over-all crash testing. It has 13 cubic feet of space in the cargo compartment with all three rows of seats upright — enough for a weekend trip to Food City — and 42 cubic feet of space with the third row folded down, enough room for anybody's trip to Sam's Club.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

One of the Acadia's best traits is its powerful and smooth drivetrain. The direct-injection V-6 engine makes 310 horsepower and moves the big SUV from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.1 seconds.

A six-speed automatic seems a little old school, but honestly, the new eight- and 10-speed trannies on other models add mechanical complexity for modest gains in fuel economy. The GMC's six-speed works just fine.

The Acadia zipped up and down our mountains during daily commutes, and easily navigated tight spaces in the morning and afternoon car lines at our sons' schools.

On the open road, the Acadia exhibits the smooth ride and command seating that are the main selling points of today's cross-over SUVs.

BOTTOM LINE

The Acadia, in top-of-the-line Denali trim, is one of the most comfortable and stylish family SUVs on the market. In all-wheel-drive configuration, it's an all-weather family hauler that will be at home in a January snowstorm or on a July trip to the beach.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

 

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