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2014 GMC Acadia Denali - A great family hauler and 'Jack-of-all-trades'

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2014 GMC Acadia Denali SUV

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After spending a few days test driving the new GMC Acadia, this 8-passenger SUV can handle it all - it can literally do anything and everything you and your family could ever ask for in a family-friendly cross over sports utility vehicle. And although the Acadia shares most of its body, powertrain and suspension with the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave, GMC has given its 8-passenger SUV a bit of an edge. When compared to the Enclave, for example, the Acadia's styling is a bit more practical than ritzy - yet with its signature bold grille reminiscent of GMC's truck line and a new, more aggressive front end, the Acadia makes its own statement in an intrepid way.

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The Acadia is best suited for paved roads, and its 4-wheel independent suspension and uni-body construction help to provide a comfortable ride in nearly every driving condition. Both front-wheel (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) models are offered. When equipped, the all-wheel-drive system runs at 90% power to the front wheels, 10% to the rear, but when things get slick it shifts more traction to the rear wheels.

In addition to its spacious interior, the Acadia earns high marks for its straightforward cockpit, with soft-touch materials, French stitching, and red ambient lighting. The most expensive Denali version gets aluminum door, dash and center console trim.

The Acadia comes in three distinct trim levels: SLE, SLT and Denali. All come standard with three rows of seating for either seven or eight passengers. In 7-passenger models, two captain's chairs are equipped in the second row, while 8-passenger models feature a 60/40 split folding bench seat in the second row. With all rear seats folded down, cargo capacity is an impressive 117 cubic feet.

A 3.6 liter, 288 hp V-6 powerplant with 270 ft-lb of torque is more than sufficient to zip all Acadias with ease and brawny enough for just about any type of work you want to perform in it. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, and front-drive models are able to dispense 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models are able to give you 16 and 23 mpg respectively. All Acadia models are capable of towing up to 5,200 pounds when properly equipped.

In 2014, the Acadia focuses on safety with the addition of Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, crash-avoidance systems that use a camera and sensors to help detect when the driver is getting too close to a vehicle ahead, or when the vehicle enters another lane without the use of a turn signal. The systems alert the driver with visual cues on the dashboard, as well as audible signals. They complement Side Blind Zone Alert and Cross Traffic Alert, which were added in 2013. The new model year also brings an additional convenience feature: two charging-only USB ports on the rear of the center console to power up electronics from the second row.

Standard features on the SLE include remote keyless entry, daytime LED running lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, power mirrors, windows and door locks, air conditioning, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a 6.5" color touch screen with audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, a 6-speaker stereo, rear park assist, rear camera and more. SLT models add amenities such as 19-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat, automatic tri-zone climate control, a Bose 10-speaker stereo system, heated front seats and a side blind spot alert. Finally, the top-of-the-line Denali offers 20-inch alloys, satin chrome accents, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, heated and cooled front seats, leather seating in the first two rows, a head-up display that projects driver information such as speed, RPM, audio selection and more on the lower windshield and a 2-panel power sunroof. It also adds Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning as newly standard for 2014. A Technology Package for SLT models includes the head-up display, HID headlights and rear cargo area audio controls, a favorite for tailgating.

All Acadias offer incredible standard safety features such as StabiliTrak, a tire-pressure monitor, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and OnStar. SLE models are equipped with six airbags, while SLT and Denali models include a seventh, the industry-first front center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger from the inboard side of the driver's seat.

In this highly competitive segment, the Acadia stands as one of the best cross over SUV in the market. Elegant, friendly, intuitive, nimble and comfortable -- what else can you ask for in a family 8-passenger SUV!

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