It was a rainy day, but that didn’t make me any less excited to get behind the wheel of one of the newest GMC SUVs. When I arrived at Thompson Buick GMC I received a warm welcome from the sales team and immediately set off on a test driving journey in a 2017 GMC Acadia.

Ready to get started? Buckle up for my first impressions.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali: What This Mid-Size SUV Has to Offer

Color: Bright blue and polished

Size: Perfectly mid-size

Appearance: Bold and confident

Our sales consultant told us that this particular model was a Denali trim, meaning it was packed full of top-of-the-line features — which was apparent the moment I sat down in the driver’s seat.

Not only were the perforated leather-appointed seats comfortable, but it was also easy to change them to my preferred settings. Once I positioned my seat where I needed it, it was time to explore the interior.


One of the first things I noticed was the soft touch materials. Everything from the gear shift to the steering wheel could only be described as feeling “buttery,” as they were satisfyingly smooth to the touch. In addition to providing the utmost comfort, the interior of the Acadia was visually stunning. Real aluminum trim accents paired perfectly with the Cocoa/Shale color of the seats, while an 8-inch color touch radio glowed softly from the center of the dashboard.

Next, we explored what the Acadia offered behind the driver’s seat. The model we test drove had seating for six, featuring second-row bucket seats with a center pass through. And if you need extra room for cargo? No problem — the second and third rows fold completely flat for a maximum storage capacity of 79 cubic feet.

The interior of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali

After we got settled, our guide gave us a quick tutorial of Apple CarPlay™ — something I’ve never seen in action before.

What you need:

  1. A compatible iPhone
  2. An Apple USB cable

How it works:

  1. Plug your cable into the USB port
  2. Connect your iPhone
  3. Select the icon for Apple CarPlay™ on your vehicle’s touchscreen
  4. Unlock your iPhone
  5. Explore your apps

Close up of a dashboard with Apple Carplay™

With that set up, it was time to throw the car into gear and officially begin the driving portion of the test drive.


I’ve driven a few SUVs before, but nothing feels quite like the Acadia. What stood out to me the most was the handling. It felt like I was driving a much smaller vehicle, even though I had just examined the ample interior space with my own eyes. Navigating the narrow lanes of Raleigh, North Carolina, was easy with the GMC’s smooth driving dynamics.

And then we hit the highway — but not before I switched the Drive Mode Selector into Sport mode.

The Drive Mode Selector is featured in the Denali trim, but it’s an available option on other configurations, too. This system offers five available modes:

  • All-Wheel Drive
  • Off-Road
  • Snow
  • Sport
  • Trailer/Tow

Once in Sport mode, I put the Acadia’s 310-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine to the acceleration test. While I couldn’t time the number of seconds from 0-60 for safety reasons, the power under the hood was undeniable — which had me marveling, again, at the fact that I was driving an SUV. There was no lag, there was no drag, there was only responsive power.

As I drove, I was surprised by the absence of what I’m used to hearing in other cars: noise. Thanks to the active noise cancellation in the cabin, there were no overpowering engine sounds or road noise as we cruised down the highway.

To enhance the fun of our drive, we decided to test out the sound system that comes in the Acadia Denali — a Bose® premium 8-speaker system. Since we’d already tested Apple CarPlay™, we decided to try syncing to the available Bluetooth®. Once connected, the sound that came through the speakers was crisp, clear, and powerful.  

Close up of the Bose® label on a speaker


The Denali comes loaded with a plethora of assistive technology meant to keep you safe and make your drive more convenient — and I got to test out a few of them

One of the features I was most excited to test was the Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, and I got my chance on the highway. This feature works by displaying a symbol in the corner of your side mirrors when a vehicle is in your blind spot, letting you know it’s not safe to change lanes. While you should always remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, I found that the system worked flawlessly in alerting me to cars I couldn’t immediately see in my mirrors.

I didn’t get to test any other features until we returned to the dealership, where I was challenged to back the Acadia into its designated spot. In all honesty, I was nervous. Although mid-size, the Acadia is still an SUV, and there were two much larger SUVs on either side. But I soon realized I didn’t need to be worried because I had the help of a Rear Vision Camera, Safety Alert Seat, and Rear Park Assist. With the combined assistance of these three technologies, I didn’t even need to straighten out once I’d finished parking.

But how exactly did they help me?

While the Rear Vision Camera gave me a clear view of what was behind me, the Rear Park Assist alerted me to my distance from object with haptic seat-bottomed vibration pulses from the GM-patented Safety Alert Seat.

Once the car was safely stopped and turned off, I opened my door and an alert appeared on the touchscreen reminding me to check the second row. This new feature is called the Rear Seat Reminder, and when triggered it emits five chimes and a written message in the driver information center. This feature can help remind you to check for children, pets, and other valuables.

While this system isn’t designed to detect specific objects in the back seat, the reminder is triggered if either rear door is opened and closed:

  • When the vehicle is running
  • Within ten minutes of starting the vehicle

Final Thoughts

Overall, the 2017 GMC Acadia is an excellent option for those seeking a high-quality and versatile mid-size SUV. The smooth drive, spacious seating, and wide variety of available options make it a standout in my book.

Find Your 2017 GMC Acadia at Thompson Buick GMC

There’s a lot to be had when you choose the 2017 GMC Acadia — even if you don’t opt for the Denali trim. The following features are standard on every Acadia:

  • Rear Vision Camera
  • StabiliTrak® with traction control
  • Keyless open and start
  • Bluetooth® wireless technology

Find a trim that fits your needs at Thompson Buick GMC in Raleigh, North Carolina. Contact one of their expert sales representatives for more information.