My test 2011 GMC Acadia Denali cost $50k and came with every optional available from GM. The chrome billet grill and trim makes this a classically attractive SUV with a long list of comforts.
However, is it better than the 2011 GMC Yukon Hybrid that starts at $51,185.00 (before a $2,200 tax credit)? Both are good picks for those who can afford them and want to carry 7-8 passengers. Both are good picks when wanting to tow a trailer.
Both are good picks when getting into snow and ice and mud. So what makes the newer Acadia a better pick?
A new Denali GMC Acadia gives luxury and exclusivity to the crossover segment. People are starting to buy the Acadia in higher numbers- Acadia sales were up nearly 45 percent in the first quarter of 2010.
This unibody crossover now comes with mahogany wood, perforated leather seats, bun-warmers and coolers, laminated glass and liquid applied sound deadeners, dual "SkyScape" sunroof, head-up display (HUD), automatic climate control, navigation, XM NavTraffic, DVD entertainment system, and much more.
All of this comes in a mid-size package and fits in a garage with room left for opening doors.
The 2011 Acadia Denali AWD estimates are 16/23 mpg with GM's new 3.6-liter V-6 direct-injection engine and 6-speed transmission. However, all of these amenities add weight to the Acadia Denali.
I averaged just 19.6 miles per gallon on a 600 mile round trip to San Francisco while averaging 72 mph. Compare this to the 2011 Yukon Hybrid with a V8/electric powertrain estimated at 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on a trip like mine.
Even the standard Yukon 5.3 liter V8 can get 21 mpg in 2 or 4-wheel drive. The Yukon seats up to eight and can tow up to 6,200 pounds.
Furthermore, the hybrid uses an electric drive up to 30 mph which is saving fuel and emissions, even when towing a trailer.
For affordability, GM has developed some fuel efficient SUV/Crossovers like the Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Chevy Traverse FWD models. These come highly equipped, cost $30-$35k, and average 25 mpg on regular fuel. But when the content of luxury and equipment approaches the Acadia Denali price-point and mileage, the full-frame SUV hybrids seem to be a better purchase.
The Yukon is a few inches longer, wider, and taller. Yet, the 2010 Yukon Hybrid starts a few thousand dollars less and gets up to 20% better fuel mileage. Bottom line, all GMC sport-ute vehicles will get the job done and with a great amount of comfort and capability.