AMARILLO, Tex. -- On a road trip we're cruising the I-40 across the Texas prairie in the biggest, glitziest and most luxurious crossover utility vehicle ever to wear the block-letter GMC badge: It's the 2016 Acadia in super-luxe Denali trim from the GMC Truck Division of General Motors.
This full-size 5-door CUV, stretching almost 17 feet long and six feet wide, provides an enormous passenger compartment fitted with three rows of seats for seven or eight riders plus a wagonload of luxurious fittings and high-tech electronics.
The Denali tag -- drawn from the language of Alaska Athabascan people meaning "the High One" of Mt. McKinley, tallest peak on the North America continent -- represents the top edition of Acadia in a leather-lined issue rolling on 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels.
The Denali designation for GMC vehicles traces back to 1998 on a tricked-up version of the full-size Yukon SUV, but the Denali trim variation for the 2016 Acadia stands out with a sophisticated monochromatic color scheme in new tints like Ebony Twilight Metallic and White Frost Tricoat.
Focal point is the bold front-end carved in edgy lines of a sculpted block with a sharp rake to the windshield and a stepped power dome hood, a dominant forward-thrusting front grille with 3-bar chrome slabs and oversized corner headlamp clusters with LED daytime running lights and xenon high intensity discharge headlamps.
From side view Acadia carries round-arch fender flares over the front and rear wheels, muted roof pillars which blend with the tinted window glass and polished aluminum rails on the roof.
The Denali trim applies unique body-colored fascias front and rear, side cladding and low rocker moldings, illuminated sill plates and two vast SkyScape roof windows -- the panel in front opens with power controls while the panel at the rear is fixed.
GMC trims the 2016 Acadia as a base-grade SL, upgraded SLE, luxe-trim SLT, and over-the-top Denali.
All versions of Acadia employ a V6 engine which displaces 3.6 liters and contains dual overhead cams, electronic throttle control, direct injection technology and variable valve timing.
The V6 in Denali trim makes 288 hp at 6300 rpm plus torque of 270 lb-ft at 3400 rpm. For non-Denali Acadia models the V6 nets 281 hp at 6300 rpm with 266 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm.
Sole transmission is GM's fuel-saving Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed automatic.
Every Enclave has an integral body-frame structure which compares to a front-wheel-drive car rather than a SUV's rear-wheel-drive body-on-frame truck platform.
Each trim edition stocks electronic traction control and GM's electronic stability device, StabiliTrak, which also ties to GM's rollover sensing system, dubbed rollover mitigation technology.
Also, Acadia brings standard front-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive traction.
Acadia's passenger compartment has room for three rows of seats and a rear bay for cargo.
On the first row two wide buckets flank a floor console. On the second row the standard configuration is a sliding bench to accommodate three passengers, although top trim versions also offer two captain's chairs which slide to and fro. On the third row, a folding bench split 60/40 can squeeze up to three additional riders aboard. Access to the back bench is aided by extra width of the two rear portals plus second-row seats which move out of the way easily, thanks to a one-tap lever labeled Smart Slide.
Big Acadia brings big room for cargo. With the back bench in place, a flat-floored cargo bay has 24.1 cubic feet of stow room. With the back bench folded down, the bay expands to 70.1 cubic feet, but with second and third tiers of seats down, the bay engulfs 116.1 cubic feet.
All Acadia 2016 models stock OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. This equipment turns the Acadia cabin into a mobile hub for driver and riders to stay connected with up to seven personal devices. The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on and it comes with a 3-month/3-gig data trial, after which more data may be purchased.
We estimate the MSRPs for GMC's 2016 Acadia line will stretch from $35,490 to $49,890.