Test Drive: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali   Ottawa to the Chicago Auto Show car test drives reviews gmc auto articles
2011 GMC Acadia Denali. Click image to enlarge

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2011 GMC Acadia

Ottawa, Ontario – It was -25 degrees Celsius with a strong wind blowing in Chicago. A walk outside was short lived and I felt housebound at the hotel located in the River North district, a $10 cab ride from McCormick Place where the annual Chicago International Auto Show takes place.

This year, the Chicago show was all about performance as Chevrolet revealed the 2012 supercharged 6.2-litre Camaro ZL1, Dodge displayed its 2012 6.4-litre HEMI Charger and Shelby showed a powerful duo of 2012 Mustangs. Volkswagen took the wraps off the sporty 2012 Jetta GLS, while Hyundai introduced an updated and more powerful Genesis sedan. For an auto show that normally showcases new truck products, there was very little. But Dodge told everyone that it wouldn’t be left behind in the Heavy Duty truck wars, as it rolled out the 2012 Cummins diesel, featuring 800 lb.-ft. of torque, that will power its most powerful 2500 and 3500 HD trucks. Only with Acura’s revamped 2012 TL reveal was the emphasis on style rather than power.

It may have been cold in Chicago, but at least it was not the 100 centimetres of snow that shut the city down the week before and stranded commuters in their cars, buried in huge drifts of snow and waiting hours for rescue by snowmobile equipped firefighters.

Test Drive: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali   Ottawa to the Chicago Auto Show car test drives reviews gmc auto articles
2011 GMC Acadia Denali. Click image to enlarge

Getting there requires a different kind of power than that on display at the Chicago auto show. The risk of severe weather is the chance you take when you drive from Ottawa to Chicago in February. It is 1,300 kilometres from Ottawa, Ontario to the middle of the continent and challenging weather is a guaranteed certainty. For this journey one needs the power to overcome Mother Nature.

That power came in the form of the upscale Denali version of the GMC Acadia, a new trim line for the 2011 model year. The Acadia is available in two cloth trims and two leather trims, with both front- and all-wheel-drive, and the ultimate Denali trim with all-wheel-drive.

The GMC Acadia has a base price of $38,090 before discounts, incentives – GM’s web site lists $3,200 in discounts – and destination charges ($1,450) and taxes. Standard equipment includes a 288 hp 3.6-litre engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, cloth interior, cruise control, power windows and doors, driver information centre with service interval warning, manual air conditioning with separate rear controls, manually adjustable seats and eight passenger (2nd row rear bench) seating and six-speaker audio with satellite radio, single CD player and MP3 decoder.

Test Drive: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali   Ottawa to the Chicago Auto Show car test drives reviews gmc auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali   Ottawa to the Chicago Auto Show car test drives reviews gmc auto articles
2011 GMC Acadia Denali. Click image to enlarge

The Denali takes the comfort level to a much higher level with a Bose premium audio system and 10 speakers, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, rear cargo area audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity. Wheels are 20-inch chrome clad aluminum with black chrome inserts. There is a dual sun roof with power tilt and sliding front and fixed rear portions. Headlights are HID projector low beams and halogen high beams, while fog lights are standard. The lift gate is powered and the door handles chrome. A trailer towing package is also included allowing the Denali to tow up to 2,364 kg (5,200 lb).

Specific Denali exterior trim includes unique lower front and rear fascias, body-coloured lower cladding, rocker mouldings, rear fascia and fender flares, unique body side mouldings with chrome accents and Denali badges and dual chrome exhaust tips.

Interior luxury features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mahogany inserts, wood grain finish on the instrument panel and centre stack, perforated leather seats with matching leather door panel trim, heated and cooled driver and front passenger seats, enhanced accent lighting, chrome, lighted sill plates with the Denali logo, improved sound deadening materials, head-up display, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, rear parking sensors and back-up camera integrated in the rear-view mirror. In the second row there are two captain’s chairs and a third-row bench split 60/40.

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