EXTERIOR

The Acadia Denali can be compared to your favorite pair of jeans. It looks great, flatters your features and is durable enough to stand up to the day-to-day rigors of real life.

Fog lights and dual exhaust pipes add style to punctuate both the front and rear. They also help diminish the mommy-mobile flag flying from the antenna. A true jack-of-all-trades, the Acadia Denali comes with optional all-wheel drive and an available tow hitch, helping to increase the Acadia's masculine appeal while adding even more functionality.

Size was a slight issue with Acadia Denali because I'm short — so are my kids — so climbing in and out took some effort. The doors were cumbersome and heavy, which made them difficult for my 5-year-old to operate. To be fair, the size of the doors can also be a bonus since the second-row doors are wider than average, which creates more space to manipulate those bulky child-safety seats and unruly toddlers. However, the combination of the sizable step-in height and heavy doors could make this crossover difficult to get in and out for older folks.

With such heavy doors, I was happy that the Denali had a power liftgate. I wasn't thrilled with the cargo space, however. With the third row up, I found myself wanting more cargo area. I could get my groceries loaded two-bags deep, but most grocery trips require more cargo room than the Denali offered. Yes, the third row can be folded flat, but if your kids regularly use it, you'll need to move any third-row car seats and kid debris before each shopping trip. Yuk! My solution was to drop only one of the third-row seats, which gave me more room, but did not disrupt the car seat I had back there.

The Acadia Denali has a 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine that uses regular gas. The all-wheel-drive Acadia gets an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway. Choosing a front-wheel-drive version improves gas mileage to 17/24 mpg. I averaged just over 16 mpg during my weeklong test drive, which included mostly city driving. GMC needs to put some effort into making this crossover more fuel efficient.

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