The midsize SUV is alive and well and thriving at GMC! That’s my takeaway after spending a week in the hot-off-the-presses GMC Acadia Denali.

The Denali is the top of the line luxury version of GMC’s midsize hauler, although I have to caution you that midsize, as applied to the Acadia Denali, is pretty big at 200.8 inches in length. The Acadia is the GMC version of Chevy’s Traverse, or the Buick Enclave, which are both excellent family haulers. GM gives the Acadia a refresh for 2013 with a new grille, headlights, led surrounds and exterior appointments. Along with the 20 inch chrome wheels and tires, it makes the Acadia a very attractive and distinct looking vehicle.

Slip into the Acadia Denali and you are struck immediately with how roomy it is inside. It feels almost Yukon-ish with plenty of room in any of the three rows of seats. There is also plenty of ease of access to that third row with the second row of captain chairs. The panoramic sunroof is a big plus on this model giving the kids a chance to see a little nature instead of staring at their iPads or videos on long trips. Materials have been upgraded and are among the best in the class and the Denali also gets cool ambient lighting!

The Acadia gets the GM Intellilink entertainment system with Stitcher and Pandora capability voice command, and Bose speakers, and maybe one of my favorite things: It can all be controlled from a pod of switches near the tailgate making the Acadia Denali a very groovy accessory for that tailgate party!

Safety is also a big factor in the Acadia as it comes with a number of improvements including a cross-traffic detecting back-up camera.

Under the hood the Acadia gets one choice, a 288 horsepower direct injection V6 that is adequate to move the Acadia through traffic. Add the all-wheel drive and the six-speed transmission and you won’t go darting through traffic, but with a tow rating of 5,500 pounds it will get that boat up the mountain and to the lake with ease.

Four-wheel independent suspension and dual flow shocks give the Acadia nice handling characteristics on winding roads and bad weather conditions. It has solid behavior through the curves. While not car-like, it is above average for the class.

The price tag on the Acadia Denali I drove, which was loaded, was $47,495, which puts it into the luxury class where it holds its own quite well. Gas mileage comes in at 16 city and 23 highway according to GMC. In my testing, I averaged a combined 18 miles per gallon. The Acadia gets top safety ratings including five stars from the Federal Government.

Don’t let the three initials fool you. This is as car-comfortable an SUV as you can find out there. With superior handling, the ability to pull a house, excellent attention to detail and chiseled good looks, the Acadia Denali sits at the top of its class and gives you big SUV comfort in a smaller package.

For more information: http://www.gmc.com/denali-luxury-trucks.html.

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