2017 GMC Acadia AWD Denali: Wait, I drove this?
Price: $50,855 as tested. (A bare-bones Denali starts at $44,920, and an Acadia entry-level model begins at $29,070.)
Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "attractive exterior and interior styling," that "the cabin remains quiet and comfortable on long road trips," and that there's "plenty of engine and interior configurations to fit a variety of uses." Less desirable was that it has "less cargo capacity than some competitors."
Reality: For Gilmore Girls fans, it's like Rory's boyfriend Paul - kind of forgettable.
Hazy Acadia: Although I write most of a review when I test-drive a car, I often wait for a theme to come to me. An Acadia theme never really came, but unforgettable it's not.
For people looking for great value, the Denali trim is the bomb. Heated and cooled front seats come standard, as do heated second-row seats, always a favorite for Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0. Keyless entry and start, front pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and eight-way power front seats all came standard as well.
What's new: The midsized Acadia goes svelte for 2017, losing 700 pounds, and gets a redesign. But even the new exterior doesn't stand out from previous years.
Up to speed: The 3.6-liter V-6 creates 310 horsepower. That sounds like a bunch, but, moving a total of 3,956 pounds, hot-rodding is not the object here. Still, getting on highways can be quick.
Shifty: Like many General Motors models, the Acadia doesn't offer any shiftability. The gearshift has PRND, and changing gears is only through a button on the side of the lever.
On the road: It's been a long time since I was in the platform-mate Chevrolet Traverse, but I don't recall its handling being so uninspiring. Sure, it's a three-row minivan substitute, but it's like driving a whale.
Changing the driving setting does turn the Acadia into a slimmed-down whale - perhaps from a Beluga to more SeaWorld size.
Inside: While the Acadia is supposedly all-new for the model year, at first glance it seemed heavy on General Motors parts. The stereo, the dashboard, the trim, the heater interface - I've seen this movie before.
Play some tunes: The entertainment and navigation interface also matches the rest of many General Motors offerings.
Buttons underneath allow the navigation to stay on while switching through music sources and stations or songs. General Motors supports CarPlay, so getting all the cool stuff from your phone is easy as well.
Surprisingly, though, the Bose eight-speaker audio sound rates only a B+. Contrast this with the entry-level Chevrolet Cruze, which for 2017 got top marks for sound.
Covered in leather, the command post was soft and wide. The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat said the Acadia felt like "an old person's vehicle." I'd have to say it does - but I kind of liked it.
Friends and stuff: The third row in the Acadia is on the small side. Though headroom is not bad and legroom can be made OK if the middle row scrunches up a lot, the seat itself will still feel like a kindergartner's chair. Two adults are able to sit back there in discomfort. The middle-row seat folds far out of the way on the passenger side to make entry and exit easier.
The middle row in the test vehicle had captain's chairs, which were just OK comfort-wise. They're the kind of seats you sit on rather than in. A bench seat is available, bringing passenger numbers up to seven.
Cargo space behind the rear seats is a dismal 12.8 cubic feet, and only 79 with all the seats folded down, a little more than half the size of a minivan.
Fuel economy: I averaged 21 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver's Seat array of country and suburban roads, which is a dramatic improvement over the 2011 Traverse I tested over five years ago, which achieved just 17 mpg.
Where it's built: Spring Hill, Tenn.
How it's built: Consumer Reports expects the 2017 model to have average reliability, matching 2016's rating. But 2015 was "very good" and 2014 "poor," so it could be a challenge to predict.
In the end: As the owner of a Kia Soul and a Toyota Sienna, I understand the lure of value over heart-pounding performance and swoon-worthy looks, and the Acadia certainly delivers on it.