Interior view of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali.

Frequently making trips to the airport to pick up relatives and their copious amounts of luggage? The redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia Denali may be a good option, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.

Considering moving away from a sedan toward a sport utility vehicle? There’s a plethora of choices out there and it will be a challenge to know where to start.

Some SUVs are based on a truck platform while others are based on a passenger car. This will make a big difference in how the vehicle rides, both on city streets and on the freeway. Some truck-based platforms have a distinctive ride that offers a “kick” or “bounce” so indicative of a truck. Sedan-based platforms offer the smoother, passenger car-like ride. Not everyone might consider that distinction when weighing the options.

Other options to consider are vehicle size and if it will be used to go off road frequently, or will be used mostly to ply city streets. If you have big dogs or are frequently making trips to the airport to pick up relatives and their copious amounts of luggage, an SUV with a third row of seats might be a viable option.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is a mid-sized SUV with that third row of seats. Both the Acadia and its upscale Denali version have been redesigned for this model year and in the process the vehicle becomes 700 pounds lighter, 7.2 inches shorter, 3.5 inches narrower and 6.6 inches shorter in height. While it loses a bit in the way of passenger and cargo space, it gains in improved maneuverability. Unlike other SUVs, the third row of seats is a standard feature. It’s not available on the All-Terrain model, however.

Exterior view of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali.

If you’re in the hunt for an off-roading vehicle, it should be noted that Acadias are really best for light off-roading adventures.

Many Acadias are equipped with a standard V6 engine, but GMC’s newly designed four-cylinder engine is just as powerful and fuel-efficient. Models are available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

We had the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali version for our test drive. It offered an interior that mimics GMC’s truck layout, with simple controls and accommodating seats. It’s easy to get into and out of the vehicle, which is a bonus for shorter drivers.

Behind the wheel, I found that visibility out the front, especially to the right-hand side, was limited because of the angle of the windshield and large A pillars. Large side view mirrors might also be a hindrance for smaller or shorter drivers. Once under way, however, I found the Acadia offered a smooth ride, easy maneuverability in tight parking spaces and lots, and quick acceleration onto the freeway.

Seats in all front and second rows are comfortable and accommodating. Space is a little tight in the third row, and when these seats are not in use, they fold in a 50/50 configuration and flatten down.

An expanded package of top-flight safety features include Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Automatic Braking, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Following Distance Indicator, Automatic Headlamp High Beam Control, Surround Vision Camera, Rear Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Exterior view of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali.

The 2017 GMC Acadia also has a Rear Seat Reminder. This handy chime is a reminder for drivers remember to check the rear seat before leaving the vehicle. It doesn’t actually detect objects in the rear seat, but it works by monitoring Acadia’s rear doors. If either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is running, the feature is intended to activate.

Other advanced technology includes advanced connectivity, including phone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto through the GMC IntelliLink System, OnStar 4G, a Wi-Fi hotspot and USB charge ports in all three rows.

Exterior view of the 2017 GMC Acadia Denali.

The redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia Denali may be a good option for those with mixed needs. It’s right sized, versatile in its seating and cargo options, and offers a smooth, powerful ride along city and suburban streets.