GMC Acadia SLT vs Denali – What’s The Difference?

Getting to know what each trim level offers is one of the many steps to help you decide your next vehicle purchase. If you are considering a GMC Acadia and wonder what the difference is between the SLT and the Denali trims, we can help you. We researched the GMC Acadia from multiple professional sources so that you'll know for certain how these two trim levels differ.

There are several differences between the GMC Acadia SLT and Denali trim levels. The primary differences are:

  • Engine and performance
  • Interior features
  • Exterior style
  • Sticker price

Now that we know the base differences between the Acadia SLT and Denali trim levels, we'll take a closer look at how these two trims differ. You might also be curious what "Denali" means when used by GMC or how much it would cost to buy a fully loaded GMC Acadia Denali. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what we've uncovered in our research.

A GMC Acadia emblem on the grill, GMC Acadia SLT Vs Denali: What's The Difference?

Comparing The Acadia SLT And Denali

The SLT is the mid-tier trim level for the Acadia, while the Denali is of premium class. While both trim levels offer optimal comfort and safety, there are numerous differences between them.

Here, we'll look more carefully at the differences we listed earlier in this post.

A white GMC Acadia at a car show

Engine And Performance

The SLT comes standard with a 2.0L Turbo In-line 4-cylinder engine. This engine is capable of 230 horsepower and 258-foot pounds of torque. It has a maximum payload capacity of 1,794 pounds and a maximum towing capacity of 4,000 pounds.

The Denali trim level is equipped with a 3.6L V6 engine, capable of 310 horsepower and 271-foot pounds of torque. This gives it a total payload capacity of 1,794 pounds and a maximum towing capacity of 4,000 pounds.

Interior Features

On the inside of each trim level, you'll see plenty of standard features that optimize comfort, safety, and utility. But the top-tier Denali outshines the mid-tier SLT in this category.

Let's look first at the standard features of the SLT, then compare them to what is added to the Denali trim level.

SLT Standard Onboard Features

  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Premium sound system
  • Satellite radio
  • Smart device integration
  • WiFi hotspot
  • Auxiliary input
  • MP3 player
  • Leather seats
  • Navigation system
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Powered liftgate
  • Climate control
  • Heated seats/steering
  • Keyless entry
  • Remote engine start
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Infotainment system with an 8-inch display screen

Denali Standard Onboard Features

The Denali trim level includes all of the above, plus these additional features:

  • Head-Up display
  • Cooled front seats
  • Powered passenger seat
  • Memory seating

Exterior Style

The outside of the SLT and the Denali are quite similar in appearance. Each has body-colored bumpers, mirrors, and spoilers, as well as the addition of chrome grills and exhaust tips.

The SLT has aluminum roof rails, in contrast to the chrome ones on the Denali. The wheels on the SLT are painted aluminum, while the Denali has polished ones.

Sticker Price

With all of the differences in standard features between these two trim levels, it is probably no surprise that there is quite a bit of room between the price tags on both.

The SLT has a starting sticker price of $39,245, while the Denali's price begins at $46,250. Upgrading the engine, selecting a premium paint color, and adding packages to either trim level will increase their cost.

What Does Denali Mean On GMC Acadia?

Automakers occasionally name their trim levels to honor a location that they hold in high regard. That is the case with GMC and the Denali trim level name, referencing a particular mountain peak.

The word Denali (originally spelled Deenaalee) is a word taken from the language of the Athabascan people of what is now modern-day Alaska. The word translates to mean "the high one," meaning the highest peak in Alaska.

You might know it by Mount McKinley, which it was officially called from 1896 until 2015. It has been known both formally and informally as Mt. Denali since then.

Wanting to brand that referenced the rugged beauty and strength that they felt their top-tier trim levels required, GMC began using Denali for the names of the highest-class trims for not only the Acadia but for the Sierra and Canyon trucks and the Terrain and Yukon SUVs.

A long path leading to Mount McKinley in Alaska

What Does SLT Stand For On GMC?

The letters "SLT" signify what trim level you are driving and are more than randomly assigned consonants. Instead, they have abbreviated forms of what the automakers feel any particular trim level offers. GMC has several Acadia, beginning with the base model trim SL (discontinued after the 2021 model year).

SL is an abbreviated form of "Special Luxury." The next trim up is the SLE, or "Special Luxury Edition." Right in the middle is the SLT, which stands for "Special Luxury Touring."

The GMC Acadia trim level is built for longer drives, packing in many amenities and creature comforts that the base models do not have.

With comfortable seating, a roomy interior, and safety features that go above and beyond many others in this class, the SLT more than provides a luxury touring experience.

Motor car GMC Acadia in the city street

What Is The Most Expensive GMC Acadia?

The most expensive GMC Acadia is the top-tier trim level Denali. The base sticker price for this trim level is $46,250. As we'll outline in this post, you will have multiple packages and additional features to add to this price should you opt for upgrades.

How does the Acadia Denali compare to the other trim levels regarding pricing?

After dropping the SE, the base trim level for the Acadia is the SLE. This vehicle has a starting sticker price of $34,945. The next trim level is the mid-tier SLT, which starts at $39,245 for the 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine or $39,740 when equipped with the 3.6L V6.

Finally, we have the AT-4, Acadia's off-road SUV. The starting sticker price for this trim level is $41,945.

How Much Does A GMC Denali Cost Fully Loaded?

With so many great comfort and safety features already on board the Denali trim level, you wouldn't think that there'd be room to have any add-ons.

But with the base model Denali giving you an engine option above and beyond the 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder that comes standard, you'll see that there is plenty that can be added to the overall price tag.

Opt for the 3.6L V-6 engine, and you'll increase the MSRP by another $595. Next, if you want any color other than the standard white, expect to pay anywhere from $495 to $1,095 more for premium paint and coatings.

GMC SUV display at a Buick GMC dealership. GMC focuses on upscale trucks and utility vehicles and is a division of GM

Then, you'll need to decide which packages you want to add to your Denali. There are a total of four featured packages/editions, as well as six optional packages. The four featured packages range from $650 to $4,145, while the optional packages range from $165 to $925.

Equipping your Acadia Denali to a Black Diamond Edition with the V-6 engine and then adding the Hit the Road, Cargo, and Roadside Safety packages take your base price to $52,685.

This is considered fully loaded. Of course, you can always spend more by upgrading the wheels, adding dozens of onboard accessories, and getting custom paint.

To Wrap Up

A GMC Acadia emblem on the grill

The Acadia offers consumers a lot of comfort and luxury with both the SLT and the Denali trim levels. The Denali will offer a more powerful engine and more onboard the vehicle for the money.

Carefully analyzing your needs for a vehicle and knowing what your budget can afford are the two critical components to finalizing your car buying decision. Drive safe!

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related GMC posts below!

What's The Best Oil and Oil Filter for a GMC Acadia?

How Long Does A GMC Acadia Last?

Can a GMC Acadia Tow a Camper?

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