The first-generation GMC Acadia reached 10 years of production in 2016. If you remember, it originally launched as a 2007 model along with the Saturn Outlook, followed by the Buick Enclave (2008) and Chevy Traverse (2009). So, to say the Acadia was due for a change would be a massive understatement.
GMC stepped up to the plate and swung for the fences. I mean, this is an extreme makeover we’re seeing here. Riding on an all-new platform, the big crossover is now 7” shorter, 3” narrower, and more importantly 728lb lighter. It’s still larger than the GMC Terrain, mind you.
In fact, you could say only the name remains. That’s no wonder: Acadia sales have increased in the last few years to the point of exceeding both the Enclave and Traverse. The new format simply reflects the growing shift towards more compact SUVs and CUVs.
The 2017 GMC Acadia’s media launch took place in beautiful Whistler, B.C. A mecca for adventure and outdoor sports enthusiasts, the world-famous town is also the kind of destination families often pick for a road trip ― in a vehicle like the Acadia, of course.
Just like its predecessor, the second-generation model offers seating for up to seven. Interior room is tighter, sure, but the old Acadia was so spacious that occupants of the new one shouldn’t feel short-changed and likely will find it easy to live with, especially since access to the third row was simplified even with a baby seat installed in the second row.
With regard to cargo capacity, folding all the rear seats down creates a flat loading floor for your luggage and camping gear. And if that’s still not enough for you and your family, there is always the GMC Yukon.
Trims and equipment
The 2017 GMC Acadia is available in four trim levels including SLE (1 and 2), SLT (1 and 2), All Terrain, and Denali. The last one leaves the factory pretty much fully loaded and is priced accordingly at $54,695.
The All Terrain model is a new addition that stands out with sportier-looking attire (grille, wheels, black accents instead of chrome, unique badges) and a different AWD system with a dual-clutch design that promises extra grip in deteriorating road conditions.
Most 2017 GMC Acadia customers will be happy to fork between $35,000-$48,000 for a more basic SLE or SLT model. In fact, GMC execs predict that this more reasonable price range will represent 48% of new Acadia sales (versus 26% in the past).
Here’s a more detailed breakdown:
Acadia SLE FWD: $34,995
Acadia SLE AWD: $37,995
Acadia SLT AWD: $47,295
Acadia All Terrain AWD: $49,390
Acadia Denali AWD: $54,695
Look for a selection of two engines starting with a 2.5L 4-cylinder unit that endows the base GMC Acadia SLE with 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. Every other trim in the lineup gets a revised 3.6L V6 that produces 301 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only way to handle that power, though.
Unfortunately, there were no 4-cylinder models available for us to sample, and that’s simply because the smaller engine is due to arrive by late September only. My guess is that this fuel-conscious Acadia will feel underpowered as our V6-equipped testers seemed to have barely enough gusto. With proper towing equipment, pulling a 4,000lb trailer is possible.
Driving the old GMC Acadia was neither a nightmare nor a dream. I won’t pretend that the new edition delivers thrills aplenty, but the experience behind the wheel certainly is a significant step forward, mostly thanks to the rigid yet lightweight chassis. On the winding Sea-to-Sky Highway that connects Vancouver to Whistler, the latest Acadia never wavered or faltered even in a succession of sharp corners. It felt quite safe and confidence-inspiring.
It will be very interesting to test the performance of the AWD system in winter conditions. In terms of handling, note that the All Terrain version feels a bit stiffer due to slightly different suspension settings.
Every time a new vehicle is launched, we get bombarded with information about safety, technology, and connectivity. I will spare you the entire list of features and only highlight what’s new.
GMC is introducing the industry’s first Rear Seat Reminder in an effort to put an end to all those stories involving children who died after being left on the back seat of a hot car. This unique device activates when either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the Acadia is started, reminding drivers to always check to see if they left something or someone in the vehicle. Just one life saved will justify all the resources invested by the company.
As for infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard on all 2017 GMC Acadia models.
The new GMC Acadia in short
I’ve been critical of GM products in the past, insisting on the fact that the automaker is capable of the best and the worst. In the case of the new Acadia, the positive outweighs the negative. The design is a success both inside and out, and quality prevails in every aspect (although a separate review of the base model might tell a different story). I foresee the restyled Acadia ageing very well.
What about reliability? The first generation overcame a catastrophic start to post a decent record toward the end, so let’s hope the 2017 GMC Acadia builds on that.
Pricing remains a concern with the All Terrain and Denali models appearing unreasonably expensive. If you’re considering the new Acadia, think long and hard about your needs to avoid busting your budget.