The first of GM’s all-new large crossovers is a sign of good things to come, just don’t buy this version.
– Cleveland, Ohio
The GMC Acadia is all-new for 2017 and the first of General Motors’ new line of large, three-row crossovers to debut; a new Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave will soon follow. The all-around goodness of the new Acadia bodes well for those other brands. It looks better, is more refined, and has more technology than the old Acadia.
The mid-level SLE and SLT trims can also now be ordered as All Terrain models, an option that was previously only available on the brand’s Sierra half-ton and heavy-duty trucks. Like a Stepford Dad dressed for a Cub Scout overnighter, it looks sharp in its brand new camping outfit. In reality, though, I wouldn’t cross anything more than a mulched flower bed in the All Terrain. For that and more reasons below, I recommend steering clear of it. Fortunately, the Acadia’s new bones are solid and, All Terrain aside, this is a three-row crossover worth your consideration.
- The Acadia’s new design makes a great first impression and I received a number of unsolicited compliments about its looks during the week I drove it. The first-generation Acadia had fairly simple lines with flat sheet metal along the sides. The new design, though, is muscular, with a body that curves out around its fenders and a smaller, less brutish front end. Park this next to a Pilot, Explorer, or Highlander, and it’ll be the Marcia to their Jan every time.
- At least in this All Terrain version, the Acadia is very plush and comfortable to drive. From the compliant suspension to the seats that feel like collapsing into your living room recliner when you get in, the Acadia pampers.
- The engine under the hood is a mighty 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. That’s a lot of power, more than any other non-turbo V6 from its competitors (the Durango’s optional V8 and Ford’s available twin-turbo V6 make more power). Acceleration is strong for a vehicle that blocks out so much of the sun and the engine operates quietly and with little vibration. Plus, it features clever fuel-saving tech like cylinder deactivation, which shuts down two cylinders while cruising to save fuel, and a unique drivetrain that can disconnect the rear wheels entirely to run as a more fuel efficient front-wheel-drive crossover.
- There’s a price to be paid for that cushy ride. The Acadia’s handling is on the soft side, feeling more like a top-heavy minivan in turns than an adventure-oriented crossover. In fact, there’s enough roll here that I would feel less comfortable driving the Acadia in an emergency avoidance maneuver, like turning sharply to miss a tire in the road, than its competitors that exhibit better body control.
- All Terrain? Aside from a fancy all-wheel-drive system with settings for two- and four-wheel drive, and sport, mountain, and tow modes, there’s nothing remotely outdoorsy about this crossover. It’s very low to the ground (don’t let the acres of lower black cladding around the body fool you) and its 20-inch wheels are huge; this is practically a station wagon and its domain is strictly pavement.
- Where’s the third row, yo? For inexplicable reasons, GMC took out the Acadia’s third row for this All Terrain trim. It’s still there if you get an SLT or Denali, but All Terrain buyers lose the extra seats. Perhaps GMC believes the All Terrain model will appeal more to adventurous DINKs who don’t need an extra bench, but they’re wrong, especially when keeping said seats wouldn’t harm cargo space. Amusingly, there are even still cupholders and USB ports back there for seats that don’t exist.
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Dodge Durango
- Ford Explorer
- Honda Pilot
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Kia Sorento
- Mazda CX-9
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Toyota Highlander
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com