GMC’s crossover provides a nice and noticeable upgrade from Chevrolet’s offerings.
– Detroit, Michigan
The GMC Acadia is a premium midsize crossover, which may not be as huge a segment as the compact crossover one below it, but is important for buyers who want a little more space or slightly more premium appointments and feature sets. When it comes to the Acadia, that means the possibility of a V6 engine, three rows of seats, and a highly contented cabin. In keeping with the GMC brand’s tough focus, this All Terrain model offers a clever twin-clutch torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, as well as some unique styling touches that add curb appeal.
At $29,000 to start, the Acadia is a good deal among midsize crossovers, especially premium ones. But it’s easy to add quite a lot to that price tag, with this tester ringing in at $48,435 after options are added – and that’s before going all the way to the $46,095 Denali trim level. That big price walk between the entry sticker price and a fully loaded Acadia dings the crossover’s score – especially given that the high-$40K range could get you into a crossover from a German or Japanese luxury brand.
This All Terrain trim of the GMC Acadia is the most appealing version I’ve seen yet, thanks to its 20-inch wheels, blacked-out exterior trim, black roof rails, and subdued Iridium Metallic paint. Overall, it’s hard to call the Acadia’s body particular exciting or memorable, but nor will your eyes find anything offensive here. Rounded edges, LED running lights, and a unique – if not great for visibility – upkick in the beltline all make for a reasonably handsome midsize crossover.
The inside of the GMC Acadia clearly looks and feels a step above a Chevrolet crossover, with nice trim pieces breaking up its dark plastics. Stitched leather trim for the steering wheel and dashboard, plus attractive and soft Kalahari leather seats, really add to the visual appeal, while dual sunroofs add a feeling of airiness. The first two rows of seats are plenty spacious for adults of all sizes, and that second row easily tilts forward to allow access in back. In the third row, however, things are snug. There’s enough leg- and headroom that I can sit back there for short journeys, although the seat cushion is very low to the floor. This one’s an occasional-use spot for kids only. With the third row lowered, cargo space is generous; a power liftgate makes accessing that storage space easier.
GMC wins big marks for the swift responses, clear graphics, and straightforward menus of its 8-inch infotainment system. All of the built-in functions work well, plus there is standard support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You’ll also find a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and General Motors’ OnStar telematics system, plus a color reconfigurable trip computer in the instrument cluster. You’ll also find up to five USB ports. On this test car, navigation is a $495 option.
The smooth and potent 3.6-liter V6 delivers meaty power throughout its rev range, with 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque on par with other midsize crossovers. Unfortunately, that’s let down a little by a six-speed automatic transmission that is occasionally dimwitted when asked to downshift – though it’s very smooth in urban driving.
Enthusiastic handling and feedback are not the Acadia’s strong suits, though it drives competently and securely almost all the time. Modest bodyroll keeps it from feeling unwieldy around bends, and the weighting of the electric power steering is reassuring. A knob on the center console allows drivers to select between front- or all-wheel drive, as well as from Sport, Towing, and All Terrain modes – but most drivers will be perfectly well served by using simply the 2WD and AWD options.
Although the GMC Acadia can be equipped with plenty of safety features, most of them are relegated to expensive trim levels and option packages – specifically, though this test car has the Driver Assistance Alert Package I, it has only a subset of the active-safety tech we expect from modern vehicles. Features on my test car include rear parking sensors, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. But you’ll need to upgrade to the pricier SLT-2 or Denali trims to get things like pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist, and so on. Like many General Motors cars, the Acadia does have an extra feature to help parents avoid forgetting a child in a hot car: The car will remind you to check the rear seat when you shut off the ignition. A Teen Driver feature, also offered on lots of other General Motors cars, also lets parents restrict vehicle use (including radio volume and top speed) when letting kids borrow the Acadia.
Fuel efficiency ratings of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg highway aren’t bad for a midsize crossover with all-wheel drive, but nor are they particular exceptional. In around-town driving, I managed to beat the EPA’s combined figure of 20 mpg easily. Working in the Acadia’s favor is the fact that its engine does not require premium fuel, keeping gas-station bills a little more reasonable.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com