Though smaller in size, the 2017 GMC Acadia does a good job of balancing its family-oriented crossover intentions with a tough, truck-like appearance, while also imparting a feeling of luxury.
The new Acadia is a reasonable upgrade on the outgoing model—inside and out. We give it an 7 out of 10 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The overall look isn't as blocky as some GMCs, but those angular elements are still there. The grille is as bold as it's ever been, but it trades a rectangular look for a trapezoidal shape. GMC offers different grilles for different models. The Denali's grille is blinged out in chrome with a checkered mesh pattern. The All Terrain model has a blacked out grille with horizontal bars and black mesh. Lower end grilles feature chrome surrounds and the All Terrain's horizontal bars with black mesh. The headlights are also less blocky, taking on a eye-like taper with LED accents.
Along the sides, the body is more sculpted with the hint of a Coke-bottle shape. There is a prominent kick up along the window line at the third pillar, and the rear side window glass appears to wrap around the back of the vehicle.
The rear end also gets a bit more visual interest with tapered taillights that mimic the headlights, and a bit more surface sculpting instead of the straight, stern lines of the outgoing model.
In terms of trim, the All Terrain and Denali again stand out from the pack. The Denali has more chrome on the roof rails, window surrounds, side trim, door handles, and lower fascias, plus its own unique six-spoke 20-inch wheels. On the All Terrain, most of those chrome elements become black.
A smaller size brings slightly softer styling but the look is refined inside and out.
Take 7 inches of length and 740 pounds out of a vehicle and you are certainly going to improve the handling. The 2017 GMC Acadia is much easier to maneuver in tight spots and more responsive to driver inputs than the large, but pleasant model it replaces. There is still some lean in turns, but it's less noticeable, and there is a slight bit of wobble at highway speeds, a result of the raised ride height.
Despite the weight loss, the Acadia feels a bit heavy when ordered with the V-6 model and all-wheel drive. It lightens up with front-drive and/or the 4-cylinder engine.
Good handling and a good transmission is how we arrive at our 7 out of 10 rating for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
In any model, the steering is fairly direct, if light on road feel, and the available Sport mode firms it up to almost sports car levels. In Denalis with the optional Continuously Variable Ride Control, that Sport mode also firms up the adjustable shocks. Even in the firmer setting, however, the ride is forgiving.
Most buyers will likely opt for the 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6, and with good reason. It gets the Acadia moving briskly and has plenty in reserve for highway passing. Plus, it lets out a satisfying growl when pushed. GMC says the 0-60 mph time is as low as 6.5 seconds, which is quite quick for a crossover. We've even observed heapings of wheel spin in the crossover.
The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is actually acceptable for most everyday driving, especially with a light load. It offers good initial response, but runs out of breath when pushed hard, running uphill, or—likely—when loaded with people and cargo. Even with just a driver, 0 to 60 mph arrives in a rather pedestrian 9.3 seconds.
All Acadias come standard with a Traction Select system. It adjusts the pedal map, transmission shift points, steering weight, and, when equipped with the active dampers, the damper settings. Depending on the model, it is available with 2WD, 4WD, Sport, Towing, and Off Road/All Terrain modes.
With the available towing package, the V-6 can tow up to 4,000 pounds. The 4-cylinder is not rated for towing.
Lighter this year, the GMC Acadia is easier to maneuver and downright quick with the V-6, though the new 4-cylinder struggles when loaded.
The greatest advantage of the outgoing Acadia was its interior space. It had so much room that you could fill it with eight passengers and still carry their stuff. It maxed out at a whopping 116.1 cubic feet of cargo space, making it the most spacious family hauler this side of a minivan.
GMC gives up those advantages to play more in the mainstream this time around. A GMC spokesman said only 8 percent of buyers needed an eight-passenger vehicle. Without as much width to work with, this one can only accommodate two passengers in the third row instead of three. That drops max capacity to seven, and GMC offers a six-passenger variant with two second-row captain’s chairs, as well as a new two-row version with five-passenger seating.
We like the Acadia's front and rear seats and think it has a high level of fit-and-finish for the upscale General Motors brand. We give it an 8 out of 10 on our comfort scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Sized like a a Toyota Highlander, the Acadia still offers good space. Front-row occupants sit on comfortable bucket seats with plenty of head room and leg room. The second row slides fore and aft a few inches and it, too, offers good space in most instances. Throw a couple people in back, though, and you’ll have to give and take to balance second- and third-row passenger space.
Those third-row occupants should probably be kids, as leg room is tight and the cushion sits low, causing a knees-up seating position. Still, a pair of adults will fit back there in a pinch, and the passenger side Smart Slide second-row seat provides fairly easy access to the third row: just pull a handle and slide the seat forward to create a clear path to the rear.
With all the seats up, the 2017 Acadia has a minuscule 12.8 cubic feet of rear cargo space compared to 24.1 cubic feet for the 2016 model. The second and third rows fold flat to expand that to 79 cubic feet, which is still spacious and competitive for the class but a far cry from the outgoing model’s vast cargo hold. In the All Terrain model, with its two-row seating, GMC also provides a rack that can be moved a couple of feet forward and back on a track and used to hold cargo in place.
The Acadia’s cabin is suitably upscale for its $30,000-$50,000 price tag. The door panels and dashboard feature soft-touch surfaces, and the center stack is ringed in metal trim. Our only complaint is the plastic trim that in some models does a poor job of approximating wood. GMC says it may update the materials before the vehicle goes on sale. Let’s hope it does.
The smaller size reduces seating capacity to seven and cuts into cargo room, but the Acadia still offers good space for people and cargo.
Crash-test results for the 2017 GMC Acadia are promising for the future of the SUV.
The Acadia earned top "Good" scores in every crash test, and its active safety features have been rated as "Superior" by the agency. Only its headlights received a "Marginal" score, which keeps it from ascending the ladder to Top Safety Pick status.
Federal testers gave it a five-star overall score, including a four-star score for rollover safety, which is common for tall-riding vehicles.
We give the Acadia a point for TSP, for a 7 out of 10 on safety. We'd like to give another point for advanced safety features, but those are only reserved for top, pricey Denali trims for now. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
It comes standard with eight airbags, as well as a rearview camera.
Three radar units, five cameras, and ultrasonic sensors enable several other features, including a surround-view camera system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, front park assist, pedestrian detection with low-speed automatic braking, and forward collision warning with emergency braking. The alerts for many of these features are handled by General Motor’s Safety Alert seat that vibrates in the direction of the warning.
GMC also has a rear-seat reminder system to alert parents that they may have left kids in the car. It senses if the rear doors have been opened and sounds a warning and flashes a message in the instrument panel when the driver is exiting the vehicle. GMC says that 30-40 kids die from heatstroke each year, and half of those cases are due to being left in a hot vehicle.
Crash-test ratings for the GMC Acadia are good from federal and independent testers.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(4/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Not Tested|
|Roof Strength Test||Not Tested|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Not Tested|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
The 2017 GMC Acadia is offered in SE, SLE, SLT, All Terrain, and Denali models. Pricing starts at $29,995 for an SE with front-wheel drive and ranges up to $47,845 for a Denali with all-wheel drive. Options can push that total past $50,000.
A big infotainment screen, good base features, good optional features, and decent customization prompt us to give the new Acadia a near-perfect score on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Despite its off-road-oriented name, the All Terrain model only has a couple of features that aid with off-roading. First is the Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that can transfer torque both front to rear and left to right. The other is an All Terrain setting in place of the Off Road setting of other AWD models; GMC says it delivers enhanced hill climbing capability. The All Terrain is also the only Acadia that comes with only two rows of seats for five-passenger capacity. As such it comes with removable cargo bars in the back that slide on a track and act as a fence to help secure cargo in place.
The Denali model comes with 20-inch wheels and a hands-free power liftgate, Other features that are standard by the time you get to the Denali model include HID headlamps, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, an 8.0-inch configurable instrument panel display, and a heated steering wheel. The Denali is also the only Acadia offered with active dampers that GMC calls "Continuously Variable Ride Control."
GMC's IntelliLink infotainment system, which is standard on most models, is also updated this year. The 8.0-inch center touchscreen carries over, but it adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as access to new apps. The Glympse app lets the driver send their current location to anyone with a smartphone, even if they don't have the app. An At Your Service app uses the OnStar system to send offers from businesses in the immediate area to the vehicle. The new app by The Weather Channel is self explanatory.
Owners can also download the new myGMC mobile app to their smartphones to start or stop the engine, lock or unlock the vehicle, send directions to the vehicle, use the At Your Service app, call for roadside service, schedule dealer services, read the owner's manual, look up recalls, locate the vehicle, and manage the 4G LTE connection.
Notable options include a dual sunroof and a tow vision camera.
Pricing comes down into the heart of the market, but the 2017 GMC Acadia can be loaded with features, especially the Denali model.
With a newly available 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 740 fewer pounds to carry around, the Acadia’s fuel economy improves. The new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine has stop-start capability to improve fuel economy even more. When ordered with front-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter inline-4, the EPA estimates fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. Add all-wheel drive and those numbers barely fall to 21/25/23 mpg.
It's those ratings that prompted us to give the new Acadia a 6 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The next-generation 3.6-liter V-6 does not come with stop-start, but it does get Active Fuel Management, which shuts down two cylinders under light load conditions to improve fuel economy. The EPA pegs those ratings at 18/25/21 mpg with front-drive and 18/25/20 with AWD.
By comparison, the outgoing Acadia was rated at 15/22/18 mpg with front-drive and 15/22/17 with AWD.
Lighter weight, a smaller footprint, and an available 4-cylinder engine all improve fuel economy, but the Acadia's V-6 isn't as efficient as some rivals.