2011 GMC Acadia SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 GMC Acadia SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
GMC Acadia Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.6 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 288 hp @ 6300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 GMC Acadia

  • Like its platform-mates from Buick and Chevy, the three-row 2011 GMC Acadia offers a winning combination of comfort, features, cargo space and performance.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Compliant ride; seating for up to eight passengers; adult-friendly split-folding third-row seat; massive cargo area; top safety scores.

  • Cons

    Compromised outward visibility; large size hampers maneuverability; some lower-quality interior materials.

  • What's New for 2011

    The 2011 GMC Acadia now is available in the premium Denali trim level, which features unique styling elements and a plusher cabin. Additionally, the OnStar telematics system now includes a standard six-month subscription to Directions and Connections.

Full 2011 GMC Acadia Review

What's New for 2011

The 2011 GMC Acadia now is available in the premium Denali trim level, which features unique styling elements and a plusher cabin. Additionally, the OnStar telematics system now includes a standard six-month subscription to Directions and Connections.


In the wake of rising fuel prices and buyers' more realistic assessments of their needs, a traditional truck-based SUV isn't the popular family vehicle it once was. While most of the shoppers who used to flock to these large, thirsty beasts would likely be well served by minivans, many are instead opting for another choice that's just as suitable: large crossovers like the 2011 GMC Acadia.

The Acadia is one of GM's "Lambda" platform triplets (the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse are the others). Like its cousins, the Acadia uses carlike unibody architecture that makes it lighter and more space-efficient than heavier, body-on-frame truck-based SUVs. As such, the Acadia offers more passenger and cargo space while also providing better handling, a more pleasant driving experience, superior crashworthiness and higher fuel economy.

Available with either front- or all-wheel drive, the Acadia is powered by a strong V6 engine. Families that take road trips will appreciate the Acadia's smooth, quiet ride. Those in the habit of transporting very large items will be grateful for the crossover's generous amount of cargo room, because maximum cargo space stands at 117 cubic feet. The Acadia's resume is rounded out by its top safety scores and ability to seat up to eight passengers.

This spacious and handsome cabin has a few weak points, however. Some of the materials are subpar and the third row, though fairly accommodating, isn't as comfortable as that in the Ford Flex. Outward visibility (admittedly a weak point in most large crossovers) falls short relative to that of other models in this segment. Lastly, driving enthusiasts might find the Acadia's handling a bit ponderous compared to lighter, more nimble rivals such as the Mazda CX-9.

Even so, these are but minor quibbles when viewed against the 2011 GMC Acadia's many strengths. The crossover faces some worthy rivals like the aforementioned 2011 Ford Flex and 2011 Mazda CX-9, as well as the new and technology-packed 2011 Ford Explorer and the more luxurious 2011 Hyundai Veracruz. We'd suggest trying them all out to see which best suits your needs. In the end, though, we suspect that the Acadia will be the best pick for many shoppers, on the strength of its impressive combination of comfort, features, cargo space and performance.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 GMC Acadia is a large crossover SUV offered in five trims: base SL, SLE, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. Seven-passenger seating is the default configuration, while eight-passenger seating (substituting a fold-flat second-row bench for the standard fold-flat captain's chairs) is optional on all but the SL.

The SL comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, OnStar telematics (with a six-month subscription to Directions and Connections) and a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo system with satellite radio. The SLE adds foglamps, a power liftgate, remote engine start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power front seats (eight-way driver/two-way passenger), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and a back-up camera with a small rearview-mirror-integrated display.

The SLT-1 ups the ante with 19-inch wheels, heated mirrors, a variable-assist steering system, tri-zone automatic climate control, rear audio controls and headphone jacks, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a 10-speaker Bose stereo with a USB audio jack. The SLT-2 adds power-folding heated mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, additional power adjustments for the front passenger seat, driver memory functions and a Towing Preparation package.

The plush Denali trim level adds unique body treatment (including grille, front/rear fascias, side moldings and wheel flares), 20-inch chrome wheels with black chrome accents, xenon headlights, additional sound insulation, illuminated sill plates, the "SkyScape" power front/fixed rear dual sunroofs, a head-up display, perforated leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats and a leather/wood steering wheel.

Many of the additional features on the upper trims can be added to the lower trims as options. Other optional highlights, depending on the trim level, include a navigation system, a rear entertainment system, a 115-volt power outlet, a surround-sound version of the Bose stereo, a second-row center console and the SkyScape sunroof.

Powertrains and Performance

There is only one engine/transmission combination available for the GMC Acadia -- a 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. The V6 produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the front-wheel-drive Acadia are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive Acadia models are very close at 16/23/19 mpg. Properly equipped, the Acadia can tow up to 5,200 pounds.


Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for all three rows are all standard on the 2011 GMC Acadia, as is one year of GM's OnStar service, including turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free phone connectivity. In Edmunds brake testing, an Acadia came to a stop in 135 feet -- the Flex and CX-9 perform better.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Acadia earned a top five-star rating for overall performance, with four out of five stars being given for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.

The Acadia also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, where it earned the highest rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside the Acadia's roomy cabin is an attractive layout in a two-tone color scheme with brushed aluminum and chrome trim (the Denali also includes wood grain accents). The instrument panel consists of dual gauges; featuring bright white numbers on a black background, these gauges are simple and easy to read. Minor complaints include a few lower-grade interior plastics and audio and climate controls that consist of too many small and similar-looking buttons.

Depending on the configuration chosen, the Acadia seats either seven passengers (with second-row captain's chairs) or eight passengers (with a split-folding second-row bench seat) in three rows. The first- and second-row seats are quite comfortable and supportive, and the split-folding third-row seat — which is often a kids-only zone in traditional SUVs — can accommodate adults in reasonable comfort. Maximum cargo capacity is a generous 117 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Even with all three rows of seating in use, there's a useful 24 cubic feet of luggage space.

Driving Impressions

Like the other large General Motors crossovers, the 2011 GMC Acadia hits a happy medium between secure handling and a comfortable ride. However, you'll never forget that it's a big and heavy vehicle (nearly 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive), and it feels more cumbersome to drive than other large crossovers on the market. Opting for the larger 19- or 20-inch wheels can also degrade the Acadia's ride quality. We have no complaints about the 3.6-liter V6, as it provides willing acceleration in almost all situations.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia SLT-2 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

My wife's vehicle, she likes it, its safe and good in snow with AWD, looks nice, lots of interior room, etc. I'm a little more picky - gas mileage pretty bad, the head rest leans too far forward, so not comfortable for me in drivers seat, and at 58K we had to get the timing cover resealed because it was leaking oil. Luckily, covered under powertrain warranty so did not cost me a penny. Also, very minor, but the rubber footing on the emergency brake popped off. I popped it back on and its been fine ever since. I have a 2005 Camry with 270K miles and no issues (knock on wood). Starting to worry about this vehicles longevity, don't think it will hold up as well as the Camry.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Ready to trade in...

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

We purchased the 2011 Denali brand-new, kept it well and were rewarded with poor quality. The first year was fine--the lack of technology was a nuisance, but the car fit my very tall family, so I was willing to overlook that. But simple things like the non-qwerty keypad in the CD-based nav system really wore on me. GM stayed solvent by skimping on technology, and it's painfully apparent in this model year. Our '06 BMW 3-series has better technology. Now at 36k, it's falling apart all over!

Great suv

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia SLT-2 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

Loved the Acadia. Plenty of room for all. Smooth driving. Leased it and had no issues to report. Recommend to all

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Don't do it

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia SLT-1 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

Purchased a used (28k miles) 2011 Acadia in April 2012. Test drove and was tempted to buy a Toyota Highlander or VW Touareg but loved the body style and features of the Acadia. DVD player broke after a week of owning it. Fortunately it was just barely covered under warranty. A couple months later, at 300 miles past warranty the back hatch broke (wouldn't open manually or remotely). $600 to fix. May 2013, a year after buying the vehicle we're on our 2nd time fixing the air conditioning (approx $1000/time), and there's an oil drip.

Smart & sporty drive

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia SLT-1 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

Love this vehicle. It is quiet, smooth and comfortable for all passengers. You get the perks of a sporty sleek look without the rough truck ride while preserving the practicality of a large SUV or truck space and utility.

Great suv, almost a homerun!

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Acadia Denali 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

I bought my 2011 Acadia Denali used with just 16,000 miles on it. I am pleased with vehicle, yet with this being a Denali model and trading in an '02 Sierra Denali on this 2011, I feel that GMC could have grabbed a few options from the parts bin. I like the acceleration from the direct injected V6. gas mileage is not bad for a vehicle this size. I am averaging 18-20 MPG in town. The wice averages about 15-17 MPG. The bluetooth phone connections are great. I also like the reclining second row seats and the sliding seats also. I know in my Sierra, it had every option available for 2002, teh Acadia should have it all also. Good product, like most GM products, it could use a couple more.

Talk About The 2011 Acadia

2011 GMC Acadia Discussions See all Started By

Does anyone have a recent recommendation on which brand of tires to go with for an Acadia? I've had my 2011 Acadia since it was new, and with 45k miles on they have reached their useful life. Haven'...

I purchased my Acadia from the dealership with 5500 miles in 2011 and immediately had issues with the following: -alternator ALWAYS reading 13-15 volts -Tires -Tailgate struts breaking -Overheating -...

New here ! I am looking for a used GMC Acadia, and I came across a listing for a 2012 with 57,000 miles. Normally I would not buy a used car with this many miles, but it's only 2 years old. It appa...

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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