Full 2012 GMC Acadia Review
What's New for 2012
Other than receiving some minor feature changes, the GMC Acadia carries over unchanged for 2012.
The family hauler has changed a lot over the years, with wagons making way for minivans and then truck-based SUVs. Today, crossovers have combined the attributes of minivans and SUVs and then adopted the visual cues of the wagon. One of the best of these modern family haulers is the 2012 GMC Acadia, a large crossover that boasts a refined ride and an enormous cabin that can fit up to eight adults.
The Acadia's carlike unibody architecture means it's lighter and more space-efficient than heavier, trucklike SUVs like the GMC Yukon. As such, the Acadia offers more passenger and cargo space than its GMC stable mate, along with a more pleasant driving experience, better maneuverability, higher fuel economy and more secure handling. The Acadia is roomier than other competing large crossovers as well.
It's important to note that the 2012 GMC Acadia is one of three GM vehicles with this body style and a 288-horsepower V6. The Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse differ in styling, interior design, some feature availability and the quality of some cabin materials, reinforcing Buick's luxury identity and Chevrolet's plain-spoken utility, while the GMC promotes its truck heritage. Mechanically, these vehicles are essentially identical. When it comes to picking one, the decision really comes down to style, price and which dealer treats you best.
Still, you'd be wise to check out the more athletic Mazda CX-9 or our top choice, the well-rounded Ford Flex. The Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango don't offer quite as much interior space as any of the above models, but each is certainly desirable in its own right. All these choices may make your search for a family hauler a little tougher, but with crossovers like the GMC Acadia around, at least it's hard to go wrong.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 GMC Acadia is a large crossover SUV offered in five trims: base SL, SLE, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. An eight-passenger seating configuration with the second-row bench seat is standard on the base SL and optional on the rest, which get a standard seven-passenger configuration with second-row captain's chairs.
The Acadia SL comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, privacy glass, keyless entry, cruise control, rear air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar emergency telematics and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Preferred package adds remote ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth.
The Acadia SLE gets the Preferred package standard, plus a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power driver seat, a two-way power passenger seat (manual recline), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera.
The SLT-1 adds 19-inch wheels, upgraded steering, heated mirrors with turn signal repeaters and integrated blind-spot mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery in the first and second rows (third row vinyl), heated front seats, an enhanced trip computer, rear seat audio controls and a 10-speaker Bose sound system with an iPod/USB audio interface. The SLT-2 includes power-folding mirrors, driver memory functions, a four-way power passenger seat and access to additional options. These include ventilated front seats and the Technology package, which adds xenon headlights, a head-up display and cargo area audio controls.
The Denali includes all of the SLT-2's optional items, plus unique styling flourishes inside and out, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, increased sound deadening, a wood-trim steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof.
That sunroof is optional on all other Acadias except the base SL. The same goes for the rear-seat entertainment system, which includes a Bose surround-sound audio system. The SLT trims and the Denali can also be equipped with a navigation system, which includes real-time traffic and a touchscreen interface.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2012 GMC Acadia is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 288 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing of a mechanically identical front-wheel-drive Chevy Traverse, it took 8.2 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph. According to EPA estimates, a front-drive Acadia will return 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Opting for all-wheel drive drops this to 16/23/19.
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 2012 GMC Acadia. Also standard is one year of GM's OnStar service, including turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free phone connectivity.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Acadia with 18-inch wheels and tires came to a stop in 135 feet. The Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9 perform better. Opting for 20-inch wheels and tires brings the Acadia closer to those competitors with a 130-foot stop.
In government crash tests, 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 spacious cabin, the 2012 Acadia has an attractive layout, with a two-tone color scheme highlighted by accents of chrome trim (the Denali also includes wood-grain accents). Unfortunately, this trim is prone to reflect the sun into the eyes of the driver and front-seat passenger. Two other downsides include small and indistinct buttons for the audio and climate controls, and outward visibility that's more compromised than that of other competing vehicles. But in general, build quality is strong and the materials used in the Acadia are a bit better than those in its Chevy Traverse sibling.
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 enormous at 117 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Even with all three rows of seating in use, there are a useful 24 cubic feet of luggage space. In total, the Acadia is a far more practical vehicle for people and cargo than the bigger GMC Yukon.
Like the other large crossovers from General Motors, the 2012 GMC Acadia delivers a nice balance between secure handling and a comfortable ride. Even so, you're always reminded that this is a large, heavy vehicle (it weighs nearly 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive), and it feels a little more cumbersome than other large crossovers on the market. Still, compared to the truck-based GMC Yukon, the Acadia is a much nicer and easier vehicle to drive. We have no complaints about the 288-hp V6, as it provides willing acceleration in almost all situations and achieves pretty good fuel economy.