What's New for 2013
For 2013, the GMC Acadia receives freshened front and rear styling, updated audio and navigation controls, improved cabin materials, a new front-center airbag and a few more standard features. A slight trim level shuffle takes place as well, as the former base SL trim is replaced with the new SLE-1.
Able to handle tasks ranging from taking a big family on vacation to handling all of their purchases from Costco the week before, large crossover SUVs are vehicular utility players. Combining the roomy passenger- and cargo-hauling abilities of a minivan with the rugged good looks of an SUV, it's no wonder that big crossovers have become hugely popular. And among them, the 2013 GMC Acadia ranks as one of the best.
From outward appearances, the 2013 Acadia looks almost fully redesigned. Highlights include a bolder-looking grille, new LED running lamps and rear glass that distinctively wraps around the back. The interior also receives the nip/tuck treatment, with sculpted surfaces and shapes integrated more fluidly into the overall design, and additional features including a new touchscreen infotainment interface (GMC's "Intellilink") at the driver's disposal.
The rest of the Acadia remains largely unchanged and that's a good thing. Interior cargo capacity continues to be a top draw, with an impressive 116 cubic feet available behind the first-row seats. We like the way the Acadia drives, too, as its comfortable ride quality and 281-horsepower V6 put this big GMC right at home on city streets and on the highway.
Consumers should know that the 2013 GMC Acadia is actually one of a set of General Motors triplets, as the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse share the same platform and running gear. The Chevy presents the most affordable option, while the Buick goes uptown with its luxury persona, providing a more sumptuous cabin. The Acadia offers an agreeable middle ground, along with ruggedly handsome styling that reflects the brand's truck heritage. Choosing among the three will likely come down to your styling preference, pricing and/or dealer experience.
Still, you'd be wise to check out our top choice, the well-rounded 2013 Ford Flex and the more athletic 2013 Mazda CX-9. The Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer 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 2013 GMC Acadia around, at least it's hard to go wrong.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 GMC Acadia is a large crossover SUV offered in five trims: SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. An eight-passenger seating configuration with a second-row bench seat is standard on the base SLE-1 and optional on the rest, which have a standard seven-passenger configuration with second-row captain's chairs.
The SLE-1 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, integrated blind-spot mirrors, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, privacy glass, keyless entry, cruise control, rear manual air-conditioning control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, OnStar emergency telematics, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SLE-2 adds remote vehicle start, a power liftgate, an eight-way power driver seat, a two-way power passenger seat (manual recline), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the Intellilink electronics interface that includes voice controls and smartphone app integration.
The SLT-1 adds 19-inch wheels, foglamps, variable-effort steering, heated sideview mirrors (with turn signal repeaters), 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.
The SLT-2 includes power-folding mirrors, driver memory functions, an eight-way power passenger seat and access to additional options. These add-ons 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 Acadia trims except the SLE-1. 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 2013 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.
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 16/23/18.
Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags for all three rows are standard on all Acadias, as is one year of GM's OnStar service, including turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free phone connectivity. All but the SLE-1 also have a front-center airbag that inflates between the driver and right front passenger for additional protection in a side-impact collision. The SLT-2 and Denali also feature standard side blind-spot monitoring.
In crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Acadia earned the highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 GMC Acadia features an attractive new interior. Most touch-surfaces are decently padded and a bit better in terms of quality than what you'll find on the Traverse. Poor rear visibility has long been an Acadia issue, though this year's model is slightly better thanks to the new Acadia's unique wraparound rear windows.
All infotainment functions are controlled by a new touchscreen display in the dash. The Intellilink interface, which allows smartphone radio app integration, features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure. Touch inputs are occasionally slow or missed entirely, however, making the interface a bit frustrating to use.
Front row passengers will enjoy abundant head- and legroom, as will second-row occupants, but the middle row seat cushions are a bit low. Sliding those seats all the way back alleviates this issue, but effectively kills third-row legroom. The slide release is also difficult to access. The narrow, flat third-row seats are easily deployed and stowed, but are best suited to kids and smaller adults.
The Acadia scores points for generous cargo capacity. Even with the third-row seats in place, it can carry up to 24 cubic feet of luggage. That figure jumps to 70 cubes with the rearmost seats folded flat and a cavernous 116 cubes with the second row stowed.
Like the other large crossovers from General Motors, the 2013 GMC Acadia delivers a nice balance between secure handling and a comfortable ride. Even so, you're always aware 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. 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 powerful V6, as it provides willing acceleration in almost all situations and achieves pretty good fuel economy.