Full 2014 GMC Acadia Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the GMC Acadia sees just a few changes. All Acadias gain an additional pair of charge-only USB ports, while the Denali trim picks up standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems.
A vehicular jack-of-all-trades, the 2014 GMC Acadia can handle it all. GMC's family hauler is ideal for transporting your big brood to the lake or hauling a full load of provisions away from your local big box store. Large crossovers are good like that, combining much of the passenger- and cargo-hauling abilities of a minivan with the rugged good looks and (when equipped with all-wheel drive) the foul-weather capability of a traditional SUV. In this highly competitive segment, the Acadia stands as one of the best picks.
In addition to its spacious interior, the GMC Acadia earns high marks for its comfortable ride, easy-going driving demeanor and 288-horsepower V6, which provides ample thrust for daily commutes and long interstate runs alike. Of course, the Acadia is not exactly unique, as Buick's Enclave and Chevy's Traverse share the same basic platform, engine and seating layout, and differ mainly in their styling and equipment details. The Chevy has the lowest starting price, while the luxury-themed Buick packs the most standard features. The Acadia offers an agreeable middle ground, along with ruggedly handsome styling that reflects the brand's truck heritage. Choosing one of the three will likely come down to your styling preference, pricing and your experience at the dealership.
Although the GMC Acadia and its cousins are tough to beat if you need lots of space (and don't really want a minivan), we'd also suggest considering the highly regarded Ford Flex and the more athletic handling and nearly as spacious Mazda CX-9. The Dodge Durango, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder are also solid picks in this price range, though they don't offer quite as much interior room as the aforementioned models. With so many choices out there for a three-row crossover, narrowing down your list of candidates can be tough. For families who need eight-passenger seating above all else, though, it's hard to go wrong with the 2014 GMC Acadia.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 GMC Acadia is a large crossover SUV offered in three basic trims: SLE, SLT and Denali. The SLE is further subdivided into SLE-1 and SLE-2, while the SLT is subdivided into SLT-1 and SLT-2 trims.
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, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, cruise control, rear manual air-conditioning control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar telematics, Bluetooth phone 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. There are also dual USB charge-only ports on the rear of the center console.
The SLE-2 adds remote vehicle start, a power liftgate, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way lumbar), a two-way power passenger seat (manual recline), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the Intellilink electronics interface that includes voice controls, Bluetooth audio connectivity and smartphone app integration.
The SLT-1 adds 19-inch wheels, foglamps, variable-effort steering, heated 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.
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, a panoramic sunroof, forward collision alert system, lane departure warning system, increased sound insulation and a wood-trimmed steering wheel.
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 and a 110-volt power outlet. The SLT trims and the Denali can also be equipped with a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2014 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 the related Buick Enclave (with all-wheel drive), we measured a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds, which is on par with other large crossovers with a base V6.
The EPA estimates a front-drive Acadia will return 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway). All-wheel-drive models drop to 18 combined (16 city/23 highway).
Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors are standard on every Acadia. 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 standard OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, an emergency button, stolen vehicle locator and active intervention, and remote door unlock.
The SLT-2 and Denali also feature standard side blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert. The Denali comes standard with forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems, which are optional on the SLTs.
In government crash tests, the Acadia earned a top five-star rating for overall performance, with five out of five stars earned for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Acadia also fared well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, where it got the highest rating of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 GMC Acadia features an attractive interior, as most of the surfaces you're likely to touch or lean an elbow on are padded and of solid quality. Typical for a three-row vehicle, the Acadia's rearward visibility is almost nonexistent when you have a full crew on board, so the standard rearview camera is a huge help.
In most models, entertainment, phone and navigation functions are controlled by a touchscreen interface in the dash called Intellilink. It provides smartphone radio app integration and features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure. Intellilink is sometimes slow to process touch inputs (and in a few instances, wholly unresponsive), however, which can make it frustrating to use.
Front occupants will enjoy abundant head- and legroom, as will second-row occupants, but the middle row seat cushions are mounted low, reducing comfort for adults. 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-cushioned 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 third-row seats folded flat and a cavernous 116 cubes with the second row stowed.
Like the other large crossovers from General Motors, the 2014 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 (the Acadia weighs nearly 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive), and it feels a little more cumbersome in the parking lot than other large crossovers.
The V6 engine provides adequate performance but lacks punch during authoritative passing maneuvers. It can also sound harsh and unrefined under hard acceleration. In addition, the automatic transmission can be slow to react when a quick downshift is needed, though its gearchanges are at least smooth. Most owners will get used to these characteristics, but if you want more in the way of performance, a CX-9 or Flex is probably more your speed.