Building tough trucks for tough work has been GMC's focus for many years, but even GMC couldn't avoid the onslaught of the crossover SUV revolution. That's where the GMC Acadia comes in. The Acadia is a midsize crossover SUV that is mechanically very similar to its platform-mates, the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. Thanks to its spacious interior, strong available V6 engine and competitive price, the Acadia is one of the better crossover SUV choices for hauling up to seven passengers and their cargo.
Current GMC Acadia
The latest GMC Acadia was redesigned for the 2017 model year. This completely revamped midsize Acadia is actually smaller than the first-generation model. Because of the downsizing, passenger and cargo room are somewhat reduced, but what the new model lost in size it makes up with improvements in other areas.
The latest Acadia can seat five, six or seven passengers and is offered in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. Even the base SL comes standard with such features as alloy wheels, keyless ignition, and an infotainment system with 7-inch touchscreen. And the interior, while not luxurious, is comfortable, well-designed and logically laid out. Higher trim levels add extras such as a power liftgate, heated leather seats, a navigation system, and a host of automated driver-assist and safety features. An All Terrain package, available on SLE and SLT models, equips the Acadia for light off-road duty with an advanced all-wheel-drive system, hill descent control, and larger wheels and tires.
The base powerplant is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 194 horsepower, and the available 3.6-liter V6 puts out 310 hp. Both engines come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All models except the base SL can be ordered with all-wheel drive. In FWD configuration, the four-cylinder engine can deliver an estimated 23 mpg in combined driving. V6 and AWD models can be expected to drop those ratings by a few mpg.
In reviews, we found that this downsized redesigned Acadia has become a better-handling SUV that feels lighter on the road, is easier to maneuver in tight quarters and delivers a more refined ride quality. The trade-off, however, is that the third-row seat is now a bit cramped, and road feel is sacrificed to an extent, especially in tight turns. The new four-cylinder engine provides improved fuel economy compared to the outgoing model, but buyers who desire a higher level of performance will want to opt for the available V6 with its better acceleration and towing capability.
Used GMC Acadia Models
The previous, first-generation Acadia debuted for the 2007 model year and was produced through 2016. A large SUV, it offered seating for up to eight, a third row with plenty of legroom, and a generous amount of cargo space.
Trim levels for this Acadia include SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. Its standard 3.6-liter V6 originally produced 275 hp. GMC later upgraded it in 2009 to 288 hp. The transmission was reprogrammed for 2010 to address previous complaints of sluggish downshift response. That year also saw new features such as Bluetooth connectivity, real-time traffic updates for the navigation system, and available heated and ventilated seats. The plush Denali trim debuted the following year.
There have been other updates, but the main change for the Acadia was 2013. Changes here included refreshed front and rear styling, improved interior materials and a new front-center airbag, as well as larger, easier-to-use controls for the audio, climate and navigation systems. This year also brought GM's IntelliLink system, with its smartphone integration capability and a slight shuffling of equipment and trim levels.
In reviews, we found the first-generation Acadia's handling to be respectable enough, especially considering the vehicle's large size, and its buttoned-down, quiet ride was particularly impressive. The V6 won't blow you away with its power, due to the vehicle's weight, but it moves the Acadia out with decent authority. And, not surprisingly, fuel economy for these heavier, full-size Acadias is not as good as the second-generation models. But overall, our editors feel that this earlier GMC Acadia represents a compelling combination of functionality, comfort and value, especially for shoppers who need a larger vehicle with more room for people and cargo.