2018 GMC Acadia

2018 GMC Acadia Review

The GMC Acadia is a comfortable SUV, and its optional third-row seat adds versatility.
7.4 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

With a carlike ride and lighter construction (which allows for downsized, more fuel-efficient engines), large crossovers have largely supplanted traditional sport-utility vehicles. It was only natural that GMC — then known for its pickups and truck-based SUVs — was swept up in the craze just over a decade ago. The 2018 Acadia is the newest version of GMC's first car-based utility vehicle.

This three-row crossover was fully redesigned last year, a transformation that made the 2017 Acadia smaller and lighter than the previous model. Handling and fuel economy were improved at the expense of passenger and cargo room, but you wouldn't notice the pinch unless you habitually filled the third row with little ones.

For those in the first and second rows, the Acadia is spacious all around, and both back rows fold flat at the pull of a strap for maximum carrying capacity. The rest of the cabin is airy and inviting, though the overall design is more focused on function than form. That said, if you think competitors' interiors look a bit busy, you'll probably enjoy the Acadia's more toned-down approach.

Though a four-cylinder engine is available, we think it's outmatched by the sheer weight it's asked to move. Better to upgrade to the optional V6, especially if you plan on frequently ferrying friends and family.

Overall, we think the 2018 GMC Acadia is a solid choice for a comfortable three-row crossover SUV. But it might also be worth your time to look at a few other rival models, especially if expansive third-row seat space and lots of cargo room are priorities for you.



What's new for 2018

The 3.6-liter V6 is now available on SLE-1 AWD models. Last year's All Terrain package deleted the third-row seat, but it can now be ordered with the third row intact.

We recommend

The SL is enticing, but it's a special-order-only model that you won't find at the dealership. Though you can find the SLE-1 on lots, it doesn't add much and costs thousands more. The SLE-2 is a better bang for your buck: It's reasonably priced and adds a power liftgate, power driver seat and heated front seats. Its available Driver Alert I package is the least expensive way to add blind-spot monitoring to the Acadia. Whichever trim you choose, we think it's worth checking the box for the V6. Its superior performance will be appreciated when you're carrying passengers or towing.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 GMC Acadia is offered in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. The SL model seems like a great deal, until you realize that it's a custom-order model and you'll have to wait for it to be built. There are two levels of the midgrade SLE trim: The SLE-1 is only a minor upgrade over the SL (but you'll actually find it at a dealership), while the SLE-2 adds a more substantial level of upgrades. A well-equipped SLT trim is the next step up, and it, too, is split between SLT-1 and SLT-2 levels. The Denali trim rounds out the lineup with several exclusive high-end features.

Depending on trim, the midsize Acadia is offered in a two-row, five-passenger configuration or a three-row configuration with seating for six (with second-row captain's chairs) or seven (with a second-row bench). A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (193 horsepower, 188 pound-feet of torque) is standard on SL, SLE and SLT-1 models. A 3.6-liter V6 (310 hp, 271 lb-ft) is standard on SLT-2 and Denali models and optional on SLE-1 (with all-wheel drive), SLE-2 and SLT-1 trims. Both engines are paired to a six-speed automatic.

Technically, GMC sells an Acadia in the SL trim, with a seven-passenger seating configuration and front-wheel drive. White and silver exterior paint are really the only options on this trim. Its features include17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, GMC's Teen Driver system, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration, a rearview camera, OnStar (with 4G LTE and a Wi-Fi hotspot), and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port and auxiliary input.

It's a built-to-order trim, however, so you're most likely going to see the next level SLE-1 on dealer lots. The SLE-1 trim adds only LED running lights and satellite radio, while the SLE-2 steps it up with 18-inch wheels, foglights, a power liftgate with programmable height stops, roof rails, remote engine start, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and heated front seats. The SLE-2 and above trims come standard with middle-row captain's chairs that reduce passenger capacity to six, but the second-row bench is available.

The SLE-2's available Driver Alert I package adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.

Opting for the SLT-1 trim adds the Driver Alert I package, an auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirror, an upgraded driver information display, a household-style power outlet, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with a subwoofer.

The SLT-2 trim adds 20-inch wheels, the V6 engine, a trailering package, driver-seat memory functions and heated outboard middle-row seats. Also included is the Driver Alert II package that has all of the supporting Driver Alert I features plus lane departure warning and mitigation, forward collision warning (with pedestrian detection and automatic braking at low speeds), automatic high beams, front parking sensors, and a safety-alert driver seat that buzzes when alerts are triggered.

An 8-inch touchscreen is available on SLE-2, SLT-1 and SLT-2 models. It is paired with the Bose audio system and upgraded driver info display on the SLE-2, and it can be equipped with navigation on the SLT trims.

The top-of-the-line Denali rounds out the lineup with polished wheels, xenon headlights, a unique grille, a hands-free liftgate, the 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a configurable virtual gauge display, ventilated front seats, and a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel. The Denali is also eligible for the optional Technology package that adds a 360-degree parking camera and adaptive cruise control.

You can get all-wheel drive on all Acadias except the base SL. A two-panel sunroof is available on SLE-2 trims and above. An All Terrain package is also available on SLE-2 and SLT-1 trims and adds the V6 engine, distinct exterior treatments, hill descent control, a more advanced all-wheel-drive system and a cargo management system (SLT-1 only). If five-passenger seating is specified, tri-zone climate control is replaced by dual-zone control with rear air vents. Finally, a special suspension with adaptive dampers is optional for AWD SLT-2 and Denali trims.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 GMC Acadia (3.6L V6 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.4 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration9.0 / 10
Braking8.0 / 10
Steering8.0 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability9.0 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort7.5 / 10
Ride comfort9.0 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use7.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.5 / 10
Driving position7.5 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality6.5 / 10

Utility

7.0 / 10

Small-item storage6.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

8.5 / 10

Audio & navigation8.0 / 10
Smartphone integration9.0 / 10

Driving8.0

A strong all-around performer, the Acadia is well suited to its mission as a comfortable, easy-to-drive family hauler. There is never a lack of power with the V6 engine, and the ride quality is well controlled over most roads. Strong, easy-to-modulate brakes round out its impressive capabilities.

Acceleration9.0

When equipped with the V6 engine, the Acadia is never at a loss for power. It takes off from a stop quickly and pulls up hills with ease. We measured a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.3 seconds, which is impressive for a vehicle of this size.

Braking8.0

The Acadia has a well-tuned braking system that drivers of all types will find accommodating. An easy-to-modulate pedal and plenty of stopping power. Our testing showed that, even after multiple aggressive stops, there was no loss of stopping power.

Steering8.0

Lightly weighted steering makes it easy to maneuver in parking lots and at speed on the highway. The drawback, however, is limited road feel when you're driving around turns.

Handling8.0

The Acadia tends to want to push wide in turns, which is typical in a vehicle like this, but overall it handles its considerable weight quite well.

Drivability9.0

Overall feel from the steering, the brakes, the pedal and suspension is excellent. It's very well tuned for this kind of vehicle. The V6 is strong at all speeds, and the transmission is responsive to your gas pedal inputs.

Off-road6.0

The optional All Terrain package adds hill descent control and a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. Both items are helpful off-road, but with only 7.2 inches of ground clearance and 20-inch all-season tires, the Acadia is better suited to snow-covered roads, not rocky trails.

Comfort8.5

The Acadia is a very comfortable vehicle for road trips or daily errands. The Acadia has soft, forgiving seats and a compliant suspension that smooths out most road imperfections. Road noise and wind noise are also kept well in check.

Seat comfort7.5

The front seats don't have aggressive bolstering but are comfortable over several hours. The rear seats have short cushions but are well contoured. The third row is tighter than in the previous Acadia. There's enough room for carpool duty, but longer trips would be uncomfortable even for kids.

Ride comfort9.0

The Acadia gets high marks. It soaks up rough roads very well and with very little cabin noise intrusion. It's not too soft and always feels in control. The All Terrain model is surprisingly supple for a vehicle with 20-inch wheels and tires.

Noise & vibration9.0

Very quiet on the road. There's minimal wind or road noise when you're driving on the highway, and engine noise rarely intrudes. High marks.

Climate control8.0

There's a dual automatic climate control up front along with additional controls for the rear. The layout is simple with minimal buttons. There are eight fan speeds, and the lowest speed is acceptably low. Dual seat heaters (back and cushion) and ventilation are available depending on trim.

Interior7.0

The overall design of the interior is straightforward with easy-to-use controls. It feels more like a car from behind the wheel compared to some of its competitors, but outward visibility is about the same. Shorter drivers will appreciate its relatively low step-in height.

Ease of use7.5

The Acadia uses the same overall layout as the GMC Sierra pickup, which is good. A minimal number of knobs and buttons make it easy to figure things out. But it's not very luxurious-looking.

Getting in/getting out7.5

A low step-in height makes it very easy to get in and out. An average-size adult will drop down slightly when getting in, so there's no climbing up into the Acadia. The doors are light, and they open wide. But we're not fans of the door handle design because the handles can pinch fingers easily.

Driving position7.5

It feels more carlike than the Honda Pilot. The windshield angle is steep, but the base of the windshield sits low. You can rest your elbows easily on the door and the center console.

Roominess7.0

With the seat all the way back, you can barely reach the pedals. And your head is nowhere near the ceiling. The high console makes it feel a little tight up front. The second row is about average, but the third row is very tight.

Visibility7.0

The steep windshield angle reduces the overall view forward. The windshield pillars are average-size. The rearmost pillars are thick with smallish back windows. The mirrors are average size. The rearview camera has good coverage but not the clearest picture.

Quality6.5

Inside, the parking button is off-center. The quarter panels at the front roof pillar don't line up on the inside or outside. Other interior areas look and feel fine.

Utility7.0

There's a decent amount of space with the second row folded, but the Acadia isn't outstanding in any other areas. There's not an abundance of storage space up front, and the limited area behind the third row means you need to pack light.

Small-item storage6.0

The center console is deep but square, so it doesn't fit anything longer than a pen. There is a small bin in front of the shifter for things such as keys. The shallow door bins don't hold anything very sizable. There's an average-size glovebox and a place for sunglasses in the overhead console.

Cargo space8.0

Open the liftgate and you've got a wide, unobstructed cargo floor (with the third-row seat folded) to work with. Remote-release handles make it easy to fold the second row. Note, however, that with the optional third row in place, there's only enough space for a couple duffle bags.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

We like the easy-to-find LATCH attachment anchor points. The raised center seat on models with the second-row bench makes it more awkward to fit a child seat in the middle.

Towing6.0

Towing capacity is 4,000 pounds, which is 1,000 pounds less than that of most competitors.

Hauling8.0

The All Terrain package forgoes a third-row seat in favor of a more flexible cargo bay. This means adjustable tie-down rails, additional attachment hooks and a usable underfloor storage system. The cargo area itself is wide and flat, making it well suited to accommodating cargo.

Technology8.5

The touchscreen technology interface used in the Acadia is one of the easier systems to use at a glance. It favors the features you use most often, which is a plus. Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy.

Audio & navigation8.0

The standard GM touchscreen interface is generally good thanks to simple menus and large, easy-to-read icons. There are knobs for tuning and volume, which are always a plus. The rest of the controls are kept to a minimum to reduce clutter.

Smartphone integration9.0

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available. Bluetooth pairing is simple and quick.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.