By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Until recent years, the new vehicle mantra seemed to be “bigger is better,” but high fuel prices and added environmental concerns have changed the battle cry. Now ‘lighter and smaller’ is the charge, and that’s what GMC did with the all-new 2017 Acadia.
With a plan to reposition the Acadia as a midsize crossover, GMC engineer’s reaped big dividends as it transformed it to a midsize crossover by cutting 6.4 inches off the wheelbase, 7.2-inches off the length and dropping 700 pound of ugly fat in the process. The refinements created a lighter, more efficient and agile vehicle. Along the way, they also gave it a full load of the latest safety technologies and driver aids.
Boxy SUVs and crossovers have always been a challenge to design, but the design team at GMC has created distinctive looks for this new Acadia. Up front projector beam headlights, in wrap-around pods flank the family grille and on the sides smooth muscular wheel bulges over the GMC-signature squared wheel arches create a smooth muscular look. Lower elements of the body are finished with a protective trim that help defend areas from rocks and road debris.
The interior of our mid-trim level SLT-1 test vehicle had a sophisticated look with French stitching on the two-tone seats and some elements of the dash covering. Faux wood trim and a combination of shinny and brushed bright trim accented interior elements. Traditional analog instrumentation is enhanced with a multi-color driver information screen between the tachometer and speedometer.
The infotainment screen is mounted at the top of the center stack for easier viewing. A big plus is that most of the controls, like volume, tuning and climate are actual buttons and knobs, which we find to be more user friendly than touch screens.
In addition to Sirius XM radio the eight-inch touch screen controls GM’s OnStar® communications system, navigation and the 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot system which allows multiple digital devices to use the vehicles Internet connection. The audio system interlinks with Apple Car Play and Android Auto to provide compatibility with smartphones.
Lower level Acadia SL and SLE models come with standard three-row seven-passenger seating, while the SLT and top-of-the-line Denali models are configured with two rows for five passengers, with the third row as an option.
An all-new 193-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on the four lower trim levels, while a 310-hp direct injection 3.6-liter V-6 is standard on the top-level models and an option on the two middle trims. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels with all-wheel drive as an option on everything other than the base SL model. All trim levels have a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Acadia has long lists of available configurations and options, but we think it makes the buying process more complicated than it should be.
Our mid-level SLT-1 with the optional V-6 engine and all-wheel drive accelerated from 0 to 60 in a quick 6.8 seconds according to buff magazine testing. The EPA rates fuel economy at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. We averaged 21.5 mpg during our week of testing.
The 2017 GMC Acadia comes in six trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. Prices range from $30,920, including the destination charge for the front-wheel drive SL trim level and go up to $48,770 for the AWD Denali. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option.
New safety features available on most models include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Automatic Braking, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking (standard on SLT-2 and Denali), Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam Automatic Headlamp High-Beam Control, Surround Vision Camera, Rear Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. A new safety addition for families is a new Rear Seat Reminder alert that signals the drive that the second-row door are open before the vehicle is started.
The V-6-powered Acadia, when equipped with the optional trailering package has a 4,000-pound towing capacity, which is enough for a couple of adult toys or a small boat or trailer.
GMC sometimes gets lost in the flood of mid-size crossovers, but it should be on the “must drive” list of any serious shopper.