By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Eagle, Idaho –With the trend by automakers to discontinue sedans, coupes and convertibles in favor of crossovers, SUVs and pickups, it appears that GMC has been more than 50 years ahead of the curve.
With a total lineup consisting of trucks, SUVs and vans ranging in size from the Terrain SUV up through commercial trucks, the GMC brand is a leader in the category.
Driving the New Acadia AT4
We recently tested the Acadia AT4 SUV which is new to the mid-level GMC SUV lineup for 2020. Available in front- or all-wheel drive, our test vehicle had the five-passenger seating and a large 41.8 cubic foot cargo area. All models are available with a third row with seating up to seven-passengers. The Acadia is about the same size as the Toyota Highlander, Ford Edge and Kia Sorrento.
All Black on the Outside
Our rugged-looking AT4 test vehicle had an almost sinister look with its black metallic paint, dark tinted windows, black tint grill, and black wheels along with black lower vehicle and wheel arch cladding. The inside was less ominous with Kalahari (we’d call it a saddle color) and Jet black two-tone perforated leather seating. The attractive interior has a well-organized space with lots of storage and conveniently positioned large controls. We especially liked the touch screen at the top of the center stack that controls audio, phone Wi-Fi Hotspot and other interior functions. It’s easy to reach and responded quickly.
Extensive Driver Aid and Safety Equipment
Like most new upper level vehicles, the Acadia AT4 has extensive driver-aid features and safety equipment using a variety of cameras and sensors to help the driver stay out of trouble. However, we missed an active cruise control system. Instead the GMC has a following distance indicator and forward collision alert rather than a system that automatically keeps the vehicle a fixed distance from the vehicle ahead.
Three Engine Choices
As a model, the GMC Acadia offers three engine choices: a 193-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 230-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6. The upscale AT4 trim level is only available with the V-6. Buff magazine testing listed a 6.1 second 0 to 60 mph time. The EPA rates fuel economy at 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. We averaged 19.6 mpg in combined driving for a week.
Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission
All engines are mated with a smooth Hydra-Matic nine-speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel drive system uses a twin clutch to transfer power to the axle with the best grip. The suspension is four-wheel independent with MacPherson struts in the front, a five-link system in the rear with coil springs and stabilizer bar. The brakes are four-wheel disk.
Questionable Electronic Precision Shift
We like the transmission but weren’t crazy about the Electronic Precision Shift that replaced the conventional console mounted shifter with the push buttons this year. The buttons are mounted below the climate controls on the bottom of the center stack. The shifter is fine for routine driving but it becomes awkward when we were trying to do something like make a three-point turn in a parking lot. Also, we both like to use the manual shifting features of an automatic transmission for better control on corners or hills. It’s difficult to reach while driving and requires the driver to take his or her eyes of the road to reach to the right-hand side of the shifter panel to shift.
Seven Trim Levels
The 2020 GMC Acadia is available in seven trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2, AT4 including the opulent Denali model. Standard equipment on our AT4 included features like hands-free power liftgate, LED headlamps and the Infotainment System with Navigation and an eight-inch screen.
Priced from $31,390
Acadia base prices range from $31,390, including the destination charge, for the front-wheel drive SL with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine up to $44,590. The fully equipped AWD Acadia Denali is priced at $50,690. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option.
The 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 is a good solid SUV that should perform well in mild off-road conditions. With the V-6 engine and the available towing package it has a 4,000-pound towing capacity so it works well for towing a small boat, trailer or a couple of adult toys. It’s definitely worth a test drive.