2017 GMC Acadia: New Car Review

For the last decade, GMC's hottest-selling SUV -- and its sole entrant in the midsize-SUV segment -- has been the Acadia. Offering standard 3-row seating, V6 power and a large interior, the vehicle has bridged the gap between a midsize crossover and a full-size model. But while GMC has done a good job keeping the Acadia current with features and equipment, it's suffered from an older design, an aging interior and an overly familiar appearance.

But the fully redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia is now here, with a new design, a new interior, new features and one especially big difference over the outgoing model: its size. It's 7 inches shorter than its predecessor, and it now offers a standard 4-cylinder and an optional V6 rather than a standard 6-cylinder. And while interior space is roughly the same for the first two rows of seats, GMC has taken a chunk out of third-row legroom and the cargo area in an effort to make the Acadia smaller than its predecessor. It's a big change for a vehicle that's competing in a segment in which age tends to make competitors larger and roomier, not smaller.

What's New for 2017?

The Acadia is completely redesigned for 2017, featuring a new design, a new interior, new features and smaller dimensions.

What We Like

Handsome appearance; powerful V6; lots of technology; more easily maneuverable due to small size

What We Don't

Less cargo space and third-row seat room than outgoing model; lethargic base-level 4-cylinder

How Much?

$30,000-$45,800

Fuel Economy

The Acadia offers two engines, both of which are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive.

Base models use a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which makes 194 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6, which delivers 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy regardless of drivetrain.

Standard Features & Options

The Acadia is offered in six trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and the upscale Denali.

The SL ($30,000) includes 3-row seating, keyless ignition with push-button starting, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-in center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, tri-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 6-speaker sound system, cruise control and heated mirrors.

The SLE-1 ($33,400) adds LED daytime running lights, carpeted floor mats and satellite radio, while the SLE-2 ($36,000) includes larger alloy wheels, a power lift gate, a power driver's seat, fog lights, heated front seats, roof rails and a remote starter.

Pick the SLT-1 ($39,300), and you'll get auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, a universal garage door opener, an 8-speaker Bose stereo system, dual power front seats and the Driver Alert Package I, which includes lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system, rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert.

Next up is the SLT-2 ($42,700), which adds 20-in wheels, heated second-row seats, a Towing package and driver memory settings. It also includes the Driver Alert Package II, which brings automatic high beams, automatic braking, lane-keep assist, front parking sensors and GM's Safety Alert Seat, which buzzes to let you know if there's a safety issue.

At the top of the lineup is the Denali ($45,800), which boasts xenon headlights, a hands-free power lift gate, a larger 8-in touchscreen, a configurable gauge cluster, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel. Drivers who opt for the Denali's Technology package also get a 360-degree camera system and adaptive cruise control.

As for engine choices, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is standard on SL, SLE-1, SLE-2 and SLT-1 models. The V6 is optional in the SLE-2 and the SLT-1 and standard on the SLT-2 and the Denali.

Safety

Because it's so new, the 2017 GMC Acadia has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But we have high hopes for the latest model, as the previous Acadia earned a perfect 5-star rating from NHTSA and strong scores from IIHS.

As for safety features, all Acadia models come with the basics, including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and a backup camera. Safety options are plentiful and include a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, automatic high beams, GM's Safety Alert Seat and adaptive cruise control.

Behind the Wheel

The latest GMC Acadia is certainly more maneuverable than its predecessor. Smaller sizing and more direct handling and steering give the SUV a peppy, drivable feel, especially in tight spaces like parking garages or crowded city streets. We're also impressed with the SUV's improved visibility, its enhanced interior and its muscular optional V6, which offers more power than the 6-cylinder engines installed in virtually every rival.

Of course, there are drawbacks. Rear-seat room remains generous, but third-row room has been dramatically cut to the point where it's now pretty tight, even among similarly sized rivals. The same goes for cargo volume, which also sees a decline this year. And while we're impressed with the long list of features and equipment offered by the Acadia, we can't help but wonder if interior materials couldn't improve at least a little bit to bring the SUV up to par with some slightly nicer rivals.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Explorer -- Ford's recently updated Explorer remains near the top of the segment thanks to revisions that include new styling, new features and an excellent new infotainment system.

2016 Honda Pilot -- Recently redesigned with a new look and more equipment, the Pilot is now better than ever, and it warrants a spot on your shopping list.

2016 Toyota Highlander -- Still one of the top midsize SUVs on the market, the Highlander offers excellent dependability, lots of equipment, generous space, a comfortable ride and an available hybrid powertrain.

Used GMC Yukon -- If you like the Acadia's design and equipment but need more power or features, consider a used Yukon instead. It offers more passenger room, more cargo room and more grunt for towing or hauling.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd go with an Acadia SLT-1 or SLT-2. The SLT models are pricey, but they're also very well equipped, boasting a long list of today's latest safety features and technology. With that said, it's hard to deny the impressive value of a base-level Acadia SL, assuming you don't mind the slow 4-cylinder engine.

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