Completely redesigned, the 2017 GMC Acadia is substantially smaller and lighter than previous-generation (pre-2017) models. Vehicles typically grow bigger when they enter their next generation, but that didn’t happen with this all-new three-row crossover utility vehicle.
While its predecessor sat up to eight passengers, the 2017 Acadia seats seven. Interior space remains adequate for seven passengers, though cargo room has diminished.
Snipping seven inches out of the body length and losing 740 pounds in overall mass means improved handling. We found the 2017 Acadia responds better than its predecessor to driver inputs and is a lot easier to maneuver in tight spots.
Smaller and lighter allows a smaller, more efficient powertrain, and the 2017 Acadia makes a new four-cylinder engine available as an alternative to the optional V6. Developing 194 horsepower, the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is suitable for daily driving with a light load. Response is good initially, but the four-cylinder runs out of steam when pushed harder. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 21/26 mpg City/Highway.
The 3.6-liter V6 gets the Acadia briskly underway and delivers ample reserve power for highway passing. The V6 is rated at 310 horsepower. With the V6 and front-drive, Acadia is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive reduces the Combined estimate to 20 mpg.
A new All Terrain option includes an Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system that can transfer torque both front to rear, and left to right. An All Terrain setting replaces Off Road mode in other AWD models. The All Terrain option forgoes a third-row seat, providing instead a rack that can be moved forward and back, to hold cargo in place.
Though smaller in size, the 2017 Acadia design manages to blend its family-oriented crossover status with a tough, truck-like appearance. Angular elements are still evident, but the 2017 Acadia isn’t as blocky as some GMC models.
Posh Denali trim is loaded with such luxuries as a hands-free power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats. Acadia Denali is the only model with Continuously Variable Ride Control.
GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system retains its 8-inch touchscreen, but adds Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility.
Available safety features include a 360-degree camera, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with emergency braking. The Safety Alert seat vibrates in the direction of the warning. A rear-seat reminder can warn that kids may be left in the car, or the driver is exiting.
The 2017 GMC Acadia is available with front-drive or all-wheel drive and a choice of engines.
Acadia SL ($29,995) comes with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, seven-passenger seating, keyless entry and start, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen, and rearview camera. Acadia SLE-1 ($33,375) adds SiriusXM satellite radio, carpeted mats, LED daytime running lights, and a compact spare tire. SLE-2 ($35,995) gets a programmable power liftgate, heated front seats, six-passenger seating, and 8-way power driver’s seat, and foglamps. Seven-passenger seating, the V6 engine, two-panel sunroof, and Driver Alert package are optional.
Acadia SLT-1 ($39,275) includes a power front passenger seat, perforated leather-appointed seats, auto-dimming driver’s mirror, Bose 8-speaker audio, Driver Alert package, and 120-volt outlet. SLT-2 ($42,675) adds the V6 engine, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, memory package, and heated second-row seats.
Acadia Denali ($45,845) comes with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, a unique grille, 8-inch color touchscreen navigation with IntelliLink, heated/ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and bright roof rails.
Along with smaller size, the 2017 Acadia exhibits slightly softer body styling. Refined throughout, the latest Acadia looks more sculpted than its predecessor.
Still bold, the new grille is trapezoidal rather than rectangular. A pronounced kick-up is evident at the third pillar, and rear side glass appears to wrap into the back of the vehicle.
GMC installs different grilles on each model. Denali’s grille flaunts its abundant chrome, applied in a checkered mesh pattern. The All Terrain version is blacked-out, with horizontal bars and black mesh highlights. Lower-end Acadias have chrome grille surrounds.
Denali displays even more body chrome, and rides on unique six-spoke 20-inch wheels.
Slimmed down, the 2017 Acadia seats seven rather than the previous eight. Second-row captain’s chairs may be substituted for the standard bench, for six-passenger capacity. Soft-touch surfaces adorn door panels and the dashboard.
Front passengers get ample head space and legroom, atop comfortable bucket seats. Second-row seats slide several inches fore and aft, to allow extra leg space for passengers, when desired. Children are the most logical occupants for the third row. Legroom is tight back there, and the cushion is low.
With all seats up, cargo volume totals a mere 12.8 cubic feet. Folding both back rows expands space to 79 cubic feet. The two-row All Terrain version includes a sliding cargo rack.
Lighter in weight than its predecessor, the redesigned 2017 Acadia is easier to maneuver. The new four-cylinder engine feels overmatched when the vehicle is loaded, but acceleration is surprisingly swift with V6 power, accompanied by a gratifying growl. GMC claims 0-60 mph acceleration near 6.5 seconds, a rapid performance for a crossover vehicle.
With all-wheel drive and the V6, an Acadia feels a touch heavy; but that sensation is less evident with front-drive or the four-cylinder. A bit of body lean might still be felt during turns. So might a touch of wobble on the highway, due to tall ride height.
Like many comparable vehicles, the Acadia is short on road feel, but steering is reasonably direct. Somewhat surprisingly, Sport mode adds a healthy dose of firmness, without impairing ride comfort. In a Denali fitted with Continuously Variable Ride Control, switching to Sport also tightens the adjustable shock absorbers.
Traction Select adjusts performance in accord with road conditions, altering shift points and steering weight. With a towing package installed, a V6 Acadia can tow as much as two tons.
Reduced weight and smaller dimensions help boost gas mileage. So does stop/start technology in the four-cylinder engine. Even with Active Fuel Management that can shut down two engine cylinders, the V6 isn’t as fuel-efficient as some competitors.
A front-drive Acadia with the 2.5-liter engine is EPA-rated at 21/26 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the highway figure to 25 mpg. With the V6 and front-drive, Acadia is EPA-rated at only 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive reduces the Combined estimate to 20 mpg.
In its new trimmed-down, lightened form, the 2017 Acadia offers improved handling as well as better fuel economy, while conveying a welcome touch of family-focused luxury, especially in costly Denali trim. Considering the Acadia’s price, the cabin is upscale, with an impressive list of features.
Driving impressions by Kirk Bell, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.