Road Test: 2017 GMC Acadia AWD

The 2017 GMC Acadia is all new, with a redefined purpose and goal. No longer competing with Enclave and Traverse cousins, the Acadia defies the norm in today’s vehicles of getting slighter larger when redesigned.

Acadia shrinks a bit in most respects, aiming more for five passenger duty than seven passengers.  We spent a week behind the wheel of an All Terrain model which slots in just below the top-dog Denali.

Ride and Handling
Acadia rides comfortable and handles securely. It feels rigid and capable, more off-road capable than the previous generation. Bumps and potholes are absorbed with a solid thud, even while wearing rugged looking two-tone 20″ alloys.

Braking
Smooth and linear pedal feel with confidence-inspiring feedback; much better than the previous Acadia.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy
Acadia is available with a four-cylinder on base models but the ubiquitous 3.6L V6 is best balance of power, fuel economy, towing capacity and people hauling capability. The engine generates 310 HP and 271 lb-ft of torque, routing it through a 6-speed automatic. Active Fuel Management turns off two cylinders in several scenarios, from highway cruising to drive around town, helping boost fuel efficiency. The system is seamless, with the only indicator being in the Driver Information Center displaying V6 or V4.

Power delivery is instantaneous and downshifts happen quickly, inspiring confidence while also adding a bit of excitement to this somewhat large crossover. An advanced AWD system is part of the All Terrain package along with hill descent control. Dual exhaust outlets out back with chrome tips look great.

Fuel economy of our AWD tester during a week of driving averages in at 22.7 mpg, astonishing given the power on tap and hauling ability. The EPA rates the Acadia at 18/25/20 (city/highway/combined).

Noise
Road and wind noise are well muted. The engine generates a smooth and refined purr when accelerating that disappears once at cruising speed.

Headlights
Good halogen headlights but the intensity could be improved. The high beams work well. Automatic high beams are available with Driver Alert Package 2 but our tester was not equipped with it.

Interior Fit and Finish
GMC designers did an excellent job of taking it up a notch with the Acadia; materials all around feel of quality, with soft-touch plastics and consistent grains. The two-tone black and Kalahari interior feels unique and upscale.

Seating
Our All Terrain model featured power, heated front seats with power lumbar. The seats are wide and supportive, excellent on long trips. The door armrests could be a bit more padded though.

Second row comfort is excellent, with an expansive amount of legroom and multi-adjustable 60/40 seats.

Cargo room is expansive and the second row seats can be folded from the cargo area using remote release levers. The tailgate is power operated and height adjustable. The optional cargo management system on our vehicle is an excellent addition and adds to the functionality of the cargo area.

Visibility
Visibility is very good all around, with the high seating position contributing to that.  The standard backup camera makes parking situations easier.

Gauges and Controls
Crisp, well-lit gauges and controls provide all information at a quick glance. Knobs and buttons are large and easy to use while the Acadia is moving.

Everything is well-organized and group together in a logical way. Keyless access with push-button start is priceless.

Infotainment
GMC IntelliLink is one of the best systems we’ve tested. Featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the engineers behind this system have refined it to the point where it’s much safer to use while driving, very intuitive, and responsive. The 8-inch display is crisp, with colors and fonts that are easy on the eyes.

USB, CD, HD and XM radio, and Bluetooth streaming inputs provide endless entertainment. The Bose 8-speaker system sounds excellent, with strong bass and high quality speakers.

There’s a total of 5 USB ports, two in front, two in the second row and one in the third row/cargo area, along with a 120V household stole outlet and 12V outlets.

Crash-Avoidance
Acadia is available with two “driver alert” packages, the first includes blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and park assist sensors in the rear. Driver alert package 2 adds low speed front auto brake, front pedestrian detection, auto high beams, front park assist sensors, lane keep assist, following distance indicator, and the safety alert driver’s seat which vibrates instead of audible beeps.

We didn’t have the opportunity to test either package as they weren’t on our vehicle.

Crash Test Results
The 2017 Acadia aced IIHS testing, earning a Top Safety Pick award and all 5 stars in the NHTSA crash testing program.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 9
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 9
Headlights 7
Interior Fit and Finish 9
Seating 10
Visibility 9
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 5
Total Score 87
Facts
Make: GMC
Model: Acadia
Trim Level: SLT-1
Engine: 3.6L V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: All-Terrain, Dual Skyscape Sunroof, Navigation, Cargo Package
Base Price: $41,450
As-Tested Price: $48,065

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