While most vehicles grow in size after a redesign, the 2017 GMC Acadia shrinks as it enters its second generation. The midsize SUV also goes on a diet and loses over 700 pounds when compared to the original. This big weight savings and a whole new architecture aim to make the crossover a lot more fun, and also more fuel efficient. The Acadia saw its best ever sales year in 2015 with 96,393 units reaching customers. Does the new Acadia deliver on all promises and can it capture even more customers?
The 2017 model shares its architecture with the new Cadillac XT5, which means that its exterior length is now 7.2 inches shorter than the outgoing model. GMC was able to carve out enough space for a three-row cabin. The second-row legroom even grows by a noticeable three inches. The third-row is usable by adults but my 6’2″ frame was tight on legroom and headroom in the back. Something had to give, and the 2017 Acadia has significantly less cargo capacity. The volume behind the third row goes down to 12.8 cu-ft and the total cargo volume with second and third rows folded is 79.0 cu-ft. The 2016 Acadia offered 116.2 cu-ft of cargo space. Still, the overall footprint of the second generation Acadia is slightly bigger than that of the Toyota Highlander, it’s about the same as a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and slightly smaller than a Ford Explorer.
GMC was able to remove around 700 pounds of weight out of the car by decreasing its size, using high-strength steel in the main structure, and using lighter materials in the interior. This opened up the options to offer a 2.5-liter I4 engine that uses Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and direct injection to make 194 horsepower at 6,300 rpm, and 190 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. This engine will be available in FWD and AWD configurations. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and gets an EPA rating of 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Automatic engine stop-start features help to conserve fuel in city driving.
The “hot-rod” version of the Acadia gets a 3.6-liter V6 with VVT and direct injection and delivers an impressive 310 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 272 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Yes, these engines like to rev quickly and make their power near the top of the rev counter. Still, the power delivery is smooth and linear. The V6 Acadia moves out with authority. The exhaust note is characteristic of a powerful naturally aspirated V6.
The V6 offers an increase of 29 horsepower and 6 lb-ft of torque over the older version. The six-banger utilizes cylinder deactivation when full power is not required. It’s able to run in the V4 mode at a variety of cruising speeds. The transition from V6 to V4 and back is automatic and not perceptible, but there is an icon in the gauge cluster that lets you know about the shift. The big engine is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
GMC went with a more traditional powertrain package. There are no continuously variable transmissions (CVT), no turbochargers, and no electric hybrid system options at this time.
The new Acadia offers a sophisticated AWD system that allows the driver full control. The AWD system can be disconnected via a drive-mode selector on the center console. This allows for higher efficiency, and I saw 27.9 MPG on the trip computer during an impromptu test driving about 40 miles west of Washington D.C. on I-66. There are also normal AWD, Sport, Off-Road, and Trailer-Tow drive modes. Each mode tweaks the mapping and parameters of the steering, acceleration, and transmission.
There is a new All-Terrain version of the Acadia that uses a dual-clutch AWD system and a further tuned All-Terrain drive mode to get you out of sticky situations. It can shift torque front to back and side to side in search of best traction. I tried it on a muddy and steep dirt road and could not get the Acadia stuck. Ground clearance and tire choice are the same on the All-Terrain versus other AWD Acadias.
The 2017 Acadia can be configured with an entire host of active driver assistance and passive safety technologies. You can option it with Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Automatic Brake with Pedestrian Detection features. This is par for the course with the luxury crossovers, but the Acadia plays in a more mainstream market space.
A quick first test of the Lane Keep system revealed that it functions in much the same way as a system on a Honda Pilot or an Acura MDX. It is able to detect highway lanes accurately but still requires driver steering inputs. If lets on its own for a few seconds, the SUV has a tendency to meander from one side of the lane to the other.
The Adaptive Cruise Control system works with confidence, detects the vehicles ahead as expected, can bring the Acadia to a full stop when following a vehicle in traffic, but the brake and accelerator inputs are not as smooth as some other systems (such as in an Audi Q5).
There is also an industry-exclusive system called Rear Seat Reminder. If the rear doors are used, the vehicle will remind you with a “Look in the rear seat” message in the gauge cluster and a chime when you leave the vehicle. According to GM, more than 20 children die every year due to overheating in vehicles. This feature can be disabled, but GMC hopes it will at least raise awareness of children or animals being left in unattended cars.
Interestingly, the first generation 2016 GMC Acadia will remain on sale into the foreseeable future, even as the all-new 2017 model goes on sale in late spring of 2016. The 2016 Acadia will be renamed to “Acadia Limited” and will be well-optioned. The two generations are produced at separate factories, so they can coexist in the marketplace as long as GMC chooses to do so.
The starting price for the 2017 GMC Acadia is an aggressive $29,995 before destination charges for a FWD model with the four cylinder. Here is how this starting price compares to the some of the main competitors.
|2016 Kia Sorento||$25,100|
|2016 Nissan Pathfinder||$29,830|
|2017 GMC Acadia||$29,995|
|2016 Honda Pilot||$30,145|
|2016 Toyota Highlander||$30,490|
|2016 GMC Acadia||$30,975|
|2016 Ford Explorer||$31,050|
|2016 Chevy Traverse||$31,205|