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All-New Approach: 2017 GMC Acadia Changes Size

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia Buying Advice

This is the best crossover for you if you’re drawn to GMC’s new, downsized approach to upscale motoring. The ’17 Acadia is radically different from the 2007-2016 model, losing significant bulk and adding the choice of a four-cylinder-engine. It retains three seating rows, but capacity drops to seven passengers, from eight. There’s less passenger and cargo volume, but it’s easier to maneuver and more fuel-efficient. It offers just as many premium features, though, and has safety equipment unavailable on its predecessor.

Formerly as large as the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, Acadia is now a midsize-class rival to the likes of the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. Compared to the outgoing version, it’s 6.4 inches shorter in wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles), 7.2 inches shorter overall, 3.5 inches narrower, and nearly 700 pounds lighter. As an SUV with car-like unibody construction rather than truck-type body-on-frame engineering, the ’07 Acadia was GMC’s first crossover. It shared its underskin architecture with the premium-class Buick Enclave, less costly Chevrolet Traverse, and discontinued Saturn Outlook. They led their competitive sets for cargo capacity but were slower, heavier, and less fuel-efficient than most rivals. For 2017, Enclave and Traverse continue on the old platform, as does a GMC version dubbed the Acadia Limited.

Should you buy a 2017 model or wait for the ’18?

Don’t expect worth-waiting-for changes to the 2018, since the ’17 is brand new. Perhaps the more pertinent question is, should get the redesigned Acadia or the Limited. If you want maximum space for passengers and gear, consider the Acadia Limited or a 2016 Acadia, still a refined and pleasant, if unexciting, vehicle. If you’re looking more for the latest styling and technology, go with the redesigned model. Its lineup begins with the base SL model and ascends through volume SLE and SLT, to the top-line Denali. The SLE and SLT are further sub-divided into SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, and SLT-2 variants. Front-wheel drive is standard on all but the Denali. It comes with all-wheel drive (AWD), which is available on all but the SL model.

Changes

Styling:

While most rivals have rounded contours, the ‘17 Acadia’s squared-off appearance is more reminiscent of traditional truck-type SUVs. The upright look is in keeping with GMC’s tough, but upscale “Professional Grade” persona. All have swept-back wrap-around headlights. LED daytime running lights are standard on all but the SL. Non-Denali versions sport a prominent three-bar grille, which we think looks better than the Denali’s flatter one, which has a cutout pattern that resembles a cheese grater. An All Terrain Package for the SLE-2 and SLT-1 provides a body-color grille with black chrome trim and unique wheels. It also has specific interior accents and under-floor storage bins in lieu of a third-row seat.

Passenger room in the first two seating rows is slightly less than that of the outgoing model, but it is still competitive with its rivals. Its smaller overall size takes a toll on the third row, which has about 2 inches less headroom and legroom than the ’16. Medium-sized adults can fit back there but they’ll only be comfortable for short trips. Accessing the third row requires some contortion that isn’t required in a Highlander, Pilot, or Nissan Pathfinder. Cargo room is where the 2017 Acadia really takes a hit. Folding the second- and third-row seats results in just 79 cubic feet of volume, which is among the lowest figures in the class and more than 35 cubic fewer than that of its predecessor.

Mechanical:

This is one of the few three-row crossovers of any stripe to offer a choice of a four- or six-cylinder engines. The four is a 2.5-liter rated at 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. It’s standard on the SL, SLE, and front-drive SLT-1. The V-6 is a 3.6-liter with 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. It’s a $1,095 option on the SLE and front-drive SLT-1 and standard on the SLT-2, Denali, and AWD SLT-1. Both engines pair with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Available on the AWD SLE-2 and AWD SLT-1, the All Terrain Package adds a more sophisticated AWD system with settings that can be adjusted to varying on and off-road conditions, along with hill-descent control. It does not include of low-range gearing, so severe off-roading is not really in the picture.

Despite class-leading horsepower and a competitive curb weight, the V-6 Acadia doesn’t feel any faster than a comparable Highlander, Honda Pilot, or Hyundai Santa Fe. Blame the somewhat lazy transmission. If it had eight gears instead of six, throttle response and fuel economy would improve. We haven’t had an opportunity to test the four-cylinder engine, but bearing in mind that it still has to move nearly two tons of vehicle, it’s probably a better bet to spend the extra money on the V-6.

Its tidier dimensions and lower weight do translate into better on-road handling and close-quarters maneuverability. Steering feel is a bit lifeless, but body lean in fast turns is well controlled. While it’s still physically larger than GMC’s five-seat Terrain crossover, Acadia actually has a smaller turning radius.

Features:

The SL is fairly basic for the most part, but it does include niceties such as three-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, rearview camera, and a built-in 4G LTE WiFi hotspot with data supplied by GM’s OnStar service. The SLE-1 adds LED daytime running lights and satellite radio.

Most buyers will likely opt for the SLE-2 or SLT-1. The former includes a programmable power rear liftgate, heated front seats, fog lights, power driver seat, remote engine start, and second-row bucket seats, which replace the standard three-across bench. Note that you can order the bench for no extra charge. The SLT-1 adds leather upholstery, power front-passenger seat, Bose-brand audio system, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-obstacle detection, and an 8-inch dashboard touchscreen for IntelliLink, which replaces lesser models’ 7-inch unit.

SLT-2 buyers get 20-inch wheels (up from the SLT-1’s standard 18s), driver-seat memory, heated outboard second-row seats, low-speed front automatic braking, automatic high-beam headlights, front-obstacle alert with pedestrian detection, forward-collision alert, and automatic steering to keep you in your lane. The range-topping Denali gets unique exterior styling with polished wheels, bright roof rails, and xenon headlights, a hands-free power liftgate, ventilated front seats, and a heated power tilt/telescopic steering wheel.

Prices

With a base-price range of $29,995-$45,845 – and AWD adding $2,000-$2,395, depending on model – the ’17 Acadia is priced with the midsize-crossover mainstream, despite having a bearing that approaches premium-class territory.

Base prices listed here are for front-wheel-drive models and include GMC’s $925 destination fee. The SL starts at $30,920, the SLE-1 at $34,300, and the SLE-2 at $36,920. The SLT-1 is priced from $40,200, the SLT-2 from $43,600, and the Denali from $46,770.

Any paint color other than white is $395-$995. Rear DVD entertainment is $1,995. The All Terrain Package is $2,045 on the AWD SLE-2 and $1,800 on the AWD SLT-1. The $790 Driver Alert Package I for the SLE-2 includes rear-obstacle detection, blind-spot alert, and rear cross-traffic alert. The SLE-2 can also be upgraded to the SLT’s 8-inch touchscreen for $920. In-dash navigation is $495 on the SLT-1 and SLT-2. Different 20-inch wheel designs are available for the SLE and SLT for $1,795-$2,295.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-ratings for the 2017 Acadia with front-wheel drive are 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined with the four-cylinder and 18/25/21 with the V-6. AWD versions rate 21/25/23 mpg with the four and 18/25/20 with the six. These figures are 3-4 mpg better than the outgoing Acadia but trail other V-6-powered three-row crossovers, such as the Nissan Pathfinder and Pilot. All Acadia models use regular-grade 87-octane fuel.

The four-cylinder includes an idle stop/start function that shuts off the engine at a stop and instantly restarts it when the driver releases their foot from the brake pedal. The V-6 has GM’s Active Fuel Management that shuts off three cylinders under cruising and light load conditions in order to save fuel.

Release Date

The redesigned 2017 GMC Acadia and holdover Acadia Limited went on sale in February 2016.

What’s next for the Acadia?

After its model-year 2007 launch, the first-generation Acadia went without a freshening until model-year 2013. We don’t think GM will wait as long to update the new Acadia, though any major changes probably won’t take place before model-year 2019 or 2020.

Competition

Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]