New & Used GMC Acadia: In Depth
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The GMC Acadia is a three-row crossover aimed at families who don't need a true full-size SUV and don't want a minivan. It's closely related to today's Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse, as well as the discontinued Saturn Outlook crossover. Within the GMC showroom, it's a more car-like alternative to the larger, truck-based Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs, and it sits above the mid-size Terrain crossover.
The Acadia seats up to eight passengers like a minivan, but it's more accurately described as a crossover vehicle since it offers all-wheel drive as an option, slightly more ground clearance, and lacks sliding side doors. As such, it's a rival for vehicles that also come very close to being minivans—models such as the Ford Flex, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.
MORE: Read our full review of the 2015 GMC Acadia
GMC introduced the Acadia for the 2007 model year. It shares its Lambda platform with several other current and past GM crossovers, and was originally intended to take up where three GMC and Pontiac vehicles—the Pontiac Montana SV6 minivan, the GMC Envoy and Envoy XL SUVs—left off. The Acadia is notable as being the first front-drive model from GMC as well as the brand's first unibody vehicle.
As it did at launch, the big GMC crossover still gets power from a 288-horsepower, direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Most of its rivals start several thousand dollars below this price point but are less powerful and can't match the Acadia's 5,200-pound towing capacity. The EPA rates the most efficient Acadia, the front-wheel-drive model, at 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway.
The Acadia can be ordered with all-wheel drive, but since there’s no four-wheel-drive low range, it really doesn't provide a lot of off-road capability. Like most crossovers, it's intended to help drivers get through sloppy weather on the road, not off.
The Acadia has a practical layout that sits somewhere between a minivan and a GMC Yukon. It can fit either seven or eight passengers in three rows of seats, depending on whether a bench or a pair of captain's chairs are selected for the second row. The third row is actually useful, and even when it's being used the Acadia offers 20 cubic feet of storage space behind. With all of the seats folded, the space expands to 115 cubic feet.
The Acadia comes in four trim levels: SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali. Standard features for all models include cruise control, full power accessories, front and rear air conditioning, and a full array of airbags. Options include 20-inch chrome wheels, unique roof racks and an iPod/USB port located in the bin atop the center air vents. The Denali doesn't get a distinct drivetrain, but it does receive a different grille and bumpers, HID headlamps, 20-inch wheels, three-zone climate control, DVD navigation with real-time traffic, Bluetooth connectivity, leather trim, and heated and ventilated front seats.
The 2012 Acadia got two new colors and an accessory power outlet on the console, plus new blind-spot mirrors. The Denali version also added hill-hold technology and brake override of the accelerator pedal.
For the 2013 model year, the Acadia at last got a more extensive refresh, including a completely new three-slot grille and front-end design, new LED running lamps, new taillamps, and a new rear spoiler, plus an upgraded interior with more soft-touch surfaces plus French stitching and ambient lighting. Denali models became even more luxurious, with a new power steering-column adjustment and power front passenger seat. Powertrains carried over, although GM did retune the transmission controls for smoothness.
Also for 2013, GMC updated the Acadia's infotainment offerings. New Color Touch Radio systems included HD Radio, satellite radio, and touch-screen center displays. GMC also fitted a new suite of active-safety options plus a standard front-center airbag system.
The Acadia has been carried over into the 2015 model year only lightly updated; a new model is expected soon, likely for the 2016 model year. It will be joined by revamped versions of the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse, and the trio's platform may also spawn a more luxurious version from Cadillac.