General Motors [NYSE: GM] may be attempting to put its days of nearly identical, “brand-engineered” models behind it—especially with respect to the ever-growing crossover utility market.
One such example is the new 2017 GMC Acadia that was introduced earlier this month at the Detroit Auto Show.
On the second press day of the show, representatives of rival automakers were practically swarming the Acadia, some with measuring tape out, and more than one overheard talking about its “new form factor.”
In all fairness, it’s no outlier; the Acadia will now go more directly up against the likes of the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Toyota Highlander.
While the new 2017 Acadia is a step smaller overall than the 2016 GMC Acadia it replaces, don’t expect the Buick Enclave, or even the Chevrolet Traverse, to make a quite the same downsize move.
A realignment of utility vehicles at GM
The Acadia is part of a “realignment” that spans across the utility-vehicle lineup at GM. Looking ahead, GM will continue to offer plenty of crossover choices—including a slightly smaller version of the Terrain that’s expected this next year.
2017 GMC AcadiaEnlarge Photo
In the meantime, there’s still significant enough size differentiation between the new Acadia and the current Terrain—including an interior design in the new Acadia that's both more contemporary and finely detailed as well as more closely influenced by GMC's full-size truck interiors.
“Where we were before, we did really well,” said GMC spokesman Brian Goebel. “This is more heart-of-the-market, which also leaves more room for growth for the brand.”
The 2017 GMC Acadia, at about 194 inches long, is about 7 inches shorter than the 2016 Acadia; furthermore it’s built on a wheelbase that’s 6.4 inches shorter—112.5 inches, shared with the Cadillac XT5 that’s built on the same platform and also assembled at Spring Hill, Tennessee, alongside the new Acadia.
The new 2017 model is also narrower (4.5 inches) and shorter in overall height (3.9 inches) versus the previous model.
Lighter and smaller, but still three-row
GMC notes that the 2017 Acadia is 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor, which allows it to use a dramatically downsized engine lineup, including a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or optional 3.6-liter V-6. Four-cylinder models deliver an estimated 22 mpg city, 28 highway (with standard engine stop-start tech), while the V-6 makes 310 hp but is still rated 25 mpg and can pull up to 4,000 pounds.
The new Acadia’s turning circle is also nearly two feet smaller in radius than the previous model, which should make this three-row crossover a lot easier to maneuver in tight spaces. And top Acadia Denali models will include an active suspension and special all-wheel drive system that together aim for better road performance.
2017 GMC Acadia - 2016 Detroit Auto Show live photosEnlarge Photo
Expect replacements for the current Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse—both not yet announced—are slated to share the same scalable platform but be somewhat larger and swoopier.
For now, this chunky, upright three-row 2017 Acadia is looking like everything the market needs, with a different kind of chiseled, truck-influenced charm that's bound to be popular.