2013 GMC Acadia Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 21, 2013

The 2013 GMC Acadia's chiseled, rugged look masks a family-friendly cabin and smooth street performance.

There are more than just well-muscled work trucks and burly sport-utes under the GMC umbrella, and the Acadia makes for one of the two crossovers also developed by the brand. It's the larger of the two: an eight-passenger companion to the five-seat Terrain, and a more masculine alternative to minivans on the market today.

Over its five years on the market, the GMC Acadia hasn't changed a lot. It's been given a light facelift that doesn't alter its handsome looks a lot--mostly, it chisels off its rear glass in a way that recalls the old Saturn Outlook. It's still the best-looking of its remaining family, which includes the closely related Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.

The most obvious changes to the new Acadia occur on the outside. In the front, there’s a new three-bar grille, bold and upright. LED daytime running lamps, new taillight design, wraparound rear glass and a new rear spoiler add to the exterior changes. Upgraded soft-touch materials, French stitching, and red ambient lighting dress up the interior, while SLT and Denali models receive aluminum accents on the doors, dash and center console.

Unlike GMC's traditional trucks and SUVs, the 2013 GMC Acadia doesn't leave a lot of room for powertrain choice. With a standard 288-horsepower V-6 and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the Acadia is strong enough for most family duty. Ride quality is well balanced, too, with new dual-flow damper shocks for 2013 further helping the ride-versus-handling tradeoff.

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The Acadia makes good use of the potential space under its rather boxy profile, with excellent seating comfort and a tight, quiet cabin--although the floor sits a little higher than in some other crossover vehicles. A third-row seat is included in all Acadia models, and whether you go for the captain's chairs or the bench in back you get adult-sized accommodations (they're also heated and cooled in the Denali), and they slide fore and aft for more space in the third row. And with the third row up, the Acadia has 24 cubic feet of room for cargo; fold down the second- and third-row seats, and it reveals 116 cubic feet of space.

GMC has also improved interior materials throughout the 2013 Acadia lineup, including more soft-touch materials, French stitching, and red ambient lighting. SLT and Denali models also get aluminum accents, with additional satin-chrome accents, perforated leather, and mahogany inserts in the Denali. The Denali also gets even quieter with an exclusive interior acoustic package.

Side Blind Zone and Rear Cross Traffic Alert have been added to the Denali's list of features for 2013. And that's on top of an already-robust list of standard features such as anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; front-seat side airbags, and curtain bags that reach to the third-row seat. The Acadia's crash-test ratings have been excellent, too.

The 2013 Acadia is offered in SLE, SLT, and Denali versions--although SLE2 and SLT2 trims add a few more features to each.The Acadia Denali is a luxury model in every way except the badge, so the price might be an issue for some shoppers.

Infotainment has been stepped up for the entire model line this year. Newly standard is a Color Touch Radio with touch-screen control (surrounded in some models by capacitive controls for audio and climate control), and navigation is available with the system. Also optional is IntelliLink, which adds Pandora and Stitcher internet radio capability plus hands-free voice controls. Auxiliary and USB inputs are provided, and the system includes a SiriusXM satellite radio tuner plus HD Radio compatibility, a photo viewer, and a built-in rear-vision camera.

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