- Seats up to eight
- Handling is more crossover than SUV
- Denali edition may as well be a Caddy
- Safety scores are segment-best
- Exceptionally roomy
- Automatic is better, but still hesitates
- Is GMC a luxury badge?
- Feels every bit of its 5,000 pounds
- Infotainment is good, not standard
A modest performer but a people-carrying overachiever, the GMC Acadia stakes out a claim right at the edge of Minivan Territory.
It's easy to think of GMC as a truck brand, but it also fields some of General Motors' best-selling SUVs and crossovers. The Acadia's among them. New in 2008 and lightly refreshed recently, the family wagon is only related to the big Sierra trucks in its family name.The Acadia seats up to eight passengers, offers all-wheel drive, and pairs a big V-6 with an automatic transmission. If it grew a pair of sliding side doors, it'd be a minivan--it already has all the other core minivan attributes, from vast interior space, to fold-away third-row seating, to optional rear-seat entertainment systems.
Last year, the Acadia received a mild facelift that really didn't change its handsome look. The rear glass is a bit more angular, and the grille is a bit more assertive to go with LED daytime running lamps. A small rear spoiler caps it off. The Acadia's still our favorite of its family, which used to include the Saturn Outlook, and still counts the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse as members.Inside, the Acadia has a straightforward cockpit, with soft-touch materials, French stitching, and red ambient lighting. The most expensive Denali version gets aluminum door, dash and center console trim.
A single powertrain drives all Acadias, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The 288-horsepower V-6 is strong enough for most family duties, but it's taxed by the crossover's hefty 5,000-pound curb weight and a transmission that can be reluctant to downshift. A well-balanced ride with premium shocks is the Acadia's real strength, and handling is modestly capable for its size.
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.With excellent crash-test scores, the Acadia is one of the safest vehicles on the road. Blind-spot monitors became standard last year, on top of an already-robust list of standard features such as anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; a rearview camera; front-seat side airbags; and curtain airbags that reach to the third-row seat.
The 2014 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. The usual power features are standard across the lineup, with leather standard on upper trims. As for infotainment, a Color Touch Radio with touch-screen control is now standard; it's 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. It's a simpler system than some of the touch or dial setups out there, but has a few of the same kinks to work out, particularly in voice recognition and address databases.