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- Denali edition may as well be a Caddy
- Exceptionally roomy
- Seats up to eight
- Safety scores are segment-best
- Handling is more crossover than SUV
- Is GMC a luxury badge?
- Automatic is smooth but can hesitate
- Infotainment is good, not standard
- Feels every bit of its 5,000 pounds
The 2016 GMC Acadia is too big and heavy to deliver car-like performance, but it's pleasant to drive and has enough space to replace the minivan in your driveway.
The 2016 GMC Acadia, compared to its Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse stablemates, features a more pronounced grille, giving it a bolder, more truck-like look. The exterior also features LED daytime running lights up front and a small spoiler at the rear. The distinctive look makes the Acadia our favorite of this GM trio, which also used to include the Saturn Outlook.
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.
GMC made its name on pickup trucks, but over the past decade it's become equally well-known for its sport-utility and crossover vehicles. The Acadia isn't related at all to its workhorse trucks and full-size SUVs—instead, it's an eight-passenger crossover that tackles the passenger-hauling duties for the brand.
The 2016 Acadia is offered in SLE, SLT, and Denali versions—although SLE2 and SLT2 trims add a few more features to each. The only revision of note for 2016 is the addition of 4G LTE connectivity to the standard OnStar telematics system. If can turn the Acadia into a moving wi-fi hotspot.
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.
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 the second row 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. 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 a cavernous 116 cubic feet of space.
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 touchscreen control is standard; it's surrounded in some models by capacitive controls for the audio and climate systems, and navigation is available as well.
Also optional is IntelliLink, which provides access to Pandora and Stitcher internet radio 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.
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.
With excellent crash-test scores, the Acadia is one of the safest vehicles on the road. Blind-spot monitors are standard, on top of a robust list of standard features such as a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, and curtain airbags that reach to the third-row seat.
Weighing in at around 5,000 pounds, the GMC Acadia counts fuel economy among its weaknesses. The 2016 GMC Acadia carries EPA fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined with front-wheel drive, and 16/23/19 mpg with all-wheel drive.