- Denali offers real luxury
- Improved handling
- Not as thirsty
- Still has room for seven
- Loads of available active safety features
- New 4-cylinder struggles
- Not as much cargo space
- Denali is luxury, but is GMC?
- All Terrain isn't as much of an off-roader as the name suggests
The 2017 GMC Acadia wears its new, smaller size well, offering good room for up to seven, improved dynamics and fuel economy, plenty of features, and a touch of family luxury.
In an automotive landscape where vehicles grow larger with each successive generation, the GMC Acadia gets considerably smaller and lighter with its 2017 redesign. Maximum seating capacity also drops from eight to seven, and a 4-cylinder engine is newly available in addition to a V-6.
The new Acadia earns a 7.3 out of 10 on our ratings scale, thanks to good features and its stylish approach. It has room to improve on fuel economy and our overall rating will be more comprehensive once safety is factored into the overall number. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
Though smaller in size, the 2017 GMC Acadia does a good job of balancing its family-oriented crossover intentions with a tough, truck-like look, while also imparting a feeling of luxury. It isn't as blocky as some GMCs, but those angular elements are still there. The grille is as bold as it's ever been, but it trades a rectangular look for a trapezoidal shape. Along the sides, the body is more sculpted, there is a prominent kick up along the window line at the third pillar, and the rear side window glass appears to wrap around the back of the vehicle. The high-end Denali model gets plenty of chrome trim for a luxury look, and the new All Terrain model features blacked out trim.
Take 7 inches of length and 740 pounds out of a vehicle and you are certainly going to improve the handling. The 2017 GMC Acadia is much easier to maneuver in tight spots and more responsive to driver inputs than the large, but pleasant, model it replaces. There is still some lean in turns, but it's less noticeable, and there is a slight bit of wobble at highway speeds, a result of the tall ride height. A Traction Select system with a Sport mode adds some weight to the steering and firms up the dampers in Denalis equipped with the optional Continuously Variable Ride Control system.
Most buyers will likely opt for the 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6, and with good reason. It gets the Acadia moving briskly, hitting 60 mph in as little as 6.5 seconds, and it has plenty in reserve for highway passing. The new 194-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is actually quite acceptable for everyday driving with a light load. It offers good initial response, but runs out of breath when pushed hard, and 0 to 60 mph takes at least 9.3 seconds.
Comfort, safety, and features
The greatest advantage of the outgoing Acadia was its interior space. GMC gives up that advantage to play more in the mainstream this time around. Maximum passenger capacity falls by one, and maximum cargo space drops by 36 cubic feet.
But that doesn't mean there isn't still lots of space. The second row slides fore and aft a few inches and it offers good space. Throw a couple people in back, though, and you’ll have to play a game of give and take to balance second- and third-row passenger space. Those third-row occupants should probably be kids, though. Access to the third row is made easy by the passenger side Smart Slide second-row seat.
The All Terrain model foregoes a third-row seat, providing instead a rack that can be moved a couple of feet forward and back and used to hold cargo in place.
The Acadia’s cabin is suitably upscale. The door panels and dashboard feature soft-touch surfaces, and the center stack is ringed in metal trim. Our only complaint is the plastic trim in some models that does a poor job of approximating wood.
The IIHS has rated the new Acadia for safety, and gave the hauler a Top Safety Pick nod. Federal testers gave the SUV a five-star overall score, including four stars for rollover safety, which is a calculated score rather than an actual test.
GMC offers the Acadia with a host of safety features, including a surround-view camera system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alerts, front park assist, pedestrian detection with low-speed automatic braking, and forward collision warning with emergency braking. The alerts for many of these features are handled by GM’s Safety Alert seat that vibrates in the direction of the warning. GMC also has a rear-seat reminder system to alert parents that they may have left kids in the car.
The 2017 GMC Acadia is offered in SE, SLE, SLT, All Terrain, and Denali models. Pricing starts at $29,995 for an SE with front-wheel drive and ranges up to $47,845 for a Denali with all-wheel drive. Options can push that total past $50,000.
The new All Terrain comes with an Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that can transfer torque both forward to rear and left to right. It also has an All Terrain setting in place of the Off Road setting of other AWD models; GMC says it delivers enhanced hill climbing capability. However, it does not offer other off-road features like tow hooks, knobby tires, or improved approach and departure angles.
The Denali model is loaded with such luxuries as a hands-free power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, an 8.0-inch configurable instrument panel display, and a heated steering wheel. The Denali is also the only Acadia offered with Continuously Variable Ride Control.
GMC's Intellilink infotainment system is updated this year. The 8.0-inch center touchscreen carries over, but it adds Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility, as well as access to three new apps: Glympse, The Weather Channel, and At Your Service. A new my GMC mobile app also lets owners control several features of the Acadia remotely.