2011 GMC Acadia Review

Consumer Reviews
2 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
July 27, 2011

The 2010 GMC Acadia strikes a good balance: more useful than full-size SUVs for passenger duty, yet a lot better-looking than a minivan.

The 2011 GMC Acadia runs in an appealing middle ground between family-friendly crossovers and the serious, 'professional grade' truck look that is GMC. The Acadia can be ordered with either front-wheel drive or road-oriented all-wheel drive, and it offers much of the utility and comfort of a minivan, without the sliding doors.

The 2011 Acadia has one of the most attractive exteriors in its class paired with a very nicely dressed, albeit conservative, interior. On the outside, the Acadia is perhaps the best-looking of the GM large crossovers, including the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. The more chiseled look overall—along with the prominent wheel wells—includes plenty of cues that give nod to GMC's trucks, while the slightly chunkier sheetmetal fits its role of a casual blazer—dressy, but ready to get things done. Inside, the look is simple but also very nicely trimmed—a lower, more rounded take on the upright instrument panels in GMC trucks. The dark trims and satin-metallic finishes lend a nice touch, though up close the hard plastics are a but surprising in a vehicle of this price class.

The Acadia has a single powertrain, a 288-horsepower, direct-injection V-6, and standard six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is strong enough, but the transmission sometimes hunts around for the right gear, especially at suburban speeds, with some powertrain hesitation in the process. The GMC Acadia's optional AWD system (which can transmit as much as 65 percent of engine power to the rear wheels as necessary) is plenty for snow days, or muddy back roads on the way to the cabin, but it won't be suitable for full-on off-road adventuring. Trucklike towing capacity is there, though: up to 5,200 pounds, when properly equipped. Handling is surprisingly good for such a heavy vehicle; the Acadia has a four-wheel independent suspension and nice hydraulic-assist steering that is quite confidence-inspiring and agile overall.

Review continues below

Interior space and well-configured seating are what makes the 2011 GMC Acadia especially appealing. A third-row seat is standard, which yields room for seven or eight people altogether (depending on the configuration). And purely in terms of passenger layout, the Acadia is the closest GMC comes to offering a minivan. Front seating in the Acadia is firm yet plush, and the second row is adult sized and slides fore and aft to balance legroom with the third row. The third row's a real one, too—though harder to get to than in minivans—and behind it, there's even 20 cubic feet of additional storage space. Plus, folding down the second and third rows of seats yields a flat floor with over 115 cubic feet of space; about the only issue is the rather high cargo floor.

The Acadia's interior is tight and quiet, with excellent damping of road, wind, and engine noise. Build quality and switchgear is also top-notch, and controls are straightforward and will put the driver at ease compared to the complicated interfaces in some luxury crossovers. The only major disappointment in the 2011 GMC Acadia is the overly abundant swaths of hard, hollow-feeling plastic used throughout the instrument panel and center console.

While the GMC Acadia lineup is mostly carried over unchanged to 2011, an all-new, top-of-the-line GMC Acadia Denali trim joins the model line this year. In addition to significant cosmetic distinctions from the standard Acadia—including a new grille, front and rear bumpers, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and 20-inch wheels—Denali models will get tri-zone climate control; DVD navigation with real-time traffic; satellite radio; USB connectivity; Bluetooth connectivity; a power driver seat; remote start; leather upholstery; and heated and ventilated front seats.

Otherwise, the 2011 GMC Acadia comes in SL, SLE, SLT1, and SLT2 trim levels. Each comes with the aforementioned 3.6-liter V-6 engine, but interior appointments are quite different between trims. Acadia SL and SLE models come with a basic-looking but comfortable cloth upholstery, while SLT1 and SLT2 trims (and of course the Denali) get full leather. In the Denali, it's perforated leather, complemented by mahogany-wood inserts and leather steering-wheel and door trim.

7

2011 GMC Acadia

Styling

There isn't anything surprising about the way the 2011 GMC Acadia looks, but it's nicely dressed.

The 2011 GMC Acadia has one of the most attractive exteriors in its class paired with a very nicely dressed, albeit conservative, interior.

On the outside, the Acadia is perhaps the best-looking of the GM large crossovers, including the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. The more chiseled look overall—along with the prominent wheel wells—includes plenty of cues that give nod to GMC's trucks, while the slightly chunkier sheetmetal fits its role of a casual blazer—dressy, but ready to get things done.

Inside, the look is simple but also very nicely trimmed—a lower, more rounded take on the upright instrument panels in GMC trucks. The dark trims and satin-metallic finishes lend a nice touch, though up close the hard plastics are a but surprising in a vehicle of this price class.

Review continues below
7

2011 GMC Acadia

Performance

The 2011 GMC Acadia performs adequately, but it won't satisfy high-performance wants.

The 2011 GMC Acadia comes with a single powertrain, a 288-horsepower, direct-injection V-6, and standard six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is strong enough, but the transmission sometimes hunts around for the right gear, especially at suburban speeds, with some powertrain hesitation in the process.

The GMC Acadia's optional AWD system (which can transmit as much as 65 percent of engine power to the rear wheels as necessary) is plenty for snow days, or muddy back roads on the way to the cabin, but it won't be suitable for full-on off-road adventuring. Trucklike towing capacity is there, though: up to 5,200 pounds, when properly equipped.

Handling is surprisingly good for such a heavy vehicle; the Acadia has a four-wheel independent suspension and nice hydraulic-assist steering that is quite confidence-inspiring and agile overall.

Review continues below
9

2011 GMC Acadia

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 GMC Acadia is good for transporting the family in supreme comfort.

Interior space and well-configured seating are what makes the 2011 GMC Acadia especially appealing. A third-row seat is standard, which yields room for seven or eight people altogether (depending on the configuration). And purely in terms of passenger layout, the Acadia is the closest GMC comes to offering a minivan.

Front seating in the Acadia is firm yet plush, and the second row is adult sized and slides fore and aft to balance legroom with the third row. The third row's a real one, too—though harder to get to than in minivans—and behind it, there's even 20 cubic feet of additional storage space. Plus, folding down the second and third rows of seats yields a flat floor with over 115 cubic feet of space; about the only issue is the rather high cargo floor.

The Acadia's interior is tight and quiet, with excellent damping of road, wind, and engine noise. Build quality and switchgear is also top-notch, and controls are straightforward and will put the driver at ease compared to the complicated interfaces in some luxury crossovers. The only major disappointment in the 2011 GMC Acadia is the overly abundant swaths of hard, hollow-feeling plastic used throughout the instrument panel and center console.

Review continues below
9

2011 GMC Acadia

Safety

In safety, the GMC Acadia is real standout—even in a class of very safe vehicles—and one of the safest, most secure picks for hauling a large family.

With strong, carlike structures designed to protect passengers, and a stout design overall, the 2011 GMC Acadia promises top-notch safety—and, according to major safety ratings, it delivers that.

Crash-test results for the Acadia have been superb. In the tough new federal crash-test program introduced for 2011 models and run by NHTSA, the Acadia earns a top five-star overall rating—including four-star frontal and five-star side impact results. It even gets a top five-star score in the new side pole test, which simulates a crash against a tree or pole. And while the Acadia hasn't yet been put through the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) roof strength test, related to rollover protection, it's received nothing but top 'good' ratings in all the other categories.

This high level of safety includes a robust list of safety features; anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, front-seat side airbags, and full-length (including the third row) side-curtain bags are all standard. GM's OnStar communications system, very useful in summoning roadside assistance, or emergency crews in a crash, is also included.

Outward visibility, as with so many other tall crossovers, is the only other safety concern, and shorter drivers especially might have issues when changing lanes or backing up. Make sure you get the available rearview camera system, as it helps with parking.

Review continues below
9

2011 GMC Acadia

Features

Although GMC might be work-oriented in image, the 2011 Acadia Denali feels every bit a high-end luxury vehicle.

While the GMC Acadia lineup is mostly carried over unchanged to 2011, an all-new, top-of-the-line GMC Acadia Denali trim joins the model line this year.

In addition to significant cosmetic distinctions from the standard Acadia—including a new grille, front and rear bumpers, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and 20-inch wheels—drivers will get tri-zone cliamte control; DVD navigation with real-time traffic; satellite radio; USB connectivity; Bluetooth connectivity; a power driver seat; remote start; leather upholstery; and heated and ventilated front seats.

Otherwise, the 2011 GMC Acadia comes in SL, SLE, SLT1, and SLT2 trim levels. Each comes with the aforementioned 3.6-liter V-6 engine, but interior appointments are quite different between trims. Acadia SL and SLE models come with a basic-looking but comfortable cloth upholstery, while SLT1 and SLT2 trims (and of course the Denali) get full leather. In the Denali, it's perforated leather, complemented by mahogany-wood inserts and leather steering-wheel and door trim.

Standard features for all models include cruise control, full power accessories, front and rear air conditioning, and a full array of airbags. The SLT1 and SLT2 trims get a premium 10-speaker Bose system with a six-CD in-dash changer. Features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, power seats, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), GPS, a two-panel sunroof, XM NavTraffic, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, backseat DVD entertainment system, and tri-zone automatic climate control are also available as options in the higher trims. XM Satellite Radio is now standard on all models of the Acadia, and a USB port in the center console can play audio files through the Acadia's sound system, as well as charge certain devices—specifically, it works with your iPod. Other new options include a Cashmere Interior, as well as GMC Yukon Denali-style roof racks.

Review continues below
6

2011 GMC Acadia

Fuel Economy

The 2011 GMC Acadia isn't a particularly green choice, though if you need three rows of seating you could certainly do worse.

Thanks to the six-speed automatic transmission's wide span of gear ratios, GM boasts, the Acadia provides both impressive performance and fuel economy, but we haven't seen the latter.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city, 24 highway with front-wheel drive, or 16/23 with all-wheel drive. And these figures might even be a little optimistic; in repeat drives of the Acadia and its Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse siblings, The Car Connection has noted real-world figures near the bottom of that scale.

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August 31, 2015
2011 GMC Acadia FWD 4-Door SLE

A great auto that is quiet and rides comfortably.

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With the fold down seats I can use it like a truck. I have even had a 4x8 sheet of plywood in their. Rides great and smooth. I took it on a trip from Denver to Chattanooga and drove straight through, 22 hours... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2011 GMC Acadia FWD 4-Door SLE

Don't ever buy an Acadia

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This vehicle is by far thee worst vehicle I have ever owned. The ride is deplorable. You feel like your in a stagecoach. The interior is so chincy. All plastic. The seats are junk. a stupid plastic handle that... + More »
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Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 9
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