By Bob Nagy
Redesigned from the ground up, the 2017 GMC Acadia boasts a sleeker look, enhanced technology and greater efficiency in a slightly smaller and significantly lighter package that “strategically repositions” this midsize SUV to further separate it from GMC’s full-size Yukon. Based on all-new platform architecture that also underpins the new Cadillac XT5, the recast Gen II Acadia still has 3-row seating for up to seven and generous cargo space but packs it into a more maneuverable and driver-friendly configuration. As part of its comprehensive recasting, the 2017 Acadia also gains a host of new assist systems and now offers a new 4-cylinder engine choice as well as its traditional V6, front-drive or a sophisticated 4-wheel drive system and a new off-road-focused All-Terrain variant.
Buyers in the market for a slick-looking, smooth-driving 3-row SUV with sophisticated character and all of the latest driver-assist tech should seriously consider checking out the all-new 2017 Acadia.
The 2017 Acadia is all-new, boasting more sophisticated platform architecture, sleeker styling and a better driving experience in a modestly downsized package that still offers 3-row seating for up to seven.
A smaller footprint and significant weight drop impart a new level of dynamic appeal to the remade Acadia in every configuration. Its measured rescaling to true midsize status trims the...
... turning circle by nearly two feet, which makes the Acadia notably easier to maneuver in parking lots or other tight confines. Although still biased more toward utility than sport, the Acadia’s new platform underpinnings -- including available Continuously Variable Ride Control on Denali models -- also raise its agility index when the going gets twisty while improving overall comfort and confidence during highway cruise mode. The new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is more than adequate for light-duty work, particularly in a front-drive configuration. However, buyers with anything more ambitious in mind -- including opting for all-wheel drive (AWD) -- would be better served by stepping up to the new 3.6-liter V6 that offers notably more power and torque with a minimal fuel economy penalty.
DRIVE MODE SELECTOR
A new feature on all Acadias, the Drive Mode Selector offers a choice of settings to optimize the powertrain and suspension response under all conditions, including a dedicated Trailer/Tow mode. The on-demand AWD system also features a fuel-saving 2x4 with positive AWD disconnect while All-Terrain models replace the Off-Road mode with an All-Terrain setting.
The new Acadia All-Terrain matches V6 power with a bespoke Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system that enhances traction on all surfaces and improves uphill climbing capability. The 5-passenger All-Terrain also features Hill Descent Control and swaps its 3rd-row seats for covered rear storage bins and a cargo management system.
Although its absolute scale has been trimmed a bit, the 2017 Acadia SUV’s cabin boasts an even more upscale character helped by a modern design that includes additional soft-touch surfaces, upgraded trim and active noise cancellation. Despite a wheelbase that now matches the compact 5-passenger GMC Terrain, the Acadia’s new architecture still allows for three adult-accommodating rows of seats. The second tier -- 60-40 bench or Captain’s Chairs -- features an upgraded Smart Slide system for easier access to the 50/50 third row and both fold flat to expand the fairly modest 12.8 cu. ft. of base cargo space to a quite usable 79.0 cu. ft. maximum.
The Acadia remake introduces a more sophisticated but still substantial look that’s skewed more towards contemporary crossover than conventional SUV. Subtle evolutions of established GMC design cues carry over in its grille, fascia treatments, fender arches and various other details, but the Acadia’s bodywork now features rounder and more aerodynamic contours and the windshield has an even sleeker rake. The primo Denali amps up its curb appeal with distinctive lighting treatments, shiny 20-inch alloy wheels and an extra dose of brightwork while the new All-Terrain signifies its more adventurous character with black chrome accenting and dark-tint 18-inch or 20-inch rims.
Even the base Acadia SL comes with tri-zone auto climate control, numerous power assists, a 7.0-inch Color Touch Screen, Keyless Open and Start, 5-year OnStar Basic Plan, support for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, five USB ports and the industry’s first rear-seat reminder safety alert system to prevent leaving kids or other valuables from being left behind. Moving up through the SLE/SLT ranks introduces everything from a power liftgate, 8.0-inch touchscreen with IntelliLink and SiriusXM Satellite Radio to leather upholstery, Bose audio and Navigation. The Denali and All-Terrain add distinctive cosmetic/convenience touches plus a full range of new driver assists.
The Acadia’s extras roster relates to its trim grade, with no AWD available on the entry-level SL. But the SLE-1 can be had with that and a rear-seat entertainment system while the SLE-2 offers Bose sound, upgraded infotainment choices and the Dual SkySkape 2-panel panoramic sunroof. It also offers a new Driver Alert Package I that brings Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist, all of which are found in the Denali’s more comprehensive -- and standard -- Driver Alert Package II that adds Pedestrian Detection and Forward Collision Alert with Low-Speed Automatic Braking.
The Acadia offers two new naturally aspirated engines, both backed by a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. Sole motivator in the base front-wheel-drive-only SL and standard in the SLE-1/SLE-2/SLT-1 models, the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder makes 194 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. The first GMC engine to feature Start-Stop technology, it earns GM-estimated 21/26-mpg EPA City/Highway marks in front-wheel drive (FWD) Acadia models and 21/25 in AWD variants. The new 3.6-liter V6 standard in all other Acadias makes a considerably stouter 310 horses and 271 lb-ft of torque but features Active Fuel Management that turns it into a V4 under light loads. It nets GM-estimated 18/25 mpg EPA numbers in both FWD and AWD configurations while raising the Acadia’s max tow rating from 1,000 to a still-modest 4,000 pounds.
194 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
190 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/26 mpg (FWD), 21/25 mpg (AWD)
310 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
271 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 18/25 mpg (AWD)
Part of the 2017 Acadia’s downsizing involved a commensurate trimming of its overall pricing. That leaves a base Acadia SL opening at just under $30,000 -- roughly $1,900 less than in 2016 -- which undercuts starting figures for 2016 versions of the Explorer, Pilot and Highlander. SLE Acadias commence closer to $33,500 and SLTs start nearer $39,500. An AWD upgrade adds about $2,000. Topping the range, the Acadia Denali starts at just under $46,000 (FWD) or $48,000 (AWD) with a loaded AWD topping out near $52,000. Kelley Blue Book has not yet determined a residual value for the 2017 GMC Acadia, but historically it has been substantially lower than the Explorer, Pilot and Highlander. KBB’s 5-Year Cost to Own figure for the 2017 Acadia also is still pending.