With the look of a truck and the drive of a trusted family car, the GMC Acadia's latest model is a continuation of the significant changes that the 2017 edition underwent. The family-friendly vibe continues with third-row seating and a lighter body that's easier to maneuver. The fuel economy numbers are respectable and reaffirms the idea that GMC is looking to straddle the five- and seven-passenger SUV models to appeal to both markets. It's a people mover and a people pleaser.
So if it's not quite a car and not quite a truck, what is it?
As the crossover/SUV market gets more popular, it inevitably gets more varied. The spectrum grows to include everything from hatchbacks on the one end to monster trucks on the other. The Acadia falls somewhere on the spectrum of truck body and car brains, and an interior that streamlines an SUV's seating and cargo spaces while still maintaining the capacity for which the SUV is known. At least, sort of. GMC is trying to please everyone the Acadia makes some compromises that both allow it to cover a wide range of car buyers preferences without making a distinctive statement one way or the other. The engine and performance is a telling example of this middle of the road strategy. The standard engine is a 193 hp 2.5 liter inline 4, but you can opt for a 310 hp 3.6 liter V-6, with both front or all-wheel drive. The first might put the Acadia smack in the middle of crossover territory while the second elevates it to at least an SUV. The V-6 engine delivers considerably more power, but it's quick start, and twitchy throttle makes for a pretty abrupt kickoff. It reclaims the road after that, but in the turns, you'll feel the weight of the car, and the steering, while adequate, will never make you think it's a BMW or even a Dodge Durango. The towing capacity of the 2.5 is 1000 pounds, but the V-6 goes up to 4000, which is still below its class. All told, this is a solid option for a family vehicle if that family is on the move but packing lightly.
How much, and how many people, can I really fit into the Acadia?
The three rows of seating advertise a seven-person capacity, but the last row of seating is best left for children, as it's too tight to expect adults to hop in for the ride reasonably. The first two rows have standard head and legroom, and the first-row passenger seating is pretty spacious. Only the Acadia All Terrain model offers two rows of seating, as its, all wheel drive system takes up too much space to fit the third row. Contrary to what it might seem, this makes the All Terrain feel roomier than its brethren, though other models in the same class offer better room with more cargo space. Speaking of which, the shortened wheelbase and frame give you more versatility in driving and parking, but to do so, GMC has sacrificed some of the storage space you might expect from a car of this class. With all three rows of seats up, you can fit two pieces of carry on luggage in the back. Put those seats down, and space increases exponentially. The entire capacity of the cabin is 79 cubic feet, which beats out the Mazda CX-9 but is considerably smaller than the Chevy Traverse and Ford Explorer.
What are the infotainment options like?
The infotainment packages are the clearest sign that this is meant as a family vehicle, and it's got enough features to be considered a real contender if you're planning on taking long trips where boredom risks looming on the horizon. There are USB ports scattered throughout the cabin and a 4G LTE Wifi hotspot available, along with Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard features. There is only one 12 volt outlet in the cabin, located near the driver, but the kids these days have enough options for charging their devices that there shouldn't be too many arguments about who gets the plug. GMC's Intellilink infotainment system is one of the most user-friendly on the market, and it comes with a 7 or 8-inch touchscreen, depending on the trim. Upgrade to the Acadia SLT, and you'll get a Bose speaking system and built-in OnStar with six months free in your purchase price.
What's new with the exterior?
The Acadia dared to be different when the newest generation came out in 2017, and it continues this trend with a shorter body and wheelbase that makes the car much easier to maneuver and park, regardless of where you end up. It's also lower than a truck or SUV of its class and therefore much easier to get in and out of than its rivals. The downsizing is significant: the Acadia is almost five inches lower than the Dodge Durango and more than 10 inches shorter than the Chevy Traverse. This means easier parking, turning, and handling in most activities, and the result is a car that doesn't take over your life or your garage. The front grille is still there, but its edges are more rounded, a subtle touch that makes the entire car look much less menacing. And let's face it, if you're primarily looking for a family car, you probably don't need it to be all that menacing.
Is it packed full of safety tech?
The Acadia has won awards for it's best in class safety tech, but if you want to take advantage of the full suite you'll have to pony up for extra options. All models feature seven airbags, one of which is a unique center airbag which deploys if the car is hit on the side. Buyers can upgrade to the Driver Alert Package I, which includes blind spot mirrors, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. If you're going for the higher-end trims, you'll have the option to pick up Driver Alert Package II, which includes a slew of very useful safety features such as pedestrian detectors and lane assist. It's unfortunate that GMC opted not to include these safety features on all models, but they're useful enough to warrant a look at when choosing a trim.