The GMC Acadia for 2017 is fully redesigned after nine years of production, and is now slightly smaller, standing against the top five-passenger competitors in the midsize crossover segment.
The base Acadia is a three-row, six-passenger family hauler, with an optional bench seat available for the middle row to accommodate seven passengers.
Acadia is 7.2-inches shorter in overall length, 3.5-inches narrower and 6.6-inches shorter in height than before, resulting in slight reductions in cargo and passenger space.
The 700-pound reduction in weight along with a new four-cylinder engine help boost fuel economy, and the smaller size also makes Acadia easier to maneuver, especially around turns and corners. The 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine is now available as an option, with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine the standard for better mileage.
Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive. Acadia with all-wheel drive is a solid all-weather vehicle, although limited ground clearance might thwart ventures into really rough off-road conditions.
Active fuel management on the V-6 allows the engine to turn off half the cylinders when not needed, to help improve fuel economy.
Improvements include an expanded range of available active safety features, including front pedestrian braking, forward automatic braking, low speed forward automatic braking, following distance indicator, IntelliBeam automatic headlamp high-beam control, rear seat reminder, and surround vision camera.
Enhanced connectivity includes phone integration technology via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto through the GMC IntelliLink system.
Exclusive continuously variable ride control ($1,200) uses sensors to monitor driving conditions and adjust the suspension for a sporty feel. Traction Select also helps to adjust vehicle performance in various road conditions; four-wheel drive for slippery surfaces, sport mode, off-road, and trailering. Front-wheel drive is also included on the traction select dial.
Exterior color choices, wheel selections, interior color choices, and packages depend on which trim is selected. Six trims are offered, priced from just under $30,000 for a very basic SL to just under $48,000 for a very well-equipped, uniquely styled Denali.
For this review, I drove a striking crimson red AWD Denali with luxurious cocoa/shale leather interior and standard 20-inch, six-spoke polished-aluminum wheels with gray painted pockets. crimson red adds $495, white frost adds $995; black cherry metallic, sky blue metallic and three others add $395. Jet interior is also available. Two different wheel packages are available, adding $1,795 each.
The signature chrome Denali grille is a softened octagon with three separate horizontal sections featuring beaded mesh.
Chrome features heavily on the Denali -- across the lower front fascia and around the fog lights, on the lower edge of the textured black front bumper, around the wrap-around HID headlights (with LED daytime running lights and GMC stamped on the silver housing), on the body side just below the door edge (with DENALI embossed), on the side-window surrounds and the edge of the door handles, across the middle of the liftgate (red GMC badging), across the entire lower rear bumper, an Acadia badge on the left lower liftgate, and on the roof rails.
HID headlights produce a brighter, whiter light for better visibility at greater distances, and improve illumination of road signs and markers. The IntelliBeam feature automatically turns on the high beams and switches back to low beams when another vehicle is detected.
My Acadia had a two-panel skyscape sunroof ($1,400) with express-open to open fully with one touch of a button. Both panels had an adjustable power sunshade for just the right amount of light.
A trailering package was standard, with a seven-pin wiring harness, class III hitch, and heavy-duty cooling system, with a towing capacity of 4,000 pounds. The tow vision trailering system uses the rearview camera to help attach a trailer up to the hitch with a guideline on the screen.
Seating, lower door panels, pillars, headliner, lower dash and center console were shale with cocoa upper door/window sills, upper dash, shifter boot, and steering wheel. Pewter-colored plastic trimmed the air vents, a wood-look strip on the dash, the upper center stack – around the touchscreen, two air vents, and controls for the touchscreen – and the heated steering wheel (with Denali logo).
In addition to the strip on the upper right dash, light wood-look plastic with dark graining trimmed the center console, and all door armrests. The color combination was elegant, luxurious, and very inviting.
Front and second-row seats were comfortable, with adult-sized legroom for the middle row. The third row, however, was best suited for children or small adults, with the seat cushion nearer the floor.
New smart slide second row seats slid and tipped to allow access to the third row. Second-row seatbacks folded flat in a 60/40 configuration from the side of the seat or using levers in the cargo area, while the third row folded 50/50 using a strap on the back of the seat, for lots of flexibility in passenger and cargo hauling. First- and second-row outboard seats were heated, and the front seats were ventilated.
Two remote keyless transmitters (fobs) can be programmed with driver’s seat and mirror memory for two drivers to position the seat and mirrors when the door is unlocked using the fob. The fobs can also be used to start the vehicle remotely, which activates the automatic climate control setting, rear defogger, and heated/ventilated seats (if equipped).
Parents can program one fob for teen drivers and use a standard teen driver package to monitor and reinforce safe driving habits such as seatbelt use, speed, distracted driving using an industry-first report card. All safety systems are activated and cannot be de-activated by the teen driver. A backseat reminder is standard, to help remind drivers to check for babies or young children in the rear.
Controls for major functions are simple, with old-school buttons and knobs in addition to intuitive menus and controls on the touchscreen. Navigation functions were simple and quick, a kind of litmus test for the entire infotainment system. The low dash and multi-adjustable seat made Acadia feel more carlike from behind the wheel.
The system uses Intellilink with Bluetooth streaming for music and most phones with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice activated technology for radio and phones, SiriusXM (over 150 channels for music, sports, talk, entertainment, and news), USB ports and auxiliary jack. Bose supplied the audio with eight speakers and amplifier for rich, true sound reproduction
With all seats up, cargo space is 12.8 cubic feet, with small-item storage under the lift-up cargo floor. With the third row down, cargo is 41.7 cubic, and with all seats down, cargo opens up to 79 cubic feet. A height-adjustable hands-free power liftgate made loading easy and kept the liftgate from striking overhead objects in a small garage.
Personal storage was limited in the cockpit with small door pockets, a small square deep console cubby, a small bin under the center stack, and another very small tray in front of the console cubby.
Second-row passengers had a pull-out cubby under the center console, small door pockets, two cupholders on the center armrest, and two small cubbies on the door armrest, while third-row passengers had a cupholder and cubby on one side with only a cupholder on the other.
Second-row passengers had climate controls and seat heater controls, as well as a 120-volt outlet and two USB charging ports. The third row/cargo area had one charging USB port and buttons to tilt and slide the second row.
The cabin was exceptionally quiet and the ride was smooth even on rough pavement. Tri-zone climate controls for driver, front passenger and rear passengers used sensors to monitor the temperature throughout the cabin, including solar hear from the windows, and adjusted all three zones accordingly. A humidity and windshield-temperature sensor automatically dispersed air to remove moisture when fog was detected.
A driver alert package (standard) encompassed a load of safety systems and features including the automatic high beams, front and rear parking assist, following distance indicator, forward collision alert, low speed forward automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, lane keep assist, and front pedestrian detection.
A technology package ($1,395) supplemented with adaptive cruise control with full speed front automatic braking, automatic collision preparation, and surround vision system.
In addition to frontal and side impact, and head curtain side impact air bags for all rows, my tester had a driver inboard seat-mounted air bag to help keep the driver from impacting the passenger in certain side collisions.
My tester also had the continuously variable ride control package. standard OnStar basic plan plus 3 includes automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle assistance, roadside assistance, 4G LTE internet, and more.
My Acadia had plenty of power, taking off from a stop quickly. Rated for 18 mpg city/ 25 highway/20 combined, my Acadia managed 22 mpg with mostly neighborhood and short highway trips.
With options totaling $4,490 and destination charge of $925, my comfortable, versatile, very attractive Acadia Denali delivered for $52,485.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.