A very sexy makeover for the well-liked GMC Acadia?
This three-row crossover has been winning friends for years with its Yukon-like cabin room, but easier parking manners and comfier ride quality.
The 2017 model builds on these strengths… but does it drop some capability along the way?
Surely, something MUST have fallen by the wayside for the 2017 Acadia to be a massive 700 pounds lighter than the current model. No swap to aluminum a la the Range Rover or new Q7. High-strength steel can only do so much, right?
It turns out what has really been lopped off the Acadia is much of its size: this new vehicle has a half-foot less wheelbase and overall width than the current model. It is also much lower than ever before, and shorter overall.
GMC hopes to make the new Acadia great at everything it did before, like seating for up to eight people, towing up to 4000-pounds and generally being a full-size SUV — without any of the hassles.
The design upgrade is clear to see from outside or in: this new model is seriously cool in its Denali trimline or the never-before-available All Terrain package with extra off-road ability. That All Terrain Acadia is exclusively a five-seater for 2017, with cargo bins in the back where the third row of seats usually lives. Standard twin-clutch AWD and new front suspension join forces with new off-road and towing drive modes.
Where the All Terrain really pushes our buttons is with its blacked-out style! Body-color and black chrome dominate the nose for the Acadia All Terrain — giving the new truck a menacing feel not unlike the lean/mean Durango R/T.
THe Acadia will be nowhere near as quick as the top Durango HEMI V8, though: standard power is now from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making around 185-horsepower. A 22-mpg city and 28-mpg highway are the goals for this base engine — rather than speed, obviously. The top motor is the trusty 3.6-liter V6 making 310 horsepower — an improvement of about 30 ponies versus the current truck. With a tighter turning radius — but same 6-speed auto — the new Acadia will be much speedier and nimbler in V6 form than the current truck.
That being said, overall towing maximums are down by about 1200-pounds for the new model.
We’re somewhat confused by the radical repositioning of the Acadia for 2017. So much so, we almost expect an Acadia XL to join the range with a LWB about a year after the new model reaches showrooms in ~May of 2016. No word from GMC on the new space tallies for the second or third rows: but expect some big cuts despite the improved comfort back there. 79-cubic-feet is cargo room is promised with all seats folded in the 2017 GMC Acadia, down from 110-cubic-feet-plus in the current vehicles. That’s pretty drastic.
Perhaps the Acadia’s siblings in the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave will differentiate themselves with longer wheelbases? Remains TBA.
To be sure, the new Acadia looks massively improved for the next model year. We hope its new size does not scare away its many fans, however. Even the coolest look and most modern tech will be an issue for buyers seeking people/cargo room above all else.
For the rest of us, though, the new Acadia looks right-sized to take on the BMW X5 in capability, but at Toyota Highlander prices.
2017 GMC ACADIA Denali
GMC Introduces All-New 2017 Acadia
- 700-lb. lighter, more efficient crossover aimed at heart of midsize segment
- Expanded range of available active safety features, including Front Pedestrian Braking and Surround Vision Camera
- New powertrains include a 2.5L I-4, offering a GM-est. 28 mpg hwy, and an available est. 310-hp 3.6L V-6
- Acadia Denali with new, exclusive Continuously Variable Ride Control
- New Acadia All Terrain with an advanced AWD system with Active Twin Clutch
- On sale this spring
DETROIT – GMC today introduced the all-new 2017 Acadia – a reimagined crossover aimed at the heart of the midsize segment, designed to offer great versatility and refinement, with more advanced safety technologies
The new Acadia offers more-efficient powertrains, while continuing to offer three rows of seating on most models. The premium Acadia Denali returns, along with a new All Terrain model offering enhanced off-road capability.
“GMC is a strong, growing premium brand and the Acadia is a cornerstone of our success story,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC Sales and Marketing. “The all-new Acadia leverages GMC’s proven SUV experience to take on and shake up one of the largest vehicle segments, with a strong blend of design, technology and capability.”
The new Acadia goes on sale this spring, almost a decade after its original introduction, and coming off of its strongest sales year ever in 2015 with 96,393 deliveries.
“Typically, a vehicle’s sales can be illustrated on a bell curve during its lifecycle, but the Acadia’s success has defied convention with impressive sustainability,” said Aldred. “It’s a shining example of GMC’s momentum and we’re confident it will grow with the new Acadia.”
2017 GMC ACADIA All Terrain
New size, bigger advantages
The strategic re-scoping of the 2017 Acadia offers customers a midsize crossover positioned between the compact Terrain and full-size Yukon. Depending on the model, it is available with five-, six- or seven-passenger seating, while offering greater maneuverability than the first-generation model.
“The new Acadia captures a greater feeling of refinement, in everything from the responsive feeling behind the wheel to the way passengers interact with its intuitive features,” said Rick Spina, executive chief engineer for compact and crossover SUVs at General Motors. “It’s a vehicle that offers the functionality Acadia is known for, while delivering big advantages and balance to customers’ everyday lives.”
The new Acadia is 700 pounds lighter than the current model, which pays dividends at the gas pump. A new, 2.5L engine is standard, offering an estimated 28 mpg on the highway for FWD models (EPA estimate not yet available; estimate is based on GM testing). City fuel economy offered is GM-estimated at 22 mpg (FWD) and is bolstered by GMC’s first application of Stop/Start technology, which enhances efficiency in stop-and-go driving.
A new, available 3.6L V-6 engine is more powerful and efficient than the current model, while offering 4,000 pounds estimated trailering capability (with the available towing package). It is GM-estimated at 310 horsepower (231 kW) and 25 mpg highway (FWD models – EPA estimate not available).
Both of the Acadia’s new engines feature direct injection and variable valve timing, and both are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions and an electronically controlled drive mode selector.
Legacy of functionality and spaciousness
The 2017 Acadia builds on a legacy of intuitive functionality, with new features such as a split-folding second-row seat that improves on the original Smart Slide feature of the current model. It offers greater flexibility, including the capability of the curbside seat sliding and tilting forward, even with a forward-facing child seat in place, while the driver-side section tips and slides forward for easier access to the third row.
The 50/50-split third-row seat folds flat for a completely flat load floor behind the second row and when the second row is also folded, there’s 79 cubic feet (2,237 liters) of cargo room. Levers at the rear of the vehicle make it easier to fold the second- and third-row seats.
Additional solutions range from simple to technologically advanced. The rear of the center console, for example, features a unique pull-out storage drawer. It is accessible to rear-seat passengers and allows items such as electronic devices and small toys to be stored out of sight, for greater security and reduced clutter.
There’s also a new, standard rear seat alert that can remind the driver when an item may have been left in the second- and third-row seats. Additionally, all three rows offer USB charge ports for compatible electronic devices.
The new Acadia offers a greater emphasis on refinement, while remaining instantly recognizable with an evolution of the vehicle’s signature, professional grade design cues such as a chrome-trimmed grille, squared off and flared wheel arches and wraparound rear side windows with dark D-pillars.
“It’s a confident design influenced by extensive customer input,” said Helen Emsley, executive director, Global GMC Design and User Experience. “The original Acadia was very truck-inspired, but the new model has a decidedly SUV influence conveyed in sculptural details, softened corners and a sleeker windshield angle.”
New dimensional grilles and wraparound headlamps – HID lamps on Denali and halogen projectors on other models – reinforce the confident, refined appearance, while standard LED signature lighting on all models reflect GMC’s premium attributes. Complementing C-shape rear lighting graphics add a cohesive detail to the design.
Premium cues distinguish the Acadia Denali. Like all Denali models, it features a dimensional chrome grille, along with integrated chrome side trim, chrome-accented door handles, a chrome lower-rear fascia and specific six-spoke wheels.
Inside, all Acadia trim levels feature unique interior color and trim combinations and incorporate authentic aluminum trim.
Latest safety and connectivity technologies
As a contemporary crossover designed for families on the go, the 2017 Acadia offers the latest active safety features to protect them, as well as the latest technologies to keep them connected.
The active safety features are designed to help make drivers more aware of their surroundings and potential crash situations. They are available depending on the model and include:
- New Front Pedestrian Braking
- New Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking (standard on SLT-2 and Denali)
- New Forward Automatic Braking (available on Denali)
- New Following Distance Indicator
- New IntelliBeam automatic headlamp high-beam control
- New Surround Vision camera system
- New Safety Alert Seat
- Forward Collision Alert
- Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
- Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert
- Front and Rear Parking Assist.
An available Tow Vision Trailering system helps make hitching easier by employing a rear-vision camera, with dynamic guidelines, to help line up the Acadia’s hitch with the trailer, as well as offering views of the trailer while driving.
And when it comes to connectivity, the Acadia is plugged in with available phone integration technology through GMC’s available IntelliLink system. It offers support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it easy to connect to some of the features smartphone users rely on most. (Vehicle user interfaces are products of Apple and Google and require a compatible smartphone and adherence to data plan rates, terms and privacy statements.)
Additionally, an available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected. The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on and comes with a three-month/three-gigabyte data trial.
New foundation and driving dynamics
Built on a new, lighter body structure, the 2017 Acadia’s driving dynamics are more responsive, while its shorter length and narrower width enable greater maneuverability, for easier turning in parking decks and easier parking in home garages.
|Wheelbase (in / mm)||Length |
(in / mm)
(in / mm)
(in / mm)
|Turning radius |
(ft / M)
(lb / kg)
|2017 Acadia||112.5 / 2857||193.6 / 4917||75.4 / 1916||68.7 / 1745 (w/o mast, w/ roof rack)||38.7 / 11.8||3956 / 1794 (est. – FWD)|
|2016 Acadia||118.9 / 3021||200.8 / 5101||78.9 / 2003||72.6 / 1844 (w/o mast, w/ roof rack)||40.4 / 12.3||4656 / 2112 (FWD)|
The body structure incorporates press-hardened, high-strength steels, which allowed thinner components in some areas offering comparable or better crash performance than conventional materials. They also help reduce the base curb weight by 700 pounds (318 kg), compared to the current model.
New splayed front frame rails also contribute to crashworthiness. They flare outward to provide effective folding and crushing performance during small overlap frontal crash situations.
The new Acadia retains a front-drive layout with available all-wheel drive. All models feature a new drive mode selector, which allows the driver to alter chassis and powertrain attributes to suit a variety of driving conditions. Front-drive models offer Normal (2×4), Snow, Sport and Trailer/Tow modes, while AWD models offer 2×4 (AWD disconnect), 4×4, Sport, Off Road and Trailer/Tow modes.
The AWD disconnect mode effectively disconnects the rear axle from the drive system to save fuel. On-demand AWD capability can be reapplied on the go by switching the drive mode selector to 4×4 mode.
Additional chassis and driving dynamics features include:
- MacPherson strut front suspension
- Five-link rear suspension
- Rack-mounted electric power steering system
- Four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife rotors
- Electronic park brake
- Available electronically controlled continuous damping system.
The new All Terrain model matches distinctive design elements with enhanced off-road-driving ability.
At the heart of the Acadia All Terrain’s capability is an advanced AWD system with Active Twin Clutch, which optimizes traction for every condition it encounters. And while it is engineered for optimal performance in wet, snowy and icy conditions, it also provides enhanced stability in dry conditions.
It also has a specific All Terrain mode in place of the Off Road mode on the drive mode selector, which works with the model’s exclusive AWD system to offer enhanced hill-climb capability.
All Terrain models are distinguished from the rest of the Acadia lineup with a body-color grille surround, black chrome trim and unique wheels. Inside is exclusive five-passenger seating, dynamic All Terrain interior accents and covered storage bins in the rear cargo floor in place of a third-row seat.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.