I’ve never been a huge fan of SUVs, wagons are more my speed, but the more of them I drive the more I understand why people like them. So when our 2017 GMC Acadia V-6 AWD arrived I had high hopes for this car. It’s somewhat slimmer than the previous model and from most angles it’s a very good looking vehicle. Our tester was the was the top-trim Denali, with a very polished and well thought out interior.
The Denali trim comes with polished aluminum 20-inch wheels, bright roof rails, and in my mind a slightly flashy grille but I could certainly live with that. The 2017 GMC Acadia shares a platform with the Cadillac XT5 a car I liked a lot. This new architecture shortens the Acadia by 7.2 inches in length and a crash diet has lopped off 700 lbs. There is a 3rd row, but it is pretty cramped and doesn’t leave much cargo space so we dropped the seats and created a vast space for dogs and stuff.
GM uses its now familiar 3.6-liter V-6 which provides 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque, ample now that the Acadia has lost so much weight. There is a 194-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder base engine but the V6 is the only way to go.The V6 is mated to a 6 speed, not the 8 in the XT5, but it dies a decent job of moving things along smoothly. There are several drive mode options you can fiddle with including 2WD, 4WD, Sport, Off Road and Towing. We didn’t have a chance to try any real off road driving due to time constraints but we tried all the other modes. Setting off in 2WD with the right pedal floored induces wheel spin so we kept it in AWD all week. With AWD engaged the Acadia launched from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, not bad at all and quicker than most rivals except the Ford Explorer Ecoboost.
On The Road
The Acadia can be hustled along in a pretty car like way, in fact, it’s not truck like at all. It steers well, stops when asked, even from high speeds and it purveys an overall sense of satisfaction without trying too hard. Flick the console mounted drive mode selector to Sport and it corners quite flat and delivers surprisingly solid and secure performance on twisty roads, while remaining whisper quiet on the inside. It’s all very pleasing. Even if you dive too fast into a corner, yes the front end pushes a bit but then it regains its composure and powers through. GM has engineered some fun into it. I have to say that credit must go to the continuously variable damping system the Acadia Denali was equipped with. Make sure you check that box. Its electronic-assisted steering feels well sorted and precise but lacks real feel, which is the norm these days. The ride, however, is terrific, isolating passengers from San Diego’s pothole strewn roads. Throttle and brake inputs are super smooth, making progress sublime. It’s not going to function like a Jeep Grand Cherokee off road, seeing that the Acadia has a 7.2 inches of ground clearance, but pick a trail with few rocks and you can certainly get somewhat lost in the wilderness.
I was particularly impressed withe front seats, superbly comfortable but not too big, but with plenty of side bolster support. Never did I feel that bum ache you typically get on longer trips in one of the German models. Fronts come standard with heat cool, the latter hitting the right spots in the small of you. Seats are also tastefully wrapped in soft and smooth leather. Other goodies include a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel (not so essential in California) with a great feel to it. I really liked the light grain wood accents on the dash, console and doors, it gives the inside a more luxury ambiance. Faults there are few, mainly some scratchy plastics lower down and an annoying vibration from the sunroof.
The Denali also gets navigation and Apple/Android smartphone mirroring with the standard 8-speaker Bose sound system and unique configurable digital gauge cluster. The revised infotainment system, now supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Technology abounds including including front pedestrian braking, a which activated a couple of times for us when it detected someone rummaging around in the trunk of a parked car. Also available is a Surround Vision camera system, which gives you an uncanny birds eye view of the car.
What Do We Think?
If you’re thinking of buying American, this is the midsize SUV you need……….if you’re not then this is the midsize SUV you need.
2017 GMC Acadia V-6 AWD Numbers
|VEHICLE:||Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door hatchback|
|PRICE AS TESTED:||$52,485|
|ENGINE:||3.6 Liter DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads|
|POWER:||310 hp @ 6600 rpm|
|TORQUE:||271 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode|
|CARGO VOLUME:||12.8 ft³, 79 ft³ with seat area|
|CURB WEIGHT:||4,155 lb|
|ZERO to 60 mph:||6.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED:||131 mph|
|EPA combined/city/highway driving:||21/18/25 mpg|
|OUR OBSERVED:||17 mpg|
|PROS:||Smooth ride, excellent front seats, easy to use touchscreen|
|CONS:||Some interior vibration, thirsty if pushed|