General Motors’ aging Lambda-platform utility vehicles—which include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and the now dead Saturn Outlook—have always been practical as big, three-row crossovers. Their extra-large dimensions, though, positioned them a bit too close to full-size SUVs for the tastes of those who might prefer, say, the Toyota Highlander. Although the all-new 2017 Acadia has shrunk considerably both in size and feel, our brief first exposure reveals it to be more capable than ever, as well as much better to drive.
Sales of the second-generation Acadia start later this spring, and the first-gen model will continue to be sold alongside it for a while as the Acadia Limited. Compared with the older model, the 2017 version has a shorter wheelbase (by 6.4 inches) and overall length (7.2 inches) and is 3.5 inches narrower. Claimed curb weights are about 700 pounds lighter. Much of the weight loss comes from the smaller footprint, but the chassis it shares with the 2017 Cadillac XT5 also makes use of more high-strength steel and advanced sound-deadening materials to pare mass.
Depending on trim, you can fit five, six, or seven people in the 2017 Acadia. As standard, the base model has a third-row bench seat to accommodate seven passengers. You can replace the second-row bench with captain’s chairs, reducing capacity to six. The new All Terrain model only has two rows and seating for five.
There’s good headroom for tall adults in the third row, though their knees might be cramped if another tall adult occupies the second-row seat in front of them. Smaller adults will find the space comfortable, but others may not want to be back there for more than a quick errand. Outward visibility in the Acadia is good.
With 79 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third rows folded, the 2017 Acadia’s cargo area is significantly smaller than the 2016 Acadia’s. Small item interior storage is plentiful and includes two storage compartments beneath the flat load floor.
For a bigger cargo capacity, check out the Chevrolet Traverse, which has 116.3 cubic feet of room. The Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander also both offer a few more cubic feet than the Acadia.
The GMC Acadia’s interior features attractive styling and decent materials, though there are some hard plastics. While you shouldn’t expect luxury appointments inside, the Acadia’s cabin is class-appropriate, much improved, and should satisfy the majority of owners. Compared with its siblings, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, it occupies the middle ground between the luxurious Enclave and the more rugged Traverse.
If you want upscale interior accommodations without having to shop the luxury SUV classes, consider the Nissan Murano, which offers an elegant cabin with top-notch materials that you would expect to find in a much pricier vehicle.
The Acadia’s touch screen has large icons, and the system responds quickly to your inputs. Supplementary physical buttons for controlling audio and climate settings provide a way for you to make adjustments without looking away from the road.
The base Acadia SL starts at about $30,000. The SL comes with push-button start, automatic three-zone climate control, a 7-inch touch screen with IntelliLink, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a rearview camera. Also standard are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, so you can quickly access smartphone apps like maps, music, and contacts via the touch screen. The SL is the only trim that comes with seating for seven. It’s optional in every trim except the All Terrain.
The SLE-1 costs about $33,400 and adds LED daytime running lights, a compact spare tire, and satellite radio.
The next trim level, the SLE-2, starts at $35,375. It has six seats, and seating for five or seven is optional. With the SLE-2, you get a power liftgate, remote start, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and heated front seats.
The SLT-1 comes in at about $39,300, and this is where you begin to see standard advanced safety features like side blind zone alert with lane change assist, rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert. You also get leather upholstery, an eight-speaker premium Bose stereo, and a more powerful engine than the lower trims have.