2017 GMC Acadia Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 12, 2016
- Redesigned crossover SUV
- Shrinks in size, still carries up to 7 people
- 4-cylinder or V-6 engine
- Front-wheel or all-wheel drive
- New All Terrain trim level debuts
- New safety engineering and technologies
- Next-generation IntelliLink infotainment system
- On sale in spring of 2016
Just ask George Costanza; shrinkage is never a good thing. Nevertheless, GMC has apparently decided that the advice to “go big or go home” is ill advised. Thus, the redesigned 2017 Acadia is significantly smaller than the model it replaces in order to fill the huge gap between the compact Terrain and the full-size Yukon. It still offers 3 rows of seats, but in terms of exterior dimensions, interior size, and cargo space, the new GMC Acadia is now a true midsize crossover SUV.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Compared with the previous Acadia, the new 2017 Acadia is 7.2 inches shorter in terms of length, 3.9 inches lower in terms of height, 3.5 inches narrower in terms of width, and sits on a wheelbase that is 6.4 inches shorter. Benefits of this shrinkage include a 700-lb. weight loss and a 1.7-foot tighter turning radius. Detriments include reduced seating and cargo capacity, but we’ll discuss that in the next section.
As far as exterior design is concerned, the 2017 Acadia employs traditional GMC styling cues including a chrome-trimmed grille with big, red “GMC” lettering fronting squared and flared fenders. An Acadia hallmark is the wrap-around rear glass with darkened rear roof pillars. A set of 18-in. aluminum wheels is standard, along with LED running lights and C-shaped LED taillights.
The new Acadia is available with 5-, 6-, or 7-passenger seating configurations, and GMC promises that the new SUV will provide a greater feeling of refinement than the previous model did, noting that genuine aluminum trim is standard. New for 2017, a drawer slides out from the back of the center console to provide rear passengers with hidden storage.
A Smart Slide second-row seat design returns with a 60/40 split-folding seatback. The curbside portion of the seat slides and tilts forward for easier access to the available third-row seat, even when a child safety seat is installed in that location. Just don’t try this trick when a kid is already buckled in for the ride.
GMC has not announced the full lineup of Acadia trim levels, or how they’ll be outfitted, except to confirm a new All Terrain variant and the continuation of the luxury-themed Denali trim level.
In addition to a unique all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, the Acadia All Terrain features unique wheels, black chrome exterior trim, body-color grille surround, and covered storage bins in the cargo floor. It is available only with 5-passenger seating.
Denali models are usually loaded with extras. GMC has confirmed that the 2017 Acadia Denali will have chrome exterior trim, unique 20-in. aluminum wheels, and HID headlights.
Under the Hood
Because the new Acadia has lost so much weight, it doesn’t need as much power to get around. In turn, this allows GMC to install a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine as standard equipment, one making 194 horsepower and 190 lb.-ft. of torque. It is connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, includes a fuel-saving automatic engine start/stop system, and with front-wheel drive should get 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, according to GMC.
A new, 3.6-liter V-6 engine is also available, stronger than the one offered in the previous Acadia. It generates 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque, can tow 4,000 lbs., and is predicted by GMC to get 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Like the standard 4-cylinder engine, it is matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
A new On Demand AWD system is an option, and disconnects from the rear axle when it is not needed in order to improve gas mileage. The Acadia All Terrain is equipped with an active twin-clutch AWD system that is reported to give this version of the SUV added hill-climbing capability when traveling off-road.
Every 2017 Acadia includes Drive Mode Selector technology. In front-drive models, the different settings include Normal, Snow, Sport, and Trailer/Tow. In AWD models the settings include 2WD, 4WD, Sport, Off-Road, and Trailer/Tow. Rack-mounted electric steering with Active Return Assist and Duralife brake rotors that are designed to last twice as long are standard, while the Acadia Denali offers a new continuously variable suspension.
Designed and engineered to excel in crash testing, the new Acadia’s underlying structure makes increased use of high-strength steel and employs a splayed front frame rail design intended to better protect occupants in small offset frontal-impact collisions.
Available safety technologies include a blind-spot warning system with lane-change alert, lane-departure warning system with lane-keeping assist, and a forward-collision warning system with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking. A more robust high-speed automatic emergency braking system is available, but only for the expensive Denali version. A Safety Alert Seat vibrates in response to threats, and on the side of the SUV where the threat exists.
Perhaps the most interesting new safety upgrade for the 2017 Acadia is the standard rear-seat alert system. A new feature, it notifies the driver if an item has been accidentally left in the second- or third-row seat locations. GMC doesn’t specifically say it, but this technology could help forgetful parents or pet owners remember that they’re not on a solo outing.
In addition to the laundry list of safety improvements, the 2017 Acadia is available with automatic high-beam headlights, front and rear park-assist sensors, and a new 360-degree surround-view camera system. The reversing camera also includes new trailer-hitch-assist technology.
Next-generation IntelliLink with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection technology will be available in the new Acadia. All three rows of seats offer USB ports, and the OnStar services system will provide 4G LTE Wi-Fi access with a paid subscription.