In good times and bad, General Motors sport-utility vehicles have carried the company and satisfied a legion of loyal customers.
But GM has tinkered with the some of its cherished formulas as it rolls out the new 2017 GMC Acadia, which has lost 700 pounds become smaller all the way around so it compete head-to-head with vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
In recent years, the older version of the Acadia has served as the cornerstone for the GMC product line, meaning GM is gambling the smaller, lighter version with its fresh styling, luxury appointment and latest technology can make a space for itself in a crowed but popular corners of the market.
Out on the road, the ride and handling of the 2017 Acadia is more like that of a full-size sedan than a sport-utility vehicle. The new suspension gives the new Acadia solid stability that is complemented by the comfortable steering.
The Acadia’s steering has an electric power assist so you don’t feel like you are arm wrestling but it is also crisp and accurate and offers feedback Consequently, you had a feeling for the road on the curves, rolling hills and narrow roads of Northern Virginia where had a chance to drive but the overall ride quality was refined so you didn’t feel every hint of imperfection in the road surface. The brakes are also very good.
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The standard powertrain in the 2017 Acadia is a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, with a start-stop function, to save fuel that GM maintains will get 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
The version of the Acadia Denali that we drove, however, was equipped 3.6-liter V-6 engine that delivered 310 horsepower and 271-foot pounds of torque and is capable of pulling a 4,000 pound trailer, according to GMC.
It was also equipped with all-wheel-drive, which came in hand on wet, slick road surfaces and a six-speed automatic transmission that didn’t seem to have any trouble finding the proper gear for the varied driving conditions.
Acadia Denali comes with an advanced AWD system with Active Twin Clutch. It also has a specific All Terrain mode in place of the Off Road mode on the Acadia’s drive-style selector.
Overall, the competent powertrain in the Acadia only enhanced the driving performance of the vehicle, which was quiet and comfortable even when carrying multiple passengers.
GMC has also made sophisticated driver assistance features such front pedestrian braking, which can automatically stop the vehicle and a surround vision camera that gives the driver a complete 360-degree around their SUV when they put it in gear.
The complete package of new technology available on the Acadia includes a new distance indicator that operates if cruise control is on and the driver is following another car or truck. It also includes automatic high-beam control on the headlights, a safety alert seat, forward collision alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning as well as the ever useful blind spot alert.
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A number of the driver assistance features are standard on the top-of-the-line Acadia Denali with its manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $47,845 plus the $925 destination. Acadia prices start at $29,995.
As it revamped the Acadia for its 2017 model-year debut, GM has downsized – the wheel-base is six inches shorter and the vehicle three inches narrower than its predecessor. Consequently, the interior volume has been reduced substantially, leaving the vehicle with less space for third row passengers and larger pieces of cargo.
However, the third, which has been removed from one version of Acadia, is capable of carrying smaller passengers in a pinch and when the third row is folded flat there is plenty of room for luggage, sporting equipment or cargo.
The interior cabin is also comfortable with nice mix of material and finishes, giving it a luxurious feel and there are plenty of cubby holes for storing stuff that seems to accumulate while driving. The Acadia also comes equipped with a long list of comfort and convenience features, 120-volt power outlet, ventilated driver and passenger seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, telescoping steering column n and zoned climate control.
The entertainment and communication equipment includes a driver information screen in instrument cluster and an eight-inch color screen for entertainment and navigation as well as XM Radio and On Star as Intellilink for connectivity. Apple Car Play and Android Auto capability are also available on the Acadia, which is equipped with an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
GM’s designers have also given the GMC Acadia more refined look that highlights the vehicle’s smooth silhouette and clean lines and rounded, nicely tailored corners.
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Competition improves and breed and while the 2017 Acadia isn’t exactly a leap forward for midsized utilities, it is polished, refined and comes with the latest technology for driver assistance and connectivity. It is also capable under a variety of road conditions and loads even though it’s smaller than the old Acadia.