'Twas a time when GMC vehicles were rebadged Chevrolets. That's no longer true.
The redesigned Acadia, GMC's midsize, three-row crossover, is a case in point. While the new vehicle's commonality with the Chevy Traverse, and their corporate cousin, the Buick Enclave, remains significant, the Acadia has been well individuated from its relatives. And that differentiation is not just cosmetic.
By employing the Cadillac XT5's platform, the new Acadia is markedly smaller and lighter than the Traverse and Enclave. While the longer Chevy and Buick wheelbase measure 204 inches in length, the Acadia is only 193.6. In all, this second-generation Acadia is 7.2 inches shorter, 3.5 inches narrower, and 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
Getting 700 pounds off the case — reducing the curb weight to about 4,000 pounds — pays obvious fuel economy and performance dividends. The reduction allows the use of the corporate 2.5-liter, 197-horsepower four in the lower-echelon models. That engine returns EPA mileage ratings of 21 city and 26 highway, decent enough numbers in a midsize crossover. (The 310-horsepower V-6 in the more upmarket I tested had EPAs of 18 and 25, which is 2 mpg better in both categories than engine delivered in the previous Acadia.)
The diminished size and weight also did the Acadia's driving dynamics some favors. The car feels smaller than it did and more composed in the corners. The weight loss also translates into better braking and acceleration. Indeed, the 3.6-liter V-6 found in the tester gets from 0 to 60 in less than 7 seconds, which isn't shabby.
The reduction in size, of course, shrank the Acadia's interior as well as its thirst. Cargo volume behind the front seat drops from 116 to 79 cubic feet, but smart design preserves a decent amount of storage. The second- and third-row seats easily fold flat, and there are two storage bins under the floor.
More important, there is adequate leg room for fairly tall people in both the second and third rows when the sliding second-row seats are properly adjusted.
With a starting tag of $29,995, the Acadia strikes me as good value. Even if you opt for the heavily equipped SLT-2 I drove, which, with starting price of at $41,900, is slotted only slightly under the top-of-the-line Denali model, you are still getting a good bounce to the buck.
(The tester marked the first time in memory I've driven a front-drive crossover this big. I suppose two-wheel drive is fine if you live in Miami. But for a more snow-prone town, like Philadelphia, for example, I think all-wheel drive would be worth the extra $2,000.)
In addition to its driving dynamics, which are laudable for a crossover this size, the Acadia turns out be a quiet, comfortable, and civil companion that affords good visibility and access to its controls and instrumentation. It is also good-looking inside and out. The body design is ruggedly stylish. The interior is attractive in a clean, unpretentious way. Soft-touch surfaces predominated in the tester and its leather-trimmed seats were quite handsome. I liked the way the striated, gray-brown door and dash accents evoked wood without trying to imitate it.
There is no paucity of standard niceties in the SLT-2 tester. The mirrors and first- and second-row seats were heated, and there was a trailering package enabling it to tow up to 4,000 pounds. A bevy of electronic safety devices included a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, low-speed automatic braking, and front pedestrian braking.