2018 GMC Acadia

By February 5, 2018

Redesigned as a 2017 model, the GMC Acadia is a midsize crossover SUV available in five-, six-, or seven-passenger configurations. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional.

This second-generation Acadia replaced a much larger crossover with the same name. The current model is roughly six inches shorter and three inches narrower than the 2007-2016 Acadia. The current Acadia is 700 pounds lighter than the first-generation model and it gets much better fuel economy. It also costs less.

Only minor changes have been made for 2018: Seating configurations have been expanded for the All Terrain package. The top Denali edition gains a heated steering wheel. An audible tire fill alert is standard on 2018 Acadia models.

GMC offers seven trim levels: SL, SLE, SLT, and top-end Denali. SLE and SLT versions are split into two versions each: -1 and -2, with different content and pricing. An All Terrain package is available for SLE and SLT models. Denali is distinguished by its flashy grille and other trim.

The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. Available on all but the base SL and step-up SLE is a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet.

Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional on all except SL trim.

The four-cylinder engine feels strained with a full load of passengers and gear, but the V6 is strong and quiet.

All-wheel drive aims more at snow-covered roads than off-pavement four-wheeling, even when using the off-road mode that’s part of the All-Terrain option.

Eight airbags and a rearview camera are standard. Advanced safety technology is available, if costly, but only for upper models. Such features as automatic emergency braking and active lane control are standard only on SLT-2 and Denali editions. Lane-change alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are available for SLE-2 and standard on SLT-1 models.

A standard rear-seat detection system alerts you, before driving off, if you’ve opened the rear door. It’s meant to remind drivers that a child or pet might be in the back seat.

Acadia scored well in crash-testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Acadia five stars overall, and for frontal and side impacts. Only for rollover protection did Acadia get a four-star rating, which is typical of taller vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Acadia Good in each category tested, other than headlights, which were declared Poor. Only the Denali’s high-intensity-discharge headers were deemed Marginal. With an appropriate option group, the Acadia ranked Superior for frontal crash prevention.

Model Lineup

Acadia SL ($29,000) has the four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes seven-passenger seating, 17-inch alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, six-speaker audio, a rearview camera. The 7.0-inch infotainment system works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)

Acadia SLE-1 ($32,560) is available with all-wheel drive ($34,560) and adds satellite radio, LED daytime running lights, carpeted floor mats, and a compact spare tire. SLE-2 ($35,180) adds an eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, programmable power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, foglamps, and six-passenger seating. The All Terrain package combines appearance upgrades, including a body-color grille surround, with an off-road mode for the all-wheel-drive system. The All Terrain deletes the third row of seats.

Acadia SLT-1 ($38,460) upgrades to perforated leather upholstery, power front seats, Bose audio, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Acadia SLT-2 ($41,860) comes with the V6 and is available with all-wheel drive ($43,860) and includes heated rear seats, front/rear parking sensors, and 20-inch wheels. A safety group combines low-speed automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, automatic headlights, lane-keep assist, and lane-change alert. Warnings are both audible and felt through the driver’s seat.

Acadia Denali V6 ($45,020), available with all-wheel drive ($47,020) has unique appearance details, a hands-free power liftgate, bright roof rails, 8-inch information screen with navigation, and 20-inch wheels.

Exterior

Simplicity lends the Acadia its attractive appearance, with a design that doesn’t rely on curves to draw attention. Clean body lines and a masculine tone set the stage. Prior-generation Acadia owners should note that the current model is considerably smaller.

Despite the Acadia’s car-based platform, squared-off wheel openings convey a somewhat truck-like look. Large taillights on most versions are separated by a sizable chrome element.

Adding the All Terrain package cuts back on chrome, focusing on distinctive wheels and dark trim. Denali builds up the brightwork.

Interior

Largely comfortable, the Acadia cabin is clean-looking and sufficiently pleasant, if a bit bland. Though quality is evident and soft-touch materials abound, the symmetrical layout seems a bit past its prime.

Standard seating for seven includes a three-place bench in row two, plus two in the third row. Most trim levels can get optional twin captain’s chairs, reducing seating to six.

Surprisingly narrow, the Acadia cabin can feel a little cramped when filled with passengers. Front occupants can expect good views, while residing on comfortable seats. Row two is easy to access. Outboard seats are roomy, but the center position falls short on comfort. Youngsters are the best prospects for riding in the third row, which may be folded flat.

With the third row upright, cargo volume totals a modest 12.8 cubic feet. Peak capacity is 79 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The Acadia drives well and feels pleasantly polished, with a comfortable, composed ride and responsive handling.

Steering is nicely weighted. V6 models feel a trifle nose-heavy, but handling doesn’t suffer.

The four-wheel independent suspension readily absorbs patchy pavement. The 20-inch wheels optional on SLT (standard on Denali) can yield a stiffer ride.

Performance is modest with the four-cylinder engine. The strong V6 is an appealing choice, mating well with GMC’s 6-speed automatic.

All Terrain models look rugged, but ride comfort matches the regular Acadia. Off-pavement, it benefits from slightly revised traction-control mode.

An Acadia isn’t the most fuel-efficient crossover in its class. Four-cylinder models with front-drive are thriftiest, EPA-rated at 21/26 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. Adding all-wheel drive lowers the estimate just slightly, to 21/25/23 mpg.

The V6 guzzles a bit more, EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive is rated at 17/25/20 mpg. Neither engine requires premium gasoline. Four-cylinder Acadias include a Stop/Start system.

Final Word

Riding and handling nicely, with a comfortable cabin, the Acadia is a sensible family crossover. Strong performance emanates from the available V6, but the four-cylinder trails in terms of energy. Demerits include a narrow cabin, tight third row (if installed), and limited safety technology for lower trim levels. Numerous options mean GMC has an Acadia to meet nearly any requirements.

Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.