2017 GMC Acadia AWD All-Terrain Review

The competition should watch its back

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Positives: Comfortable seats, on point ergonomics, attractive exterior styling, good handling, braking and acceleration and doesn't feel or look like a hulking SUV.
Negatives: Probably not as much of an off-road vehicle as All-Terrain package suggests, opting for seven seats means you get very little cargo space and rear visibility difficult due to thick D-pillars.
Bottom Line: There was very little we didn't like about the GMC Acadia. It good to drive, has plenty of room in its 5-passenger configuration, is attractive and offers some serious comfort and amenities. As much as we like this vehicle, we almost can't recommend it to someone who will regularly need to cart around more than 5 passengers. Seven seats in this vehicle are only okay in a pinch and those rear seats only okay for the kiddos.
 View Our 2017 GMC Acadia Overview
GMC reinvented the Acadia by going with a new platform and shedding 740 lbs in the process. That accompanied by the powerful engine, attractive exterior, and comfortable interior make the Acadia a formidable force in an extremely competitive segment.

We got to spend a week with the Acadia and came to realize that this vehicle poses some serious competition to basically any five-passenger vehicle on the road and can even be an alternative to some seven-passenger vehicles if you don't plan on using the third-row seats much. Our loaner came with five comfy, tan leather seats, plenty of cargo space and a powerful 3.6-liter V6. We drove it all over Chicagoland. Here's the impression GMC's latest Acadia made on us.

Driving Experience



The Acadia has a very car-like feel, but its relatively high ride height allows you to see down the road easily. This is true for many other CUVs and small SUVs as well, so that didn't really set the Acadia apart. What did set it apart was how nimble it feels, likely due to the massive weight drop and overall smaller size of the vehicle. The steering and handling inspire confidence in a wide variety of situations. It feels refined and upscale but doesn't quite match the smoothness of the German Luxury brand's offerings. In other words, it's really good to drive but not spectacular.

Ride Quality: The Acadia is smooth and composed. It walks the line between a plush, pillowy ride and a firm, sportier ride.

Acceleration: The 3.6-liter V6 can move the car along quickly from a stop or on the highway to overtake slow-moving cars. The fellas over at Car and Driver recorded a 0-60 time of under seven seconds, which sounds about right from our time behind the wheel.

Braking: Brakes are smooth and progressive with good pedal feel.

Steering: The electronically-assisted steering provides decent road feel and is well-calibrated. It feels very comfortable and natural at low and high speeds.

Handling: The straight-line ride quality might make you think the Acadia would roll and dip in the turns, but it corners flat and is nimble without feeling skittish. We were surprised at how responsive it is when pushed.




The Acadia comes well-equipped with technology. Most functions are available through the 8-inch touchscreen display on the dash, though there are buttons and knobs to operate some of the features. Our version came with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, XM Radio 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability and much more.

Infotainment System: The infotainment system is smooth and fast, and the 8-inch touchscreen display is well-placed on the dash.

Controls: The Acadia features a nice mix of buttons, knobs and touchscreen controls. We found the layout of the controls to be simple, intuitive and easy to use, though not the best in the business.

Bluetooth Pairing: Pairing a phone was simple and reconnecting upon re-entry was seamless.

Voice Call Quality: Calls were loud and clear on both ends and we experienced no issues.




The Acadia loses its boxy, large shape in favor of a comparatively lithe and elegant exterior. The vehicle is less truck-like in appearance and has a look that's more common for a crossover. That being said, it's distinct without being overstyled like the Nissan Murano, and the Acadia will definitely stand out from most other CUVs out there.

Front: The front features a smaller grille than the previous model and smaller modern LED headlights. The All-Terrain package comes with a lot of blacked-out accents and little to no chrome, which we prefer to the other versions of the Acadia that rely heavily on shiny surfaces.

Rear: The rear of the vehicle hides the thick D-pillars beneath wrap-around glass giving you the perception from the outside of the vehicle that you’d be able to see well out the back from the inside. This is a well-crafted lie, though, because rear visibility in this vehicle is poor.

Profile: In profile, the Acadia has smooth lines without any heavy creases down the side.

Cabin: The cabin is attractively laid out and looks wonderful. It features high-quality materials like real brushed aluminum and in an almost utilitarian layout that makes for a smart and agreeable appearance. There isn't a lot of extra layers on the dash and all the controls are grouped in easy-to-understand clusters.




The cabin of the Acadia is a nice place to be. There's a lot of soft-touch material, and GM paid attention here. The model we drove came with attractive light brown leather seats, and there's real brushed aluminum trim on the steering wheel and dash. Ergonomically, the vehicle feels well laid out. Everything is within reach and right where you'd expect it to be. The quality of materials in the cabin and ergonomics alone make this vehicle worth considering.

Front Seats: The heated, leather-wrapped seats come with plenty of adjustment for driver and passenger and have enough padding and bolstering to be comfortable on long drives.

Rear Seats: The rear seats feature the same high-quality leather and supportive cushioning. Head room and leg room are also adequate.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin of the Acadia is quiet, but we did notice some slight but audible creaking from the front suspension over bumps at low speeds. This stood out because the rest of the vehicle is so quiet.

Visibility: Front and side visibility is wonderful. However, seeing out the rear of the vehicle can be tough. The D-pillars are fat and the rear window is small. The cameras and sensors are a must for this vehicle.

Climate: The heater and AC system heats or cools the cabin quickly and easily.




Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have rated the 2017 GMC Acadia yet. While the vehicle has not yet been rated, it comes with a significant amount of safety equipment standard and a couple optional equipment features. This, along with the more modern platform should make for a safe vehicle.

IIHS Rating: The IIHS has not yet rated this vehicle.

Standard Tech: Several airbags in front, side and rear, 4-wheel ABS, teen driver settings, driver alert package with rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert and lane change alert with blind zone warning.

Optional Tech: Advanced all-wheel drive system and hill descent control




Because the new Acadia is a smaller vehicle overall than the previous year's model, the cargo space is less and storage not as robust. Still, clever interior packaging and easy-folding rear seats make for a vehicle that still has plenty of usable cargo space. Our five-passenger model came with ample room behind the second row and had plenty of storage compartments for everyday carry items.

Storage Space: Storage space was on par with many of the Acadia's competitors, with a decent size space beneath the armrest, a few cubbies and cup holders between the front seats, a generous glove box and nice sized door pockets

Cargo Room: Our version didn't have a third row and that meant a large cargo area in the rear. The second row also folds down flat revealing even more available cargo space.

Fuel Economy



The EPA has the Acadia with the 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. These numbers are due to the Active Fuel Management capability of the modern V6. This allows the engine to shut off a few cylinders under light-load conditions to improve fuel economy. Still, many competitors out there, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Ford Explorer, get better mileage numbers.

Observed: On average, we saw 20 mpg.

Driving Factors: We drove a mixture of city streets and highways at a variety of speeds. At times we pushed the vehicle harder than normal to see how it responded.




The Bose 8-speaker audio system provides a good range of sound. It's clear and precise and plenty loud enough for the Acadia's cabin. Overall we thought the entire audio system was of high quality and the controls simple and well-laid out. There's a nice mix of knobs, buttons and touchscreen controls. Still, it's not the best out there and if you're an audiophile, you may want something better.

The Acadia is a highly versatile vehicle in total. It can be outfitted to meet your expectations and drives and rides wonderfully. Anyone interested in a crossover or smaller SUV should give this vehicle more than just a glance. Its new platform and massive weight drop mean it's drastically different than the outgoing model and the Acadia isn't what many people will remember it as. If you're looking for something upscale and agreeable in about every way (except rear visibility) the Acadia is for you.

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