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Smaller and better GMC Acadia due in spring

GMC crossover downsized to better align with customers’ expectations

Published: January 17, 2016, 5:30 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:05 PM

2017 GMC Acadia Denali

General Motors has begun its crossover utility shuffle for the next generation of vehicles, with one of the stars being the new GMC Acadia.

Pay close attention because it’s going to get tricky in spots. The Acadia was built on the same platform as the Buick Enclave and the Chevrolet Traverse. They were all classified as full-size crossovers, with seating for as many as eight occupants.

Toward the end of 2015, Buick announced plans to market a China-made crossover called Envision to slot in between its Enclave and the compact Encore. It turns out Envision will share a platform with the new Acadia and an as-yet-unnamed Chevrolet model.

2017 GMC Acadia All-Terrain

That has several implications. It means Acadia gets downsized slightly to fit into a mid-size mould that would still keep it larger than the “small” GMC Terrain (which is basically a rebadged Chevrolet Equinox), and leave Traverse and Enclave to carry on as full-size models.

GM has also announced that Equinox will also be downsized slightly for its next generation, meaning it will likely share a platform with the Encore, as well as with a new Terrain.

When it all shakes out, it looks as if GMC won’t have a full-size CUV to counter Buick and Chevrolet brands, but when you have a flexible offering in the truck-like Yukon (which some CUV customers apparently prefer), it probably doesn’t matter. Still, Chevrolet does have a Traverse AND a Tahoe …

“It’s a confident design influenced by extensive customer input,” said Helen Emsley, executive director, Global GMC Design and User Experience. “The original Acadia was very truck-inspired, but the new model has a decidedly SUV influence conveyed in sculptural details, softened corners and a sleeker windshield angle.”

Outside of the evolutionary looks, here’s what we know of the upcoming 2017 Acadia. Overall length is shortened by 183 mm (about seven inches), height lowered by about 100 mm (almost 4 in.) and width tucked in by 89 mm (about 3.5 in.). The main benefactor of that downsizing is weight savings of 318 kg … yes, that’s a whopping 700 lbs. The downside is that the most people you can fit in is reduced to seven.

2017 GMC Acadia driving mode selector

It will also be available for the first time with a 4-cylinder engine — a 2.5-litre “four” that returns a reported 8.4 L/100 km in highway driving (10.7 in the city, reportedly) and features stop/start technology. A similarly sized engine in the new Impala makes 196 hp. Acadia will continue to be available with a 3.6-litre V-6, the current model of which endows the Acadia with 281 hp although the company says the new one makes 310 and is capable of trailering up to 4,000 lbs (with a towing package).

Acadia continues as a front-drive model with available all-wheel drive. A new drive mode selector allows the driver to alter chassis and powertrain to suit a variety of driving conditions —Normal, Snow, Sport and Trailer/Tow. AWD models offer 2x4 (AWD disconnect), 4x4, Sport, Off Road and Trailer/Tow modes.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali interior

Inside, all Acadia trim levels feature unique interior color and trim combinations with prominent aluminum trim. The highly connected Acadia comes with IntelliLink, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a mobile WiFi hotspot.

New safety features include automatic braking (on select models), surround vision cameras, automatic headlight high-beam control, and a safety alert seat that tells drivers if an item has been left in the second or third row seats. Forward collision alert, lane keep and blind zone assists, and rear parking assist with a camera to also aid in hitching up a trailer, all continue to be available.

The new Acadia is due in dealerships in spring 2016 as a 2017 model.

“The new Acadia captures a greater feeling of refinement, in everything from the responsive feeling behind the wheel to the way passengers interact with its intuitive features,” concludes Rick Spina, executive chief engineer for compact and crossover SUVs at General Motors. “It’s a vehicle that offers the functionality Acadia is known for, while delivering big advantages and balance to customers’ everyday lives.”