Allnew 2017 GMC Acadia first drive – puts all midsize SUVs on

first_imgAnyone buying a GMC goes into that process eyes wide open with expectations of premium, precision, and reliability, at least that’s what the automaker tells me. That being said, the sense I get from GMC at the same time is that, over the years, the Acadia has always been somewhat the odd boy in the full lineup. Too big to play in the midsize SUV category, its potential buyers cross-shop with the likes of the 4Runner, Q5, Highlander, or Pathfinder. That size also starts to encroach on its close cousin, Traverse. For this new car, though, the switch to the same GM C1XX platform as the new Cadillac XT5 means it’ll go head to head in both size and price. On the new platform, the Acadia is 7.2 inches shorter and 3.5 inches narrower, and has a 6.4 inch shorter wheelbase.“The Acadia design looks more of muscular car than the outgoing model – it looks more aerodynamic because it is, it looks lighter, it is, it looks more agile, it is” Matt Noone, director of GMC Exterior Deign.Design overall is a big improvement over the first-generation Acadia. The front end with its upright grill has an air of confidence that borders on outright aggression, while the rest of the car escapes the excess of character lines or wind-tunnel-smoothed surfacing that affect many rivals. 2.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V6, both with a six-speed automatic transmission Less heft means GMC can “right size” the engine, automaker speech for slotting in a smaller powerplant for an uptick in economy without, on paper at least, sacrificing performance.In fact, with the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder you’re looking at an estimated EPA showing of of 21 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and a combined 23 mpg for the FWD, versus the 3.6-liter’s mpg of 18 city, 25 highway and 21 combined. GMC tells us that it’s capable of doing 0 to 60 mph in a little over 9 seconds, which isn’t too shabby, either.The smaller of the two engines gets start-stop functionality, cutting out when you’re at a standstill, while the V6 uses Active Fuel Management or cylinder deactivation, essentially downgrading it to a V4 when at cruising speeds without accelerations or light load.During my testing of the 4-cylinder, I got a combined average of 25.1 mpg on a 54.9 miles stretch and 25 mph for 272.9 miles.Those who can’t imagine a truck without a V6 under the hood get a refreshed 3.6-liter, that’s both more powerful and efficient than the outgoing car. It offers an estimated 4,000 pounds of towing capability as part of an optional towing package, along with an estimated 310 horsepower and 272 lb.ft. of torque.Both engines feature direct injection and variable valve timing, and are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and electronically controlled drive mode selector. It’s the same gearbox in each, though tuned differently for each drivetrain.
GMC made both engines available, and I found the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder the more interesting of the two. Present in FWD SLT-1 trim, it’s more than capable of getting you around town, though it get a little louder – mainly because it’s revving higher, working harder – when climbing hills, passing slower cars, or roaring up a freeway onramp. Other than that, though, you’re fine. The new V6, meanwhile, is smooth as butter and super quiet. It’s no racecar engine, of course, but there’s certainly enough torque to get going at a rapid pace. It’s important to note that opting for an All Terrain or Denali trim Acadia means only the 3.6-liter V6 is available. It’s an important decision to make, too, since only the All-Terrain model gets GMC’s advanced twin-clutch torque vectoring.The interior looks good and genuinely feels good tooThe new Acadia’s interior is still relatively spacious considering the reduction in size. It has a well thought out layout with more usable space and good visibility. GMC isn’t known for luxury – that’s saved for Cadillac – but that being said you get a Caddy-level of premium feel in the Denali, though less so in SLT and SL trims. GMC is keen to point out what it describes as “authentic materials” at the key touch points, and your fingers notice that fact. Story Timeline2016 GMC Canyon Diesel Review2017 Cadillac XT5 First Drive2016 Infiniti QX60 First Drive While it doesn’t necessary stand out from the crowd, it’s on par with what’s on the market today, and that’s not a bad thing. The family resemblances make a few key appearances, like the cut of the rear window.The entry-level Acadia starts at $30,000, the All-Terrain at $40,000, and the top-of-the-line Acadia Denali FWD is $45,845, though as tested it topped out at $52,185 complete with GM’s adaptive suspension, a $1,200 option. Sport mode in the Denali doesn’t necessary mean you can drive like you’re in a sports car, but it does firm up the suspension and tighten the steering around corners. It also pushes the all-wheel drive to more rear bias, as well as tweaking the throttle and transmission settings. All in all, I found it to be unexpectedly satisfying as I cruised through Virginia’s back country roads. The ride was neither too harsh nor prone to excessive body roll, which is a big deal for anyone prone to carsickness and who can find trucks wallow too much for comfort when pushed. Switching to the SLT trim without the adaptive suspension, meanwhile, and the regular setup proved more than sufficient for a comparatively short drive along the highway, city, and backcountry roads. It’s obvious that if you’re going to do more spirited driving – admittedly a minority interest in what’s an SUV after all – the Acadia without the option won’t feel quite as planted. If you’re keeping count against the Acadia’s most obvious stablemate and competition, it puts the highest-spec truck smack between the Cadillac XT5’s Premium ($51,895) and Premium Luxury AWD ($54,390) trims. Probably best to drive both, then, and do some soul searching as to whether you’re a Denali or a Caddy person.New engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder SIDIShedding the weight! That’s right, the new Acadia shed 740 pounds, and that’s a huge amount in the car world. As well as being smaller overall, there’s 280lb shaved from the vehicle structure and 100lb cut down inside the cabin by using lightweight acoustic materials for dampening. Hey, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Audi, and yes even Cadillac: GMC’s out to eat your lunch with the all-new 2017 Acadia. Targeting a wider group of buyers that spans the everyman through to thrill seekers and those looking for a premium experience without paying out for a luxury brand. GMC also went as far as taking aim at Jeep’s Grand Cherokee with the five-seat, All Terrain version of the Acadia. Question is, with such big plans and broad ambitions, can GMC succeed?last_img read more