• New exterior design with upscale standard features like LED running lights
  • First-ever front center airbag
  • Seating for eight, with fold-flat second and third rows

Here at the Chicago Auto Show, GMC just took the wraps off of the new 2013 Acadia. The redesigned three-row, eight-passenger crossover has updated styling inside and out and improved standard safety features, while maintaining its predecessor's versatility for hauling both people and cargo.

On the outside, new LED daytime running lights are standard, complemented by either standard projector beam or optional HID headlamps. The 2013 Acadia gets a bold, three-bar grille, wrap-around rear glass, a new rear spoiler and 18- or 19-inch wheels. Inside, French stitching adds a premium look to the Acadia's upholstery. Red ambient light provides a subtle glow to the dash. The door panels, center console and dash are accented with aluminum on SLT models.

When it comes to safety, the outgoing 2012 Acadia is no slouch. It earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating thanks to the best possible marks in each measured category. But that did not stop GMC from engineering an industry-first front center airbag for the 2013 model. The center airbag deploys between the driver and front passenger to protect the occupant on the non-struck side of the vehicle. Further safety equipment includes a standard backup camera and available radar-based blind spot and rear crossing alert systems.

Versatility is a must for buyers in this segment, and the 2013 Acadia delivers seating in seven- and eight-passenger configurations, plus fold-flat second and third rows to maximize cargo space. A trip to the home improvement store is made easier thanks to a cargo space wide enough to accept standard 48-inch sheet materials. Should more cargo capacity be required, an optional towing package is available.

Big, three-row crossover vehicles like the GMC Acadia provide an excellent alternative for those who need plenty of passenger and cargo space. Sure, minivans are spacious, but styling often leaves something to be desired. And many SUVs look cool, but fuel economy can be weak, and suspensions designed to handle off-road driving can be uncomfortable. Crossovers, or CUVs, meanwhile, combine car-like rides and better fuel economy than SUVs and often look sportier than minivans. Perhaps it is this combination that allows GMC's Acadia to be such a strong seller. Improvements for the 2013 model year may help GMC to continue that trend.

What it means to you: The 2013 GMC Acadia remains a versatile hauler, but updated safety equipment and styling inside and out make it more aesthetically appealing, too.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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