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2017 GMC Acadia: First Drive Review

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2016

The midsize SUV segment is among the most competitive in the market, with virtually every automaker grappling for position against a long list of highly competent rivals. This year, the 2017 GMC Acadia is looking to enter the fight. The new model is a fully redesigned, totally new replacement for the outgoing Acadia, which made its debut back in 2007.

So does the new version have what it takes to compete? We spent some time behind the wheel in order to find out.

What's New?

Given that the outgoing Acadia was approaching a decade without any major changes, what's new is, well, just about everything.

The 2017 boasts new features, fresh styling, a rebooted interior and updated powertrains. Perhaps most importantly, the new Acadia is smaller than the outgoing model, coming in 7.2 inches shorter and 700 pounds lighter. That places the vehicle smack-dab in the middle of the midsize SUV segment, exiting the no-man's-land of being larger than midsize but smaller than large to compete with rivals such as the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.

From the outside, the substantial updates are instantly recognizable. The new Acadia boasts a thoroughly revised, modern look that shares only a few styling details with its predecessor, such as the large C-pillar and the wraparound rear window.

Changes are similarly thorough on the inside. The Acadia offers an improved interior with better materials and a design that's much more capable of going toe-to-toe with major rivals. It's worth noting, however, that the vehicle's cabin is smaller than before, and that means less cargo space and less room in the SUV's third row.

New Features, New Engines

But changes go further than the SUV's appearance and size. The new model is now offered with all the latest high-tech gadgets, from a 360-degree camera system to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and low-speed forward-collision braking. There's even a neat rear-seat reminder feature that aims to prevent children being left in hot cars: If the driver opens or closes a rear door before setting off, the technology reminds them to look in the back seat when they've reached their destination.

Under the hood, the Acadia offers two engines, both new for 2017 and paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Base models use a 194-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that returns around 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, while drivers looking for more power (which will be the majority of SUV shoppers interested in the Acadia) can upgrade to a muscular new 310-hp 3.6-liter V6 that gets up to 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

On the Road

So how does it all come together? With so much time to mull over the redesign and so many competitors to examine, it should come as no surprise that the new Acadia is an excellent midsize SUV. Although we didn't have a chance to test it with the 4-cylinder engine, the V6 is muscular, smooth and surprisingly free of noise even under hard acceleration. The same goes for the rest of the SUV: It offers the comfortable, refined ride we've come to expect from the most competitive players in this segment.

We also enjoyed spending time in the Acadia's vastly overhauled interior, especially since the new version offers the all-important Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features. The Acadia touts comfortable front seats and a spacious back seat. It offers excellent visibility to all sides, bolstered by lane-departure warning, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

If we have any gripes about the Acadia, they relate solely to its size. While the Acadia's dimensions are now fairly standard for midsize SUVs, shoppers familiar with the outgoing model will likely be disappointed by the 2017's shrinking. The new edition offers one less seat than the outgoing model, a much smaller third row and just 79 cu ft. of cargo room -- respectable, but a far cry from the previous version's 116 cu ft.

However, with the Acadia's smaller size comes a smaller price. The new model starts around $30,000 with shipping -- that saves you around $2,000 compared to the outgoing version, and the discount continues throughout the SUV's trim levels.

Our Take

Although the 2017 GMC Acadia doesn't offer anything to get especially excited about, few midsize SUVs do; they are, after all, the unsung heroes of the suburbs, not the racetrack or the off-road trails.

GMC's latest SUV does its job competently, quietly and without drama. It offers most of today's latest high-tech and safety features, a smooth ride, excellent powertrains and a new, modern design. We think these traits earn the new Acadia a place on any midsize-SUV shopping list.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 GMC Acadia: First Drive Review - Autotrader