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2018 GMC Acadia: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2018

The 2018 GMC Acadia is unique. You see, unlike every other GMC, there's no equivalent version of the Acadia offered by another GM brand. While its predecessor was the same basic vehicle as the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave with different styling, the 2018 Acadia is so different that it's more like a cousin now rather than a sibling.

Sure, it's still a 3-row crossover, but it's smaller inside and out. This means its seating is capped at seven (versus eight), and both its third-row and cargo space aren't as generous as what you'd find in those GM cousins and many competitors. Yet, its size reduction means it's more manageable to drive, easier to park and capable of using a smaller, more efficient base engine. Its powerful V6 engine option also has far less weight to lug around.

This makes the 2018 Acadia and 2018 Enclave more complementary choices within your local GMC-Buick dealer. However, there are so many worthwhile choices outside the GM family that you'd be wise to consider. Among them, the Acadia isn't exactly a stand-out class leader, but it's certainly worth a test drive.

What's New for 2018?

After being completely redesigned last year, the 2018 GMC Terrain gets a new All Terrain version that adds an advanced all-wheel-drive system and some visual enhancements. Unlike other so-named GMC's, however, we wouldn't say the Acadia All Terrain lives up to its rugged billing.

What We Like

Smaller-than-most size makes it more manageable and maneuverable; powerful V6; lots of easy-to-use infotainment features

What We Don't

Less cargo space and third-row seat room than most competitors; safety tech restricted to upper trims; unremarkable interior quality and design

How Much?

$29,000-$47,100

Fuel Economy

The Acadia offers two engines, both of which are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive.

Base models use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which makes 194 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 21 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined with front-wheel drive (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is basically the same.

Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6, which delivers 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with FWD, and 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined with AWD.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 GMC Acadia is offered in six trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and the upscale Denali. Five-, 6- and 7-passenger configurations are available.

The SL ($29,000) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, proximity entry and push-button start, tri-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth upholstery, OnStar emergency communications, a 7-in touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, USB ports and a 6-speaker sound system with a media player interface and an auxiliary audio jack. Seven-passenger seating is standard, but second-row captains chairs and therefore 6-passenger seating can be added.

The SLE-1 ($32,600) adds LED daytime running lights, a spare tire, carpeted floor mats and satellite radio, while the SLE-2 ($35,200) includes 18-in alloy wheels, foglights, roof rails, remote ignition, a power lift gate, an 8-way power driver's seat and heated front seats. Captain's become standard from here on, with 7-passenger seating becoming the option.

Pick the SLT-1 ($38,500), and you'll get auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirror, dual power front seats, leather upholstery, an 8-speaker Bose stereo system, upgraded gauges and the Driver Alert Package I (optional on SLE-2), which adds blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and rear parking sensors.

The All Terrain package, which can be added to SLE-2 and SLT-1, adds an enhanced all-wheel-drive system, hill-descent control, 20-in alloy wheels (not exactly ideal for driving on "all terrain"), black roof rails and 5-passenger seating. Six- or 7-passenger seating can be substituted.

Next up is the SLT-2 ($41,900), which adds the V6 engine as standard equipment, plus 20-in wheels, a Towing package, heated second-row seats and driver memory settings. It also includes the Driver Alert Package II, which adds low-speed forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, GM's Safety Alert seat, automatic highbeams and front parking sensors.

At the top of the lineup is the Denali ($45,100), which boasts special styling flourishes, xenon headlights, a hands-free power lift gate, a configurable gauge cluster, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel and a larger 8-in touchscreen (optional on all but SL and SLE-1). Drivers who opt for the Denali's Technology package also get a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control and higher-speed forward-collision automatic braking. Both the SLT-2 and Denali can be equipped with an optional adaptive suspension.

As for engine choices, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is standard on SL, SLE-1, SLE-2 and SLT-1 models. The V6 is optional in the SLE-2 and the SLT-1, and standard on the SLT-2 and the Denali.

Safety

All Acadia models come with front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a special airbag in between the front two seats. A rearview camera and OnStar emergency communications are also included. The Driver Alert I package adds blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and rear parking sensors. The Driver Alert II package, standard on and available only on SLT-2 and Denali, includes low-speed forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, GM's Safety Alert seat, automatic highbeams and front parking sensors.

Behind the Wheel

The latest GMC Acadia is certainly more maneuverable than its predecessor, as well as GM's Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. That smaller size, along with more responsive handling and steering, give the 2018 Acadia a sharper, more maneuverable feel, especially in tight spaces like parking garages or crowded city streets. We're also impressed with the SUV's improved visibility, its enhanced interior and its muscular optional V6, which offers more power than the 6-cylinder engines installed in virtually every rival. The standard 4-cylinder engine quite obviously doesn't have the V6's grunt, but we were honestly surprised at how well it gets the job done even if it's not the ideal candidate for hilly terrain or families who intend to keep their Acadia fully loaded at all times.

Inside, no one should complain about space in either of the second-row configurations. Third-row space is dramatically down from the Acadia's predecessor and its bigger GM crossover cousins, and is only capable of seating two. Space is actually pretty good, however, with the sliding second row making it possible for average-sized adults and teens to fit perfectly well. Really, it's the cargo area that takes the bigger hit, as there's only a paltry 12.8 cu ft. of space behind the raised third-row and 79 with all seats lowered -- figures bettered by most competitors.

And while we're impressed with the long list of features and equipment offered by the Acadia, the cabin's design and materials are unremarkable. This is especially true of upper trim levels, and don't be surprised if most rivals offer a more premium look, feel and vibe.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Chevrolet Traverse -- If you're looking for the same colossal interior space provided by the previous Acadia, you'll be able to find it (and more) in the redesigned Traverse. It's greatly improved in other areas too.

2018 Toyota Highlander -- Still one of the top midsize SUVs on the market, the Highlander offers excellent dependability, a higher-quality cabin, standard safety tech and a comparable size. Read GMC Acadia vs. Toyota Highlander: Which is Better?

2018 Volkswagen Atlas -- The Atlas is the new kid on the block. It's a big kid, too, possessing a huge cabin with adult-friendly space in every row. A solid, decidedly German driving feel is another advantage, along with an industry-best 6-year warranty.

Used Buick Enclave -- If you're shopping at the Acadia's lower price points, but are aching for more luxury features, then perhaps considering a used Enclave would be in order. You'd be getting more space, as well, although tech offerings weren't as advanced.

Autotrader's Advice

The power driver seat and power liftgate included with the SLE-2 seem like must-haves, so that's where we'd start. If leather seating is a must-have, then that probably makes the SLT-1 your best bet. The extra equipment included with upper trim levels is appealing, but the Acadia doesn't seem luxurious enough inside given their hefty prices.

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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.
2018 GMC Acadia: New Car Review - Autotrader