Unlike other GMC models, the 2019 GMC Acadia isn’t directly related to a nameplate somewhere else within GM. Originally, it was the GMC version of the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave, but GMC changed that with Acadia’s 2017 redesign, resulting in a shorter, narrower, lighter vehicle. There are pluses and minuses in this downsizing. On the minus side, there is less cargo space and rear-seat legroom. Among the pluses, the tidier Acadia is more nimble, maneuverable and easier to park. Thanks to its 700-or-so-pound loss in heft, a smaller, less fuel-thirsty 4-cylinder not available in the Traverse or the Enclave, serves as its base engine, providing consumers with a more fuel-efficient, albeit less powerful, choice.
All of this is a way of saying that although the Acadia is a 3-row crossover, it is really a unique choice within the GM family. It’s sort of a Traverse/Enclave mini-me. There is no lack of qualified Acadia competitors, but we believe this GMC is well worth a test drive.
What’s New for 2019?
A little tweaking around the edges sums up GMC’s efforts in bringing the Acadia forward for 2019. A new Black Edition for SLT versions includes 20-inch aluminum wheels with black accents, a black grille insert with black surround, black headlamp/taillamp details, black mirror caps and black roof rails. The All Terrain gets a new available 17-in wheel design. Toss in a few new exterior colors, and there you have it.
What We Like
Smaller-than-most size makes it more manageable and maneuverable; powerful V6; lots of easy-to-use infotainment features; fuel-saving 4-cylinder
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
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 FWD. 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 hwy/21 mpg combined with FWD and 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined with AWD.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 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. Adding 4WD to any grade increases the bottom line by $2,000. All prices reflect the $1,195 factory destination fee.
The SL ($30,095) includes 17-in 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 captain’s chairs and 6-passenger seating can be added.
The SLE-1 ($33,995) adds LED daytime running lights, a spare tire, carpeted floor mats and satellite radio, while the SLE-2 ($36,395) includes 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, roof rails, remote ignition, a power lift gate, an 8-way power driver’s seat and heated front seats. Captain’s chairs become standard from here on, with 7-passenger seating becoming the option.
Pick the SLT-1 ($39,195), and you’ll get an 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 the SLE-2 and the 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 ($43,095), 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 ($46,695), 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 the SL and the 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 the 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.
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 and available only on the SLT-2 and the 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.
Acadia earned the IIHS top score of Good across all of its crash tests. In government testing, it received an overall score of five stars out of five stars.
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 2019 Acadia a sharper, more maneuverable feel, especially in tight spaces. We’re also impressed with the SUV’s improved visibility and its muscular optional V6, offering more power than the 6-cylinder engines installed in virtually every rival. The standard 4-cylinder engine 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 it’s only capable of seating two. Space is actually pretty good, however, with the sliding second row making it possible for 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.
Although we’re impressed with Acadia’s long list of features and equipment, its cabin 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
2019 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.
2019 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.
2019 Volkswagen Atlas — The Atlas is one of the newer kids 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 aren’t as advanced.
The power driver seat and power lift gate 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.