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2020 GMC Acadia Review

GMC reinvented its Acadia in 2017. What we see today in the 2020 GMC Acadia is a somewhat shorter, narrower vehicle than the original, which now competes in the midsize segment. Breaking away from the marginally larger Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, the 3-row Acadia spars with mostly 2-row midsize rivals like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Honda Passport, the Hyundai Santa Fe and the all-new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. The fact that Acadia offers three rows is a big advantage within this class.


GMC hasn’t allowed Acadia to go to seed. This year it tweaked the exterior styling, added its new familial AT4 off-road grade and brought a turbo four into the engine lineup. The only real downside to the Acadia is its above average price compared to the crossover competition. Otherwise, it’s a fearsome adversary among midsize CUVs.


What’s New for 2020?

There are lots of updates for 2020. One of the more significant ones is the introduction of the AT4 off-road grade into the trim lineup. Also huge is the new available 2.0-liter turbocharged four, and a new 9-speed automatic transmission now pairs with all engines as well. The infotainment system is enhanced. Later in the model year a head-up display will be available. A few exterior styling tweaks round out the changes. See the 2020 GMC Acadia models for sale near you


What We Like

  • Its size is more manageable and maneuverable
  • Powerful V6
  • Two fuel-saving 4-cylinder choices
  • Lots of easy-to-use infotainment features


What We Don’t

  • Less cargo space than most competitors
  • Safety tech restricted to upper trims
  • So-so interior quality and styling


How Much?



Fuel Economy

The Acadia offers three engines, all of which are mated to an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.


Base models use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 194 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 21 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving with FWD. The AWD configuration is basically the same.


Standard in the SLT is the new 230-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which generates 258 lb-ft of torque. The estimated fuel numbers are 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. AWD shaves 1 mpg off the highway and combined numbers.


Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6 (standard on AT4 and Denali), 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 2020 GMC Acadia is offered in five trim levels: SL, SLE, SLT, AT4 and the upscale Denali, with 5-, 6- and 7-passenger configurations available. Adding 4WD to any grade — except the AT4 — increases the bottom line by $2,000. AWD is standard on the AT4. All prices reflect the $1,195 factory destination fee.


The SL ($30,995) 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, blind-spot monitor, lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-park assist, 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 as well.


The SLE ($34,995) adds 18-in alloy wheels, a spare tire, carpeted floor mats, a road-emergency tool kit and satellite-radio capabilities.


Pick the SLT ($40,895) and you’ll get the all-new 4-cylinder turbo, hands-free power liftgate, 8-in touchscreen, upgraded infotainment system with navigation, 18-in machined alloy wheels, brushed-aluminum roof rails, LED fog lights, a 120-volt power outlet, 6-passenger seating with second-row captain’s chairs, leather first- and second-row seats, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, heated front seats, an 8-speaker Bose audio system with HD radio, an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror and remote start.


The all-new AT4 ($44,395) focuses on off-roading. Compared to the SLT, it gains the V6 engine, advanced-clutch AWD, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, 17-in aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, black roof rails, a second-row bench seat with 5-passenger seating, and a cargo-management system. It also loses rear climate controls.


At the top of the lineup is the Denali ($47,990), which boasts special styling flourishes, 20-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, a configurable gauge cluster, an 8-way power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, 2-person memory settings for driver’s seat and outboard mirrors, a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, wireless charging, automatic emergency braking with forward pedestrian detection, forward collision alert, auto high-beam on/off, front/rear park assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and a safety-alert driver’s seat.


Drivers opting for the Denali’s Technology package also get a 360-degree camera system, upgraded adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a rear camera mirror with a washer and higher-speed forward-collision automatic braking. Both the SLT-2 and the Denali can be equipped with an optional adaptive suspension.


There’s a wide variety of packages (too many to list here) available for each grade, except the SL.



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. Also standard across the board are blind-spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic warning system and rear parking sensors.


The Driver Alert II package, which is standard on the Denali and available on the SLT and the AT4, includes low-speed forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, front/rear parking assist, automatic highbeams and a head-up display.


The 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. The 2020 Acadia’s smaller size, along with its more responsive handling and steering, give it a sharper, more maneuverable feel, especially in tight spaces. We’re also impressed with this CUV’s visibility and its muscular V6, which is optional or standard on most trims and offers more power than the 6-cylinder engines installed in virtually every rival. The entry-level 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.


The all-new 4-cylinder turbo is the classic mix of on-demand acceleration and (probably) sensible fuel economy.


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 reasonably 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 cu ft. 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, so don’t be surprised if most rivals offer a more premium look, feel and vibe.


Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Passport – Honda’s two-row CUV that slots in under the Pilot, the Passport, offers a roomy cabin and the Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies.


2020 Hyundai Santa Fe – A well-rounded two-row CUV, the 2020 Santa Fe is as technologically advanced as just about any vehicle out there.


2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee – With more opportunity for outfitting with luxury appointments and more aggressive AWD, the 2020 Grand Cherokee still competes with the Acadia.


Used Buick Enclave If you’re shopping at the Acadia’s lower price points but are aching for more luxury features, consider a used Enclave. You’d be getting more space, as well, although the tech offerings aren’t as advanced.


Autotrader’s Advice


We think the SL is fairly well equipped, but GMC provides this trim as a no-frills, budget choice. There are no available options for it. For the extra money, the SLE doesn’t add much to the SL’s standard features list, but it does unlock a load of possibilities for options. We’d go with the SLE and then pick the options we want. Find a GMC Acadia for sale


Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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