The Renaissance Machine
When I was a kid my mother always dropped me and my brother off at school; every morning until I was old enough to drive. That means I’ve spent years observing mom-mobiles picking up and dropping off little millennials at school with hands carrying lunch boxes instead of smart phones. Back then it was either a big SUV or a mini-van with sedans and trucks in-between. Now I can’t tell if a vehicle is a crossover, a mid-size crossover, or a tall sub-compact hatchback. That’s the attitude I felt when I first looked at the 2017 GMC Acadia.
My first ignorant impression of the Acadia was not too kind, “Another in-betweener”, I thought. However, when I stepped inside I noticed something that looked very out of place in a vehicle this size. Down on the console, just below the gear shift, was a little knob that is typically used to change between 2WD and AWD, or other off-road settings. This knob had a picture of a little race flag, “A sport mode? In an Acadia?” It peaked my interest and after spending a week with the All-Terrain Acadia I can say that this is one SUV that actually can cross over into different vehicle classes without having an identity crisis.
According to GMC, the Acadia falls in the lineup between the smaller Terrain and the golden boy Yukon. The Acadia is a mid-size SUV that can seat up to 7 people with a third row, and has enough towing capacity to satisfy the average weekend adventurer. This is a middle child, therefore, it has to find a way to stand out from the pack and it does this with array of talents, but let’s start with styling.
A friend of mine thought I had driven up in a Dodge Durango when he saw the profile of the Acadia, and I can see a similarity in the rear quarter windows. The Acadia has lost a lot of weight since its previous generation in 2015 and managed to shred 700 pounds off its chassis for a leaner, meaner look. No more chubby cheeks for a front-end as GMC’s designers gave it cheek bones and a confident smile to show off its toned design. The previous Acadia could weigh in at nearly 4,900 pounds at its heaviest, but now hovers around 4,200 or less depending on options.
This Acadia was equipped with the All-Terrain package which includes leather seats, AC vents for the back, aluminum wheels, and GMC’s advanced all-wheel drive system. The exterior’s ebony twilight metallic paint was a great color choice to match with interior’s Jet Black/Kalahari seats that gave the SUV a more upscale, Denali-ish, feel. The interior is also quiet enough to hold a conference meeting if needed.
I was lucky to have the Acadia at this point in my life because I was moving into a new apartment and my life does not fit in the trunk of my little daily driver. Once the rear seat was folded down I had a panel van worth of space. I was able to fit not only my stuff but my brother’s stuff as well. From skateboards to nightstands it all fit perfectly in the back of the Acadia. The push-button tailgate meant I didn’t have to pull down a heavy door with sore muscles. Not to mention that the Acadia also has lots of small compartments in the back for the miscellaneous objects in your life.
On the dashboard you get the usual touchscreen with Wifi, Apple Car-play, satellite radio, and seat warmers. The Acadia has a new safety feature that when I discovered it made me worry for the future of this nation. The Acadia has a Rear Seat Reminder which are sensors on the rear doors that if you open them within ten minutes of starting the vehicle it will ding and flash the dashboard reminding you to check your backseat when you turn the vehicle off.
This is to prevent people from living things like babies and pets inside a locked car. You know, things that can slip a person’s mind. A great safety feature but one that makes you wonder how distracted we are becoming as a society when the car itself has to remind you not to leave another living thing inside a hot car.
There are two engines available with the Acadia, a 2.5 liter four cylinder that pushes the SUV using 193 horsepower. The one I was driving came with the upgraded 3.6 liter V6 with a very satisfying 310 horsepower and a Hydra-Matic 6-speed transmission sending power to all four wheels.
The Acadia was delivered to me reading 500 miles of range out from its 22 gallon tank. I burned through all of it in 7 days even though the Acadia gets 25 mpg on highway and 18 in the city. The reason being because I had so much fun driving this SUV! That V6 engine coupled with AWD makes the Acadia feel like it wants to carve up a canyon, and that’s exactly what I did at 7 am on a Sunday morning.
All-Wheel Drive Handler
The roads look like mirrors as the week long rainstorm continues to bath the pavement. No traffic because everyone is still in pajamas… except for me and the Acadia. I’m not going to lie, I had doubts in my driving ability if the Acadia decided to misbehave. AWD or not, this is still a 2-ton vehicle with a high center of gravity that I was about to rip through a wet twisty Texas hill country road with the traction control turned off. I set it to sport mode before giving my seat belt a few tugs to make sure it was tight.
This was a road full of tight turns with posted speed limits of 15 mph. I was barreling down them at over 50 mph with the Acadia doing most of the work. All I had to do was turn the wheel and keep my foot down to feel all four wheels grip through the turns as the Acadia laughed in the face of physics. Body roll was minimal for such a large vehicle. It never misbehaved even when I pushed it. The most I got was faint tire squeal when I made a U-turn at the end of run. I am by no means a professional driver so the Acadia’s AWD sport mode is something special worth mentioning because you wouldn’t expect it from a vehicle like this.
The 2017 GMC Acadia All-Terrain is a Renaissance vehicle. It drives like a sedan on the street, carries stuff like a van, can tow like a pickup, and can tackle a curvy road like a performance handler. A base Acadia starts around the low 30’s with the All-Terrain and Denali taking it up to the 40’s and beyond. This one had a sticker value of $48,000. Which does seem high but when you consider that this SUV can do more than just haul people around the price begins to speak for itself, a little.