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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 GMC Acadia
Redesigned for 2017, the three-row GMC Acadia can be gussied up or dressed down. With half a dozen trim levels, three seating configurations, and several optional equipment packages on tap, the Acadia ranks as one of the most versatile SUVs on the market.
The Acadia’s base model runs on a 193-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. But that’s just the beginning. Available in six trims — SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2, and the top-of-the-line Denali — the Acadia can be outfitted with a 310-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6, all-wheel drive, and an All Terrain package tuned for off-road dynamics. Depending on the use of captain’s chairs and bench seats, the Acadia can seat up to seven passengers.
The muscular midsize SUV packs an impressive range of standard equipment, including five USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system. Even the base model gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Buyers can add navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, a sunroof, an eight-way front passenger power seat adjuster, an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system, and an 8-inch touch screen.
The Acadia received top scores in all crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A rearview camera is standard. Several advanced driver assistance features are available, including forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, and rear park assist. The upgraded driver alert package adds side blind zone alert with lane change alert, low speed forward automatic braking, front pedestrian detection, following distance indicator, and IntelliBeam automatic headlamp control.
The standard Acadia delivers 21 miles per gallon around town and 26 mpg on the highway. Those figures drop to 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for V6-equipped models.
The 2018 GMC Acadia starts at $29,995.
What the experts are saying
“The GMC Acadia earns our 2017 Top Safety Pick award. It qualifies, in part, by performing well across the board in crash tests. Only Acadias equipped with the optional Technology Package, which includes an automatic emergency braking system, earn the Top Safety Pick designation because crash avoidance performance is part of the award criteria. The Acadia’s system is rated superior in our track tests, preventing a collision at 12 mph and reducing the impact speed considerably in the 25 mph test. What keeps the Acadia from grabbing the higher Top Safety Pick+ designation is that this vehicle is only available with marginal or poor-rated headlights. Good or acceptable-rated headlights are required for the plus.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
“The all-new Acadia is a top-to-bottom redesign, which improves upon the already great-selling crossover. With available seven-passenger seating, advanced all-wheel drive and a five-star crash test rating, it may very well be the most capable and safest family vehicle on the road. The Acadia also offers the legendary Denali trim line. The Denali provides our customers the luxury and comfort they have come to expect from GMC. The Acadia offers the full complement of safety and luxury features including heated and cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist as well as the 360-degree camera. The comfort of the Acadia is incomparable, which you will see when you drive one.” – Bob Masse, general manager at Paul Masse Buick GMC South in South Kingstown, Rhode Island
“When the GMC Acadia received a full redesign last year, it emerged smaller and lighter than its predecessor. This made it easier to drive and gave it better fuel economy. In exchange, it lost some passenger and cargo space, but most shoppers should still find it adequate. Adequate also describes the base four-cylinder engine, which is why we’re partial to the V6 upgrade and its hefty bump in horsepower. We give the Acadia high marks for its comfortable ride quality and plentiful tech and safety features, but caution buyers to keep an eye on the bottom line as options are added. The range-topping Denali trim has a lot to offer, but for the money, it’s not as refined or luxurious as other SUVs in its price range. We suggest checking out some of its higher-rated rivals that include the Ford Explorer Sport, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander before deciding on the GMC.” – Mark Takahashi, senior writer, Edmunds