2017 GMC Acadia First Look -- Large Crossover Gets Smaller, Lighter
Crossover Gets I-4 Option for First Time
“Lightweighting” seems to be the major buzzword in the automotive industry in the last few years, with companies analyzing each component on the vehicle to make it as light as possible while retaining strength, safety, and buyers’ expectations of practicality and fuel economy. Ford went all-in with aluminum on the F-150, resulting in an almost 700-pound weight loss, depending on model. GMC is claiming as dramatic a weight loss on the front-wheel-drive Acadia, with base curb weight going from a claimed 4,656 to 3,956 pounds.
However, this dramatic weight loss has not come about just from elven magic. The new Acadia is dramatically smaller than its predecessor in nearly every dimension. The wheelbase is 6.4 inches shorter, overall length is 7.2 inches shorter, width is 3.5 inches narrower, and height is 3.9 inches lower. Size wise, the new Acadia is about the same size as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Most models still offer three rows of seating, with the exception of the new All Terrain model, which seems to be targeted to Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers, with a special Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system for enhanced traction on and off-road. The All Terrain offers covered storage areas in place of a third-row seat.
The other big weight-loss enabler, on models so equipped, is the new standard 2.5L I-4 engine, the first time a four-cylinder has been offered in an Acadia. Unlike Ford’s EcoBoost strategy, the engine is naturally aspirated, offering an SAE-certified 194 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. The optional V-6 continues to be a 3.6L DOHC V-6 but is now the LGX, rather than last year’s LLT. The engine features a slightly larger bore than last year and improved breathing, which results in a gain of between 22 and 29 hp over its predecessor (depending on exhaust configuration). Both engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. GM estimates fuel economy for front-drive models will be 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the I-4 and 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for the V-6. Official fuel economy figures are still pending.
Although we’re positive the new Acadia will be much more engaging to drive than its somewhat ponderous predecessor, one unavoidable sacrifice in the leaner new model is a smaller interior. The current Lambda fullsize crossovers (GMC Acadia/Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse) are famous for their exceptionally roomy third rows. The 2016 Acadia has 33.2 inches of legroom. The 2017 model has 31.1. Second-row room also shrinks slightly from 39.7 to 36.8 inches. Cargo capacity takes a significant hit, with maximum cargo volume going from 116.1 cubic feet to 79 and room behind the third row going from 24.1 to 12.8 cubic feet. Towing capacity is also significantly reduced from 5,200 pounds to a maximum of 4,000 pounds in the new model. Buyers looking for more towing and hauling capacity will likely be steered to the more traditional Yukon.
The 2017 Acadia also features a number of new optional safety features, including pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, low speed forward automatic braking, lane keep assist, IntelliBeam automatic high-beam control, a surround vision camera, and a Tow Vision Trailering system giving dynamic guidelines for easier trailer hitching. Another innovative feature on the 2017 model is a Safety Alert Seat warning drivers of items (and also presumably pets and children) left on the rear seats. As with most new GM models, the new Acadia features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
If the 2017 Acadia sounds appealing, you won’t have to wait long, with sales scheduled to start in spring 2016.