Losing weight and consuming less is a good plan for most people. It’s also good for most automobiles, and the new 2017 GMC Acadia that’s now on sale is an ideal case in point.
It’s smaller, lighter and more manageable than the outgoing model, which will actually continue to be sold for the time being in a fully loaded Acadia Limited model.
Why, then, is the new Acadia smaller? Because the previous version was even larger in most key dimensions than the more rugged body-on-frame Yukon. It made anyone ask what the point of Yukon was when the Acadia was bigger, roomier, had a better ride, cost far less money and used less gas.
Now there is a point to the Yukon; the 2017 Acadia is smaller. Although it can still be had with three rows of seats, the Acadia is 7.2 inches shorter, 3.5 inches narrower and shrinks by more than half a foot between the front and rear wheels.
There is a downside to this downsizing, too. The folding third-row seat is more kid- than adult-friendly, cargo capacity has shrunk quite a bit and maximum towing capacity has been reduced to 4,000 pounds from 5,200.
With a smaller base powerplant factored in, the new Acadia also weighs a significant 700 pounds less. That plus its trimmed-down dimensions places it squarely in the midsize bracket where the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander jockey for position.
The Acadia’s smaller, lighter platform is derived from the same one used in the 2017 Cadillac XT5 and will also wind up in a reduced version of the similar Chevrolet Traverse.
As you might expect, the new Acadia looks quite different, even though the design is reminiscent of the Explorer from the sides and Durango from the front. In other words, the Acadia doesn’t break styling ground, but still manages to look pretty slick.
Inside, the dashboard — especially the touch-screen display — is clearly influenced by other General Motors vehicles. The seating configurations vary when optioned with individually folding second-row buckets that also slide forward to make third-row access a bit easier.
For the new Acadia there are two engine choices. The new base 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.6-liter V-6 that’s rated at 310 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque compared with 288/270 for the 3.6 V-6 the Acadia Limited. The four-cylinder is the fuel-economy champ of the duo, earning a rating of 21 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.
A six-speed automatic transmission is common to both engines.
All-wheel drive is a popular staple in this class and is available with both the four- and six-cylinder engines. Under normal driving, all-wheel drive disconnects the rear axle to save on gas, or it can be switched to 4×4, Sport, Off Road or Trailer/Tow modes by adjusting the console-mounted selector knob.
Pricing for the base SL trim starts at $30,000 including destination charges. For that sum, you get tri-zone climate control, keyless open and start, rear-vision camera and a front-center airbag that deploys from the right-hand side of the driver’s seat to separate the driver and front passenger from each other during a side-impact collision.
The SLE and SLT trims add a variety of drivetrain and luxury content, leading to the sporty five-passenger All Terrain model that’s heavy on the black paint and blacked-out trim and is specially equipped for off-road travel.
The pinnacle of Acadia extravagance is the Denali, with a chromed-up exterior trim, hands-free power liftgate, wood and leather-coated interior bits, heated and cooled seats, 20-inch wheels (18s are standard) and a variety of active safety systems to prevent collisions.
With GMC’s full-size tall-wagon bases covered by the Yukon lineup, repurposing the Acadia as a midsize family hauler makes perfect sense. It now hits a sweeter spot with buyers seeking lots of space and comfort in a more manageable size.