Pardon me if I get the name of my tester this week confused. This week I’m driving the 2018 GMC Acadia with the All-Terrain package. But, like a bad ABBA song (they’re all bad), I couldn’t get the Terrain out of my head, and occasionally would refer to the Acadia as the Terrain, which is its smaller brother. Thank goodness for copy editors (who make me sound great on a regular basis) who will surely catch me when I call the Acadia by the wrong name. Acadia, Acadia, Acadia. There, I think I got it.
There’s not much changed for the 2018 model year for this three-row, midsize SUV. That’s because last year the Acadia went through a complete overhaul that included a major weight loss. I didn’t drive last year’s version, however, so this was my first seat time in the new Acadia.
Now more than ever it drives like a car, and that will certainly resonate with today’s car buyer. Midsize SUVs are so popular because they’re more carlike than truck-like anymore. With the Acadia, it’s a good blend of car and truck. The drop in weight is noticeable in overall drive performance, but also on the interior, where the third row is truly too small for adults.
On looks this GMC fits in the stable of other GMC SUVs. This niche brand of General Motors has a devoted consumer base that likes its upscale feel. The Acadia is an SUV though, when it comes to aesthetics. It sits high enough off the ground and has a stout outward appearance.
After 2017’s redesign the front-end styling is timeless, lacking fad-like frills and instead focusing on attractive fit and finish. From the mesh-like grille to the dual rear exhaust, the Acadia looks the part of a stalwart, reliable SUV. A roof rack show its sturdy, workhorse mentality, and on profile, the indented feature on the side panels is eye-pleasing.
Generally speaking, the GMC brand, similar to the Buick brand, is known for smooth performance, and the Acadia doesn’t disappoint. There’s a base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that seems like it might be sluggish, but my tester was the adequately powered 3.6-liter V6 engine. This one makes 310 horses and has confident acceleration and is quick off the line.
Most buyers will want to consider this engine as the go-to option as the overall performance is enjoyable, but doesn’t sacrifice the smooth, comfortable drive performance. Even with that kind of power, the Acadia remains refined. Alas, the six-speed automatic transmission still feels antiquated as more gears would relate to better fuel economy and a more modern performance. With all-wheel drive the Acadia is still confident over multiple terrains.
Mated with the All-Terrain package, the Acadia is rugged. With this package, it has multiple drive settings and also hill descent and 20-inch wheels. In this regard, the Acadia separates itself from many of the other midsize SUVs on the road as it’s truly off-road capable.
Inside, the Acadia shows why the GMC brand has such a loyal following. It’s not quite a luxury-level vehicle, but the interior feels special nonetheless. Higher-quality materials help the Acadia feel more special than other similar SUVs. Despite last year’s drop in size, the first- and second-row seats still offer plenty of leg and head room. The third row should be limited to children as this is where space was sacrificed.
Touch points throughout are fantastic, including leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Front seats are heated. The infotainment seat is intuitive with an 8-inch, responsive touchscreen.
Some of the All-terrain packaged Acadias don’t have the third row which would make for a really useful, amazing SUV. My tester did have the third row and as such the cargo room behind the third row is only 12.8 cubic feet. Fold that flat and it increases to 41.7 cubic feet. With all seats down, the Acadia has an impressive overall cargo area of 79 cubic feet.
The Acadia has five available trims including: SL, SLE, SLT-1, SLT-2 and the top-of-the-line Denali. My tester was the SLT-1 which has a driver alert package, upgraded infotainment system and leather upholstery as standard features. There’s also an eight-speaker Bose audio system. Adding the Exterior Convenience Package brings a roof rack and molded side assist steps. Starting price for the SLT-1 is $41,500. My tester with the aforementioned Convenience Package and the All-Terrain Package meant a final MSRP of $48,435.
The AWD Acadia with the V6 engine has an EPA rating of 17 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. I averaged nearly 20 mpg in a week’s worth of suburban driving.
The Acadia lives in a competitive segment, even under its own GM family umbrella. Kudos to me for not once calling it the Terrain!
Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist.