At every auto show there are big headline grabbing releases. These are releases like concept cars (Buick Avista) and production high end luxury vehicles (2017 Lincoln Continental and 2017 Lexus LC 500) that draw crowds and clicks, but after the lights are turned off at the Cobo Center those vehicles mean little to the average car buyer. Then there is news that matters to more in everyday life… important, just not headline grabbing. One of those important news items from the 2016 Detroit Auto Show was the repositioning of 2017 GMC Acadia crossover from full-size to mid-size.
The GMC Acadia was introduced for the 2007 model year becoming one of the largest crossover vehicles on the market. A big part of the Acadia’s appeal is that it was 9/10ths the size of a GMC Yukon yet easier to maneuver, handle, and more economical with fuel. Many people do not realize just how big the Acadia really is. Measuring in at 200.8 inches in length, the 2007 – 2016 GMC Acadia actually sits just 3 inches shorter than a Yukon. When the 2017 GMC Acadia debuted, it was announced that it dropped a lot of size and weight. How much? GMC aimed precisely at the center of the mid-size crossover market.
Next Up – Size Matters
The 2007 – 2016 GMC Acadia and its GM Lambda platform brothers do a pretty good job of hiding their overall size. Prior to gathering the data for this article, I would have speculated that the Acadia and competition in the likes of the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander were all roughly the same size. But as you can see on the chart below, the current Acadia has up to 9 inches over them in length. In terms of wheelbase, the current Acadia is also the longest of all of the front wheel drive crossovers. All of that size comes at a price however, and at 4,646 lbs the Acadia is 250 lbs heavier than the next heaviest FWD-based crossover, the Ford Explorer, and nearly 1,000 lbs heavier than the lightest 2-row on this list, the Kia Sorento. Even with all of that weight, the EPA rated fuel economy for a FWD Acadia is 19 city/ 24 highway, however my experiences have never matched that.
For 2017, GMC is changing the game plan to aim squarely at the mid-size segment leaders by dropping 7.2 inches in length to an overall 193.6. This puts the Acadia right up next to the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, two of the best-selling mid-size models on sale today. Wheelbase also drops to 112.5 inches, virtually matching Honda Pilot, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, and Dodge Journey.
Naturally, all of that size reduction results in a weight reduction as well. GMC shaved 700 lbs off of the Acadia, putting it among the lightest of the 2-row/3-row crossovers.
Next Up – It’s what’s on the inside that counts
One of the rabbits GM has been pulling from its hat lately has been vastly improved interior packaging in the newly redesigned platforms. Still, when dropping 7.2 inches in length, 3.5 inches in girth, and 700 lbs in weight, there is only so much engineers can do to maintain interior volume, so some interior dimensions have to be reduced a bit.
** Dodge lists the total cargo volume for the 5-passenger and 7-passenger versions the same, this seems unlikely.
This chart is sorted on the second column, cargo area behind the 2nd row seats with the 3rd row folded flat. It is my guess that this is the configuration most often used by the bulk of drivers. Cargo room in this configuration has dropped significantly. No longer in spitting distance of the Yukon XL, the 2017 Acadia falls behind the Explorer, Pilot, Highlander and Durango while being just slightly larger than the 2-row Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee. With both the second and third row folded, the 2017 Acadia remains mid-pack. With all seats up, the Acadia is nearly the smallest with just 12.8 cubic feet of cargo room.
Leg room is an area where all manufacturers seem to fudge a bit. Our friends over at TrueDelta.com have cited the fudged leg room numbers on a few Ford products and automatically deduct 2.5” from whatever the Ford published specs are. For this chart however, we are taking all of the manufacturers at their word.
Here, the spread between the top and bottom is fairly narrow and with second row seats that slide fore and aft, the difference can be reduced further. In absolute terms, the 2017 Acadia is nearly the smallest, however when I sat in the second row during the Detroit Auto Show, it felt plenty roomy, so I doubt anyone would notice the 3 inch drop from the current model. Some of that drop may have been given to the third row which actually sees about a 2 inch increase in legroom.
GM’s flip and slide system for the second row is still there, but only on the passenger side of the car. Getting into the 3rd row from the driver’s side looks fairly awkward.
Next up – I’ve got the power
For the first time, the GMC Acadia will come standard with a 4-cylinder engine. This move is clearly for fuel economy purposes, and as far as the naturally aspirated 4-cylinders in the class go, it is the most powerful. People coming from a 4-cylinder Toyota Highlander or Kia Sorento, won’t be missing any power. The updated V6 produces 310 horsepower, which makes it the most powerful non-Turbo V6 in the segment. With the new “added lightness”, the Acadia V6 should feel plenty powerful compared to the outgoing model.
I do feel that GMC may have a missed opportunity here for a mid-level engine. The 2.0T with about 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque would have made a good tweener engine, it would be unfortunate if the only reason that engine isn’t available is to give the new Buick Envision sitting in the same showroom something unique. Also, where are the 8-speed automatics? The 2017 Acadia comes only with a 6-speed auto.
Next Up – What is just right?
For a long time, one of the knocks against GM is that they have too many vehicles that are too similar. The GMC Acadia has always sold well, posting sales gains every year since 2009, so why would GM make this move? What GM hasn’t had for a while is a true mid-size entry into the segment, no Goldilocks crossover that wasn’t too big like the Acadia, or too small like the Terrain, and it is a well known secret that the next Terrain will be downsizing also. At 4 inches bigger than the Grand Cherokee, 6 inches smaller than Dodge Durango, and within an inch of the Honda Pilot, three of the segment's best sellers, the 2017 GMC Acadia aims for the heart of Goldilocks and it seems to be just right.