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GMC’s mid-range SUV is a competent, functional daily utility vehicle and little else

Good stuff

Roomy cabin, easy to use infotainment, satisfactory ride

Bad stuff

Its off-road trim can’t really off-road, its lux trim isn’t that lux, one single breathless power option

Overview

What is it?

Acadia is a loosely-defined northeastern region of North America discovered by Giovanni da Verrazzano, of New York bridge fame.

I meant the car.

Ah, of course. The vehicle in question is the GMC Acadia, the “medium” SUV in the lineup, between the Terrain and Yukon, with the Hummer EV being the XL offering in just about every fashion. Thus, the Acadia is the right-sized utility vehicle with three rows-full of improvements over its last iteration.

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For 2024, the SUV gains a larger wheelbase, upgraded technology and an interior makeover. There’s also extra room over the outgoing model for cargo and legs, so long as they are not cargo and still attached to passengers.

This is also the version that gains the use of GM’s Super Cruise hands-free drive assist. It’s available across all the trims and that’s something of a first here since GM usually keeps it as a premium-level option.

Is this a burly powerhouse of an SUV?

It is not any of those things except the last thing. There are three trim levels, all of which share the basic hardware. A 2.5-liter turbo inline four-cylinder sits under the hood, providing 328hp and 326lb ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels - or to all wheels - by way of an 8-speed gearbox.

The three trim levels are the base Elevation trim, the more upmarket Denali trim, and the AT4, which boosts the Acadia’s off-road capabilities. For this trim the Acadia sits an inch higher, has a wider track stance, and its all-wheel drive system is setup with active torque control provided by twin-clutch rear differentials. Its suspension is also further tuned for handling rough terrain, and is rounded out by a skid plate and off-road drive modes. You can spot this trim by its signature red functional tow hooks that you’ll inevitably need if you ever try to actually off-road in the Acadia.

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Not meant for that kind of stuff, is it?

Not particularly, no. It’s equipped to handle less than ideal road conditions and it isn’t terrible, but it’s not going to be the go-to vehicle for wilderness adventurers. This version of the Acadia is probably best for families that take weekend trips to camp grounds or ski lodges, and will be handy if the weather mucks up the way toward them.

Who’s the Acadia for, then?

GMC’s looking to attract a new generation of customer with the Acadia. In its vision, the SUV is the springboard for young adults launching a new phase in their lives, be it starting a new family or setting out on their own, possibly after completing school or some other life-affirming milestone.

As emotionally charged as that sounds, we’re inclined to believe the decision to grab an Acadia is one made with the head far more than the heart. If it ticks all the boxes and the price is right, sure, why not? In short, the Acadia doesn’t feel like a vehicle you aspire to get, you resign to getting one.

What other SUVs would you buy instead?

There’s a better alternative to the Acadia for just about every thing you’d want to do with an SUV. If you’re looking for better off-road capability than what the AT4 provides, then you can start looking at the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Those looking for more bang for their buck can check out the Toyota Highlander, a well-priced all-rounder with more powertrain options.

What's the verdict?

GMC’s mid-range SUV is a competent, functional daily utility vehicle and little else

The GMC Acadia is an SUV that’s surprisingly capable in many aspects, mainly because it’s so unassuming. It doesn’t make a particularly strong impression either in person or on paper, so when you actually give it a chance, you’ll be pleased to see that it’s better than average, if only just.

As a daily driver, the Acadia is roomy and well-equipped with a decent amount of standard features. The interior in the higher-tier Denali trim certainly benefits from the efforts made, though no one is going to mistake it for a luxury vehicle.

Same goes for the ride. In Denali or AT4, the Acadia is a suitable place to sit for long drives, and the fewer turns made the better. With this in mind, the addition of Super Cruise is a welcome one, though those looking to add the subscription-based drive feature should have a long think about how often they’d actually use it.

When it comes to driving off-road, the Acadia AT4 does the minimum, avoiding to get stuck on sand-caked roads and making its way through most mud ruts. Again, it’s nice to have the upgraded hardware just in case it encounters rough terrain, it’s just not the go-to choice for drivers actively pursuing off-road adventures.

All in all, the GMC Acadia is fine and largely inoffensive, save for the anemic four-cylinder engine and lack of enjoyable driving dynamics. Let’s put it this way: this SUV will not distract you from catching up on a backlog of podcasts over a long journey.

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