2020 was a challenging year for new car sales. Consumers flooded the used car market, leaving many new models on lots. And some consumers have scrutinized new models more than they otherwise would have. For GMC fans looking at a brand-new SUV, it’s worth noting the 2021 Acadia is the automaker’s only SUV that Consumer Reports recommends. What exactly sets it apart?
The 2021 GMC Acadia at a glance
The 2021 GMC Acadia is a solid midsize SUV with an attractive exterior. The standard model comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 193 hp, though you can upgrade to a 3.6-liter V6 for 310 hp. The former can tow only 1,000 pounds and gets 21/27 city/highway mpg, while the latter can haul up to two tons and gets 19/27 city/highway mpg. Either way, you’ll also get a nine-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive (unless you pay extra for an all-wheel-drive upgrade).
Despite its relatively small stature, the Acadia offers generous headroom and legroom, along with a decent amount of cargo space. It holds only 12.8 cubic feet behind the third row, but you can fold it down for 41.7 cubic feet. If you drop the second row, too, you’ll get 79 cubic feet.
There’s also intuitive technology easily within reach, including a sharp-looking gauge cluster, multiple USB ports, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a responsive 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system on the base model. It also includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. However, you can add the GMC Pro Safety Plus suite with other advanced features such as automatic high-beams and lane-keeping assistance.
The Acadia’s design and safety features have helped it earn a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Consumer Reports recommends the 2021 GMC Acadia
Of the 2021 SUV models GMC sells, including the full-sized Yukon XL and compact Terrain, Consumer Reports recommends only the Acadia. Though the publication notes that the Acadia’s fuel economy is subpar and that its top-level trims lack some standard luxury features, CR gives it high marks for comfort, technology, and responsive handling. The Acadia ranks sixth on Consumer Reports’ list of 29 vehicles in the segment, outperforming models from well-known luxury brands such as Infiniti and Cadillac.
The Yukon XL, a large truck-based SUV, doesn’t fare as well as the smaller crossover. CR’s reviewers praise the Yukon’s power and technology but knock its cumbersome handling. The Yukon also gets poor marks for forward visibility, fuel economy, and a difficult-to-use gear selector. Though it ranks fourth on Consumer Reports‘ list of eight large SUVs, CR’s experts don’t recommend it.
The GMC Terrain gets even worse reviews. Ranking ninth of 23, the compact crossover garners positive feedback for its technology but criticism for almost everything else. Consumer Reports notes its noisiness, poor visibility, unresponsive handling, underpowered engine, and awkward gear selector. So it’s no surprise this small SUV would fail to earn a recommendation.
Who should purchase a 2021 Acadia?
Of course, though a well-respected publication like Consumer Reports may hold weight with some car buyers, reviews aren’t the only consideration. Some buyers might fall in love with their Yukon or Terrain and find that CR’s criticism doesn’t hold much weight. For the most part, car buying ends up being about whether the vehicle is a good fit for the prospective buyer. So who might be a good fit for a 2021 Acadia?
With a $29,800 starting price, the GMC Acadia requires a decent-sized budget, especially if they’re looking for more than the base model. And if you plan to do some light off-roading, check out the excellent All-Terrain package. It comes with an upgraded AWD system, unique body treatments, hill-descent control, and an upgraded V6 engine.
The 2021 GMC Acadia is also family-friendly and safe, so it may be a good pick for families with kids. The technology features will help keep passengers — young, old, or in between — connected and entertained during long trips, letting drivers concentrate on the road. And premium trims include nice touches like a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, and a 360-degree camera system. With all of those features, the GMC Acadia makes a strong case on its own. And a Consumer Reports recommendation is just the icing on the cake.