Only 1 Thing Keeps the 2021 GMC Acadia From Being an Award-Winning SUV

The 2021 GMC Acadia is a three-row SUV that gets a lot of things right. It’s lighter and smooth and can go from 0 to 60 in 6.8 seconds. Yet is the 2021 GMC Acadia safe? Unfortunately it lacks a lot of the safety features that Consumer Reports would like to see standard in new cars. The Acadia also has mostly good crash test ratings, but not in every area. The Acadia is lacking the headlights necessary to win a coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick Award. 

A white 2021 GMC Acadia in front of a brick house.

What is an IIHS Top Safety Pick Award?

To be awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, an SUV must score a good rating in all IIHS crash test ratings. These include the driver-side small overlap front, the passenger-side small overlap front, and the moderate overlap front. Additionally, the vehicle must get a good score in the side crash tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. To get a Top Safety Pick+ award, the vehicle must ace all these tests.

The SUV must also have an advanced or superior in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Headlights must have a good or acceptable rating available. Oftentimes one trim level has good headlight ratings while another trim level does not, so it’s important to check the test results of the trim level you’re considering purchasing. To receive the Top Safety Pick+ award, the headlights on all trim levels must be good or acceptable. 

The 2021 GMC Acadia is safe, but lacks good headlights

The 2021 GMC Acadia gets good ratings in all of the crashworthiness categories. These include the small overlap front: driver side ratings. The small overlap on the driver side test simulates how well a car does when the front left corner of the vehicle strikes something like another car or a tree or utility pole. This test is important in part because it measures how well the vehicle’s airbags and seatbelts do. All subcategories get a good rating within the small overlap front on the driver side as well. 

The moderate overlap test also gets good ratings, though the lower leg/foot subcategory within driver injury measures only gets a marginal rating. The moderate overlap test simulates how well a car traveling at 40 mph toward a two-foot tall honeycomb aluminum barrier. Forty percent of the width of the vehicle collides with the honeycomb barrier on the left side. This test measures what it would be like if two vehicles of the same weight collide at under 40 mph.  

Unfortunately, the headlights get a marginal rating on all trim levels. That means that there isn’t an Acadia that you can buy with good headlights. Unfortunately, this means that the 2021 GMC Acadia isn’t as safe as it could be. 

Side crash, roof strength, and head restraints and seats all get good ratings


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The side crash test ratings are good, including all subcategories. Roof strength is good and gets a good rating. It has a curb weight of 4,295 pounds and a strength-to-weight ratio of 4.75. This is better than the minimum required for a good rating, which is 4. The IIHS determines what the strength-to-weight ratio is by crushing the vehicle by five inches. The amount of force it takes to do that is the resulting score. This is important in the event of a rollover; you don’t want the roof to give in easily. The head restraints and seats also get a good rating.

If you’re looking for a three-row SUV with excellent crash test ratings but and plenty of space. Unfortunately its headlights mean that the 2021 GMC Acadia is not as safe as it could be. Perhaps you’d be better served looking for an SUV with better headlights.