2017 GMC Acadia: Here’s Who Should and Shouldn’t Buy One

2017 GMC Acadia
2017 GMC Acadia | Justin Lloyd-Miller/Autos Cheat Sheet

Earlier this week, we were afforded the opportunity to take GMC‘s all-new Acadia in three flavors (SLT, All Terrain, Denali) out on a short tour around Washington D.C. Generally impressed by what we found, the Acadia — like the current and past models — has been focus-group-engineered to appeal to as broad a range of people as possible. While it will likely meet or exceed the needs of the vast bulk of its buyers, there are people in the wings who might want to look elsewhere.

Here’s who should buy the new GMC Acadia:

Do you live in a quiet, well-manicured suburb with a decent local Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble? The Acadia Denali is right up your tree-lined alley. Comfortable, quiet, and well-mannered, the Denali’s understated stateliness is an ideal fit for well-heeled suburban parents. It’s car-like handling and mannerisms and comparatively small stature make the Acadia more at home around neighborhoods than camping trips through your local national park, and it helps ease driving tensions in busy traffic.

If the sum of your off-roading experiences equates to the occasional tour through a pasture or up a steep gravel driveway, the All Terrain is a venerable choice. If you’ll be using your Acadia to move bikes and other large pieces of equipment, the All Terrain’s cargo rails in the trunk make it a logical choice.

GMC Acadia Denali and SLT
GMC Acadia Denali and SLT | Justin Lloyd-Miller/Autos Cheat Sheet

The SLT is the most affordable three-row SUV in GMC’s stable, undercutting even the Chevy Traverse at just over $29K. Paired with the four-cylinder, it makes for one of the more economical choices in the segment if towing, intensive highway driving, or lap times are among your highest priorities.

Finally, people looking for a solid, well-performing SUV that doesn’t come with hectares of space for the soccer team and NASA’s entire shuttle program staff will likely enjoy what they find in the GMC Acadia. It’s a strong contender in a huge market, but if those latter two factors apply to you, then you’ll want to look into a Yukon instead.

Here’s who shouldn’t:

2017 GMC Acadia Denali interior
2017 GMC Acadia Denali interior | Justin Lloyd-Miller/Autos Cheat Sheet

If you are a regular weekend warrior and off-roading is up there with breathing, eating, and general hygiene, you might want to look for something more rugged and capable than the Acadia All Terrain. Though admirable through some rough stuff, the Acadia is inherently hamstrung by its car-like demeanor and lower ride height — even when off-road settings are in play.

If you do regularly commute with a soccer team and NASA’s shuttle program staff, even the seven-seat configuration will be a tough sell. The Acadia’s large, but not that large. Check out a truck-based ute instead. Load a four-cylinder model up with seven people and a few bags, and it’ll be struggling to get up to speed (but the V6 should do fine).

Tow regularly? Check out a V6, AWD-equipped model, but don’t be surprised if you end up looking for something that’s a bit more rugged depending on the payload. The V6 is good for 4,000 pounds at the hitch — which is great, unless you’re towing a big yacht, gravel, or — say — a space shuttle. If you’re regularly towing weighty items, you might want to look at a vehicle with some V8 credentials lest engine longevity be called into question. A Yukon, perhaps?

Lastly, it’s not the most efficient vehicle on Earth. If you desperately need three rows with maximum MPGs, the Mazda CX-9 and its 250-horsepower turbo-four is slated to outperform the most efficient Acadia. Few people give much thought to mileage when shopping for SUVs, but don’t expect economy in the mid-30s and tow capacity and room for seven.

What GMC should do is drop in the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel in from the Canyon pickup. Bring up torque, tow potential, and MPGs all in one swing, and Acadia will vault to the front in nearly every category.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.