When most car shoppers think of luxury SUVs, brands like Infiniti, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz come to mind. And though GMC sells premium vehicles, its Acadia crossover hasn’t gained as much traction in the upscale-SUV market.
However, the new 2021 GMC Acadia might begin to change some minds. This three-row SUV ranked sixth on Consumer Reports‘ list of the top 30 luxury midsize sport utility vehicles. It even beat out bona fide luxury models from some of the most popular upscale brands.
Why the GMC Acadia’s surprising ranking is significant
Indeed, the 2021 GMC Acadia ranked higher than this year’s Infiniti QX60 (#7), Cadillac XT6 (#12), and Mercedes-Benz GLE (#19). These brands are synonymous with luxury, so to see the Acadia rank so highly is unexpected. It’s even shocking considering several previous model years, such as the 2020 Acadia, received criticism for their reliability and lack of high-end features compared with luxury SUVs.
Though the 2021 Acadia didn’t land in the top five, ranking as the sixth-best model out of 30 is nothing to sneeze at. And given prior model issues, what does the brand-new GMC Acadia have that garnered such impressive results?
The new GMC Acadia’s driving features
The 2021 GMC Acadia handles smoothly on the road in line with earlier models, enabling you to turn corners efficiently at high speeds and park soundly at low speeds. Its 310-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine — standard on higher-end models — allows it to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a lean 6.8 seconds. And its six-speed automatic transmission offers mostly seamless shifting.
At 19 mpg, the fuel economy is decent but not as good as some of its competitors. Still, nifty features like a switch to front-wheel drive, which allows you to gain 1 mpg during a constant highway cruise, help ensure the Acadia can get you where you need to go in style.
The Denali trim
You’ll find the GMC Acadia relatively affordable, with a base price starting at $30,000. But with trim, engine, and other features, the 2021 model can surpass $50,000. The most expensive is the Denali trim, which includes ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, driver-seat memory functions, power-folding heated mirrors, and a wireless charging pad.
The Denali trim also comes in two exclusive option packages. The first, the Technology package, includes adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic braking, a digital rearview mirror, and a surround-view camera system. The Ultimate package allows the Acadia to haul as much as 4,000 pounds. It also boasts a sunroof and adaptive suspension dampers.
Other upscale features
Though the Acadia is not built for off-roading, you can purchase the AT4 package. It includes all-terrain tires, all-wheel drive, and hill controls, among other features.
But if you’re merely looking to transport your family and friends in style, the Acadia’s SL and SLE models each come with keyless ignition and entry, wireless smartphone integration, automatic climate control, multiple USB ports, and a six-speaker sound system. Equipped with a standard 193-hp engine, the SL seats seven, while the SLE, with its larger rear seats, holds six.
For more horsepower and more features but with a lower price tag than the Denali, the SLT trim comes with a 230-hp engine, along with leather upholstery, heated front seats, roof rails, and remote ignition. Topping off the Acadia SLT is a navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with HD radio.
Though the GMC Acadia might not yet be top of mind for many upscale-SUV consumers, the 2021 model is superior to many other luxury crossovers. That makes the new Acadia a sound purchase if you’re in the market for this type of vehicle.