Expert Reviews

2024 GMC Acadia First Drive Review

After a generation spent as a smaller midsize crossover, the redesigned 2024 GMC Acadia has moved back to the big end of the segment.

Sharing underpinnings with the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, GMC markets the Acadia as a more premium option that’s slightly short of a true luxury vehicle. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine has replaced the old V6, while the lineup has been simplified this time around.

Three Different Flavours

The 2024 Acadia comes in three trim levels: Elevation, AT4, and Denali. The entry-level Elevation starts at $54,499 before freight and tax and includes 20-inch alloy wheels, an 11-inch digital instrument display, and a 15-inch portrait-orientation infotainment screen.

The AT4 raises the Acadia to a new level – literally – with 25 mm (1.0 in) of extra ground clearance, front tow hooks, skid plates, nifty wheel arch-mounted marker lights, and all-terrain tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels. Finally, the Denali is the cream of the crop in the lineup and rides 22-inch wheels, while the front seats are heated and ventilated, there’s a head-up display, and the interior boasts natural leather and wood trimmings.

Under The Hood

All Acadia trims use a new turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Output is 328 hp and 326 lb-ft of torque – improvements of 18 and 55, respectively, over the V6 of old. Peaks are reached at lower engine speeds, too.

In the real world, this translates to increased performance when accelerating from a stop. The 2.5L engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is one less gear than last time around. However, the additional low-end torque negates the need for more gears.

On The Road

Driving the Acadia AT4 and Denali trims, the newfound torque made short work of merging and passing, although a good amount of refinement has been lost by moving from a V6 to an inline four-cylinder. While GMC has isolated vibration well, the engine's buzzy note is apparent in the cabin at engine speeds above about 3,000 rpm.

The transmission isn't the quickest to shift, and it tends to be sluggish getting off the line. With a combined fuel consumption rating of 11.3 L/100 km, the 2024 Acadia is actually slightly worse on gas than its predecessor (11.0). Interestingly, emissions ratings are identical to the old engine, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

The Acadia Denali's ride quality is at its best on the highway thanks to its own unique suspension tuning. Expansion joints and road imperfections were absorbed well during this test; however, the low-speed ride was a bit busier, likely a result of the heavy 22-inch wheels it rides on.

By comparison, the AT4 offers a slightly firmer ride on pavement but remains fairly comfortable overall. The all-terrain tires trade noise isolation for off-road prowess and are noticeably louder at speed compared to the very quiet Denali. The AT4 gets a manually selectable all-wheel drive (AWD) system, meaning drivers must press a button to move between front- drive and all-wheel modes. With AWD enabled, there’s a twin-clutch setup in the rear differential that can send varying amounts of torque to each rear wheel to get out of sticky situations.

Interior

With the choice of seven- or eight-passenger seating, depending on configuration, the new Acadia is significantly more spacious than its predecessor. GMC claims there’s 23 per cent more cargo capacity behind the first row, while the once-cramped area with the third row upright  has increased by 80 per cent. By the numbers, there's 2,761 L behind the first row, 1,623 L behind the second, and 651 L behind the third.

The third row can now more comfortably accommodate adults, and the rearward location of the C-pillar means people back there can actually see out the windows. The Denali gets power-folding second- and third rows, and the second-row captain's chair can tilt upward to allow access to the back even when a forward-facing child seat is installed.

Safety and Technology

Across all trim levels, standard advanced driver-assist systems include forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Super Cruise hands-free technology is available across the lineup.

The 15-inch infotainment screen uses Google as its backbone, offering wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. A series of hard buttons at the bottom control primary climate functions, with the rest falling onto the touchscreen. Interestingly, the Acadia's headlight functions are embedded into the touchscreen menus, which deviates from the signal stalk or dashboard-mounted setup we're all used to.

Versus the Competition

The newfound dimensions mean the 2024 Acadia leads its class in front-row legroom and enjoys a general interior volume advantage over the similarly priced Toyota Grand Highlander, as well as the Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-90. Because the Acadia prioritizes cargo space, the Grand Highlander has a bit more third-row legroom, but that's about it.

Final Thoughts

Having returned to the larger size it enjoyed in the past, the 2024 GMC Acadia is a family-friendly vehicle that does near-premium well. Its cargo and passenger space advantages make it competitive, and it is only a few suspension calibration and engine noise tweaks away from being right up at the front of the pack.

 

 

 

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