With a carlike ride and lighter construction (which allows for downsized, more fuel-efficient engines), large crossovers have largely supplanted traditional sport-utility vehicles. It was only natural that GMC — then known for its pickups and truck-based SUVs — was swept up in the craze just over a decade ago. The 2018 Acadia is the newest version of GMC's first car-based utility vehicle.
This three-row crossover was fully redesigned last year, a transformation that made the 2017 Acadia smaller and lighter than the previous model. Handling and fuel economy were improved at the expense of passenger and cargo room, but you wouldn't notice the pinch unless you habitually filled the third row with little ones.
For those in the first and second row, the Acadia is spacious all around, and both back rows fold flat at the pull of a strap for maximum carrying capacity. The rest of the cabin is airy and inviting, though the overall design is more focused on function than form. That said, if you think competitors' interiors look a bit busy, you'll probably enjoy the Acadia's more toned-down approach.
Though a four-cylinder engine is available, we think it's outmatched by the sheer weight it's asked to move. Better to upgrade to the optional V6, especially if you plan on frequently ferrying friends and family.
Overall, we think the 2018 GMC Acadia is a solid choice for a comfortable three-row crossover SUV. But it might also be worth your time to look at a few other rival models, especially if expansive third-row seat space and lots of cargo room are priorities for you.
The 2018 GMC Acadia is offered in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. The SL model seems like a great deal, until you realize that it's a custom-order model and you'll have to wait for it to be built. There are two levels of the midgrade SLE trim: The SLE-1 is only a minor upgrade over the SL (but you'll actually find it at a dealership), while the SLE-2 adds a more substantial level of upgrades. A well-equipped SLT trim is the next step up, and it, too, is split between SLT-1 and SLT-2 levels. The Denali trim rounds out the lineup with several exclusive high-end features.
Depending on trim, the midsize Acadia is offered in a two-row, five-passenger configuration or a three-row configuration with seating for six (with second-row captain's chairs) or seven (with a second-row bench). A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (193 horsepower, 188 pound-feet of torque) is standard on SL, SLE and SLT-1 models. A 3.6-liter V6 (310 hp, 271 lb-ft) is standard on SLT-2 and Denali models and optional on SLE-1 (with all-wheel drive), SLE-2 and SLT-1 trims. Both engines are paired to a six-speed automatic.
Technically, GMC sells an Acadia in the SL trim, with a seven-passenger seating configuration and front-wheel drive. White and silver exterior paint are really the only options on this trim. Its features include17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, GMC's Teen Driver system, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration, a rearview camera, OnStar (with 4G LTE and a Wi-Fi hotspot), and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port and auxiliary input.
It's a built-to-order trim, however, so you're most likely going to see the next level SLE-1 on dealer lots. The SLE-1 trim adds only LED running lights and satellite radio, while the SLE-2 steps it up with 18-inch wheels, foglights, a power liftgate with programmable height stops, roof rails, remote engine start, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and heated front seats. The SLE-2 and above trims come standard with middle-row captain's chairs that reduce passenger capacity to six, but the second-row bench is available.
The SLE-2's available Driver Alert I package adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
Opting for the SLT-1 trim adds the Driver Alert I package, an auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirror, an upgraded driver information display, a household-style power outlet, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with a subwoofer.
The SLT-2 trim adds 20-inch wheels, the V6 engine, a trailering package, driver-seat memory functions and heated outboard middle-row seats. Also included is the Driver Alert II package that has all of the supporting Driver Alert I features plus lane departure warning and mitigation, forward collision warning (with pedestrian detection and automatic braking at low speeds), automatic high beams, front parking sensors, and a safety-alert driver seat that buzzes when alerts are triggered.
An 8-inch touchscreen is available on SLE-2, SLT-1 and SLT-2 models. It is paired with the Bose audio system and upgraded driver info display on the SLE-2, and it can be equipped with navigation on the SLT trims.
The top-of-the-line Denali rounds out the lineup with polished wheels, xenon headlights, a unique grille, a hands-free liftgate, the 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, a configurable virtual gauge display, ventilated front seats, and a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel. The Denali is also eligible for the optional Technology package that adds a 360-degree parking camera and adaptive cruise control.
You can get all-wheel drive on all Acadias except the base SL. A two-panel sunroof is available on SLE-2 trims and above. An All Terrain package is also available on SLE-2 and SLT-1 trims and adds the V6 engine, distinct exterior treatments, hill descent control, a more advanced all-wheel-drive system and a cargo management system (SLT-1 only). If five-passenger seating is specified, tri-zone climate control is replaced by dual-zone control with rear air vents. Finally, a special suspension with adaptive dampers is optional for AWD SLT-2 and Denali trims.