“Bigger is always better.” This is an ideology many Americans believe is very true and justifiable. This ideology is quiet prevalent in the automotive industry – I mean, when the automaker’s board members green light a new car as a replacement for an existing model, the engineers and designers immediately start talking about how their new model is bigger than the one it replaces.
However, there are some automakers like GMC who believe that “bigger is not always better.”
When General Motors started the development of the new GMC Acadia, they decided to shrink the three-row crossover instead of super-sizing it. The result of the reduction in size is that the 2017 GMC Acadia is up to 700 pounds lighter than the 2016 model. The dramatic reduction in weight is achieved by expanded usage of press-hardened, high-strength steel, which enabled the engineers to use thinner components in some areas without compromising the crossover’s strength.
Compared to the old Acadia, the new Acadia’s wheelbase has been shrunk by 6.4 inches, the overall length has been cut by 7.2 and the width has been narrowed by 3.5 inches. As a result, the interior dimensions have also been reduced when compared to its predecessor. Interestingly, however, the second-row legroom and headroom remain unchanged in models not equipped with a sunroof. Maximum cargo space with the second and third-row seats folded goes down from 116 cubic feet to just 79 cubic feet.
The interior of the new GMC Acadia was designed with family hauling in mind and it features USB charging ports in all three rows of seats. A split-folding second-row with easy-entry mode makes getting in and out of the third-row a breeze. Additionally, the passenger-side second-row seat can tilt forward and slide even with a child seat installed. The third-row seats can be easily folded flat with release handles in the rear of the cargo bay. GMC interior designers have also fitted additional storage bins in the aft section of the center console, the side that faces the rear seats.
Less weight means less powerful engine. The base engine in the 2017 GMC Acadia is a naturally aspirated 2.5 L four-cylinder engine with 194 horsepower. However, for the heavy right footers, there is good news because the optional engine is a redesigned 3.6 L V6 with an estimated 310 horsepower.
EPA has not released any official fuel efficiency ratings for the 2017 GMC Acadia as of this writing.
However, General Motors claims that Acadia models equipped with front-wheel-drive and four-cylinder engines, with standard stop/stop will achieve 22 mpg in city and 28 mpg on highway. Acadia models equipped with the 3.6 L V6 engine with Active Fuel Management and front-wheel-drive will achieve an estimated 17 mpg in city and 25 mpg on highway.
Both engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to the front-wheels as standard or to all four-wheels with an optional AWD system.
The 2017 GMC Acadia‘s AWD system has been improved and is now handled by an “Active Twin Clutch” system. In AWD models, the dual clutches handle the distribution of the engine’s torque across the rear axle. A new drive-mode selector enables front-wheel-drive operation via all-wheel-drive by decoupling the rear axle to save fuel while cruising on the highway. The drive-mode selector also features 4×4 (all-wheel-drive), sport, off road, and trailer/tow modes. Drive-mode selector in front-wheel-drive models include normal, sport, snow, and trailer/tow modes.
Depending on the trim level (SLT, Denali, and new All Terrain), the 2017 GMC Acadia features a host of active and passive safety features. Low-speed emergency-braking capability is standard on SLT-2 and Denali trims. All-speed emergency braking is standard on Denali models. New safety features include pedestrian detection, a following-distance indicator, automatic high beam assist, 360 degree parking camera, and a “rear seat alert” that warns the driver if they left something in the second or third-row seats. Carryover safety features from the previous Acadia include blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision alert.
The smaller and lighter weight 2017 GMC Acadia will go on sale this spring. How will American crossover shoppers react to the smaller and lighter GMC Acadia? Only time will tell because the current generation Acadia had been the most popular crossover in the company’s lineup. But as more crossover owners demand more car-like handling from their high-seat, three-row crossovers, there is no doubt that the new Acadia will perform better than its predecessor.
The 2017 GMC Acadia was unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
*Rahul Raman is the Founder of CARS 360 Mke, an automotive news outlet. He is a regular contributor to Automoblog.net and the author of our First Look series.