Stylish and sleek. Plenty of safety features. Ideal for families on the go.
All-Wheel Drive Capability
Limited Cargo Space
Lacks Heated Steering Wheel
GMC came out with its smaller Acadia two years ago and it makes perfect sense. There is a market for a midsize SUV that will appeal to families who need a third row, but only need it occasionally. The 2019 GMC Acadia is offered with two engines: a more fuel-efficient four-cylinder, and a six-cylinder for those wanting a little extra power. GMC seems to have found the right balance when it comes to this new generation of the Acadia. And we recently jumped behind the wheel to see just how this new Acadia is holding up.
This weekend, we’ve been driving the 2019 GMC Acadia AWD SLT with V6 power!
What’s New For 2019
There are no major changes for this year, but a new Black Edition appearance package is now available for the SLT trim. It includes 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with black accents, plus a host of other blacked-out exterior treatments like the grille insert, mirror caps, and roof rials. Trim levels for the 2019 GMC Acadia include SLE, SLT, and the more luxurious Denali. Our test vehicle was an “SLT-1” trim with all-wheel drive.
The 2019 GMC Acadia AWD SLT V6 ($41,100) comes standard with heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a rearview camera. The seven-inch touchscreen allows for Bluetooth paining, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. OnStar, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and a six-speaker audio system with a USB and auxiliary input are also included.
Our SLT-1 tester came with LED running lights, foglights, and a power liftgate with programmable height stops. On the inside, we had satellite radio, an upgraded driver information display, a household-style power outlet, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and heated front seats. Working towards the back, there are middle row captain’s chairs and rear floor mats. The remote start and the upgraded, eight-speaker Bose audio system with a subwoofer were among our favorite features.
Our tester included the aforementioned Back Edition package ($1,495) and a panoramic sunroof ($1,400). Total MSRP including destination: $45,970. By comparison, the 2019 GMC Acadia starts at $32,800.
Features & Options: Safety & Security
Our tester came with GMC’s Teen Driver system, a benefit for families who have a young adult learning how to drive. Once activated, the Teen Driver key fob limits certain features and prevents certain safety systems from being switched off. Parents can also see an “in-vehicle report card” that provides insight into the distance driven, maximum speed, number of over speed warnings, and other driving events. This is a feature we think families will find value in as they help their teens become safer drivers.
Interior Highlights: Nice But Missing Something
Check out the Acadia SLT-1 if you need three-row seating for occasional use. This model offers six-passenger seating with captain’s chairs in the middle. In the far back, there isn’t much room except for small kids or the occasional short trip for adults, but the middle row offers enough room. Up front, it’s comfortable and the heated seats help, but we were a little miffed it didn’t come with a heated steering wheel for this price point. Otherwise, the cabin feels somewhat upscale with leather and lots of soft-touch surfaces. GMC uses quality materials for the Acadia and the fit and finish is acceptable.
We liked the minimal number of knobs and buttons, making it easy to figure the radio and climate control out. However, the console is very high and it limits elbows room. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, but we found ourselves constantly bumping into it this weekend. Our guests commented on it too as we drove to a late lunch. Outward visibility is good and the backup camera and parking sensors kept us out of trouble.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 193 horsepower and 188 lb-ft. of torque is standard on SL, SLE, and SLT-1 trim levels. It’s mated to a six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission with a 3.16 final drive ratio. Those wanting a more fuel-efficient Acadia should opt for this engine. EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 21/26 city/highway and 23 combined with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available with the four-cylinder and impacts fuel economy only slightly (21/25 city/highway and 22 combined).
Our SLT-1 tester had the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine, producing 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft. of torque. It comes paired to a six-speed Hydra-Matic transmission as well, but with a 3.87 final drive ratio, which sent power to all four wheels in our case. Those who have a small trailer will want this engine. When properly equipped, the 2019 GMC Acadia tows 4,000 lbs. The 2.5-liter only hauls 1,000 lbs. by comparison.
EPA fuel mileage estimates on the thirstier V6 come in at 17/25 city/highway and 20 combined with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models with the V6 have a rating of 18/25 city/highway and 21 combined.
Driving Dynamics: Sporty But Secure
Getting behind the wheel brings an almost car-like feeling, more so than an SUV. The 2019 GMC Acadia will leave you feeling confident and secure as you navigate down busy streets and highways. The Acadia borders on sporty in terms of its looks, but the ride quality is more toward comfort. The imperfections in the road are soaked up and sent away before they get to you, courtesy of the front MacPherson strut and five-link independent rear suspension.
Driving Dynamics: Easy To Maneuver
The optional V6 plant is a good choice if you are carrying more people and cargo during the week or on weekends. The 2019 GMC Acadia handles well on busy highways, and we pushed it hard up I-70 in the mountains at altitude west of Denver. After the 2017 redesign, the Acadia dropped nearly 700 lbs. and the handling benefits as a result. As the V6 responded, we could easily maneuver the Acadia and take away the open spots between cars.
All-wheel drive is a must for those living in cold climates, and we are confident in the Acadia’s ability to push through snow. Our tester came with a mode-select knob on the console that engages sport, towing, or off-road modes. Switching between two-and four-wheel drive can help save fuel on good-weather days. However, we had a late spring snow storm here in Colorado. We were glad to have an all-wheel drive Acadia when dealing with the snow.
Conclusion: Opt For All-Wheel Drive
The 2019 GMC Acadia is a solid, capable midsize SUV for families that need three-row seating occasionally. The optional V6 packs a punch and, given the negligible differences in fuel economy, we would option our Acadia with all-wheel drive. On the inside, things are comfortable enough that you won’t feel tired on your commute after a long day at work.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy