All-new GMC Acadia expected at Detroit auto show

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is likely to show a new, slightly smaller 2017 GMC Acadia midsize SUV during the brand’s news conference Tuesday at the Detroit auto show, according to analysts.

The Acadia, with seating for up to eight, is an old vehicle in the GMC portfolio, but has been a strong seller. It was introduced in late 2006 as a 2007 model and was refreshed for the 2013 model year. An upscale Denali version was added as a 2011 model.

“If you’re one of the older cars on the block… you tend to get left in the dust,” said Akshay Anand, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “You do need fresh product.”

An update is needed for the Acadia, which competes in a segment with a new Honda Pilot, the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander.

“It’s quite old,” said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst for IHS Automotive. “The segment here, technology is moving forward. It’s time to update it.”

Still, sales of the Acadia in the U.S. last year reached a high for the vehicle at 96,393, up 14.8 percent from 2014 totals.

GMC has a Tuesday premiere at the North American International Auto Show. Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president for the GMC brand in a recent interview with The Detroit News, would not reveal what the brand will show in Detroit.

“We publicly said we’re very ambitious around GMC, and our Detroit auto show also sets that direction,” he said.

Spy shots of the large three-row SUV have been shown for months. Analysts such as Brinley and Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive say they expect production of a new Acadia to shift in the spring or summer this year from GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant to GM’s Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee.

The Spring Hill plant is the new home to the 2017 Cadillac XT5 (replacement for the SRX), slated to begin production early this year. A second vehicle has long been promised for the plant, but GM has yet to announce it. Spring Hill is adding hundreds of jobs.

The Acadia is expected to use a version of the same platform that the XT5 will be built on called CHI, Brinley said.

GM this week also announced a third shift will be added in the second quarter this year at its Lansing Grand River Plant, adding more than 500 hourly and salaried jobs. The move could have been done in part to absorb some workers from Lansing Delta Township. The Delta Township plant currently also builds the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs.

Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific Inc., said he expects to see a smaller Acadia that is lighter than the previous generation and one that also gets improved fuel economy. Analysts expect the vehicle will keep its third row functionality and that the size reduction could be more focused for weight reduction.

LMC Automotive predicts the new Acadia could see sales totaling about 110,000 this year or in 2017, representing an about 10 percent gain.

“We would definitely expect to see them get a bump up,” said Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive.

The 2016 Acadia starts at $31,900. Fuel economy is rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg highway for a front-wheel drive model.

U.S. sales for the GMC brand, which sells only trucks, SUVs and vans, rose 11.3 percent last year to 558,697, about double the industry’s growth rate. The brand wants to grow from about 3 percent of U.S. industry sales to retail customers today to 5 percent in a decade.

(313) 222-2319