New, smaller GMC Acadia debuts at Detroit auto show

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s GMC brand took the silk off its 2017 GMC Acadia Tuesday at the Detroit auto show, showing a smaller and 700-pound lighter midsize SUV that is more right-sized between its smaller Terrain and larger Yukon.

The redesigned Acadia, available this spring, features more available safety technologies, new and more fuel-efficient engines, a new sporty All Terrain model geared for off-road fun and the return of the popular Acadia Denali.

“The all-new Acadia leverages GMC’s proven SUV experience to take on and shake up one of the largest vehicle segments, with a strong blend of design, technology and capability,” Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president for the GMC brand, said in a statement.

GMC introduced the Acadia in Detroit nearly a decade ago, in late 2006 as a 2007 model; it was refreshed for the 2013 model year. The Denali version was added as a 2011 model. Despite its age, the Acadia posted its best U.S. sales year last year at 96,393, up 14.8 percent from 2014.

For 2017, the Acadia’s has been downsized, as the crossover sheds more than 7 inches in length, 3.5 inches in width, nearly 4 inches in height and the wheelbase is more than 6 inches shorter. GM and GMC say the new, lighter platform improve driving response and make it easier to turn and park.

And depending on the model, seating is available for five to seven passengers. The current model can seat up to eight.

GMC describes the Acadia’s new looks as an evolution of its design that includes new grilles and wraparound headlamps and standard LED lighting and C-shape rear lighting. Inside, Acadia trims feature different color and trim combinations and aluminum trim.

“It’s a confident design influenced by extensive customer input,” Helen Emsley, executive director of global GMC design and GM user experience, said in a statement. “The original Acadia was very truck-inspired, but the new model has a decidedly SUV influence conveyed in sculptural details, softened corners and a sleeker windshield angle.”

Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, shows off the GMC Acadia  at Cobo this morning.

Under the hood, a new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec engine is standard and GM estimates it will get 28 miles per gallon on the highway for front-wheel drive models and 22 mpg in the city, aided by GM’s first use of stop/start technology.

A new 3.6-liter V-6 engine is available and will deliver a GM estimated 310 horsepower and 25 mpg on the highway. The automaker said official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates are not yet available. All-wheel drive also is available for both engines, but GMC does not have fuel economy ratings yet.

The current generation Acadia, powered by a 3.6-liter V-6, is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway for a front-wheel drive model.

Inside, the Acadia also has improved functionality including a split-folding second-row seat and engineers have made it easier to access the third row and to fold second- and third-row seats.

The 2017 Acadia features a new standard rear seat alert to notify a driver when something has been left in the second- and third-row seats. The alert includes audible chimes along with a message in the driver information center.

Journalists get a closer look at the new GMC Acadia.

Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, said the rear seat reminder is a glimpse of what GM has coming in its commitment to safety.

It also offers a tow vision trailering system that uses a rear backup camera to help drivers lineup a hitch to a trailer and offers views of the trailer while driving, Reuss said.

The new All Terrain model, which Reuss said is aimed “to fit a more adventurous lifestyle,” features an all-wheel drive system with active twin clutch, which aims to optimize traction for road conditions. The model also gets a different look from the rest of the lineup, with a body-color grille surround, unique wheels and black chrome trim. Inside, the All Terrain has seating for five passengers and includes covered storage bins in the floor of the rear cargo area.

GM also confirmed it will shift production of the Acadia from its Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant to its Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters after touring the auto show Tuesday that the move is part of GM’s normal progress.

“What I would hope is, they’ve had great success in Lansing. Again, they have to make their own proprietary decisions, but I hope they see the great workforce that’s been successful for so many years,” Snyder said. “They’re showing a big commitment with the Camaro (built at the Lansing Grand River plant), so I still hope there’s a bright future in Lansing for General Motors.”

Last week, GM announced it will add a third shift in the second quarter at its Grand River Plant. The move may be in part to absorb some workers from the Lansing Delta Township plant.

The Acadia, which competes in a segment with a new Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Jeep Grand Cherokee, starts at $31,900 for the 2016 model. No pricing has been announced for the 2017 model.

“The new Acadia takes advantage of modern engineering and the trend toward lighter weight combined with better fuel economy. These improvements will help it remain competitive in a crowded segment full loaded with excellent offerings,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement. “The GMC brand has already benefited from the market shift toward SUVs and trucks, making this the perfect time for a redesigned Acadia.”

LMC Automotive predicts the new Acadia could see sales increase by about 10 percent to about 110,000 this year or in 2017.

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Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.