The cheapest available trim on the Acadia is the SL, which seems to exist primarily to get the base MSRP under $30,000. It doesn't permit any of the main packages or options, and is available only with the base four-cylinder engine.
We much prefer the 3.6-liter V6, which is available on all other models. Of the trims, the sweet spot is the mid-level SLE-2, which adds a few luxuries like heated seats and a power liftgate while keeping prices reasonable. The SLE-2 is also the first trim to get access to common safety features like park assist and blind-spot monitoring, which are becoming increasingly common as standard features. All-wheel drive is an option, but GMC usually forces bloated option packages in with the addition, so this is one case where we'd skip it. The Acadia isn't a great off-roader, anyway.
Even with the upgraded engine, our Acadia would slide in well under $40,000:
- Model: 2019 GMC Acadia SLE-2
- Engine: 3.5-liter V6
- Output: 310 hp / 271 lb-ft
- Transmission:Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
- Options: 3.6-liter V6 engine ($1,095), Driver Alert Package I ($790, lane change assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist), Metallic Exterior Color ($395)
- Base Price:$36,195 (including a $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$38,475
The Acadia is a quietly excellent driver, with plenty of grunt and pleasant handling. The independent suspension irons out bumps with aplomb despite the 18- or 20-inch rims, and the steering is responsive and nicely weighted. If all-wheel drive is added, the Acadia gains independent drive modes for off road or towing. The base four-cylinder engine is relatively frugal for an SUV this size, achieving an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon combined.
In the quest for efficiency, some grunt is lost, and the base engine feels down on power compared to competitors. The more powerful V6 is a capable performer, but more disappointing on fuel economy. It also boosts the Acadia close to the price range of more luxurious SUVs, which is dangerous territory.
The styling of the Acadia is a bright point, managing to be both smooth and pleasantly utilitarian. The squared-off wheel arches mean business, while a loop of chrome around the windows add a touch of flash. The chrome elements can be dialed up or down by trim level, from the rugged All-Terrain package to the glitzy Denali. The cabin is spacious despite the narrow footprint, and interior materials are quality, though the layout feels slightly dated. Most trims are available in either six- or seven-seat configurations, and the All-Terrain package ditches the third row entirely.
That third row is one of the few major weaknesses of the Acadia due to its cramped quarters. Children will be comfortable enough, but adults won't. With the third row in place, cargo space is a disappointing 12.8 cubic feet, although folding the back rows balloons capacity to a more reassuring 79 cubes. Despite the Acadia's strong crash-test ratings, the limited availability of safety technology will be off-putting for some buyers.
The Best and Worst Things
The GMC Acadia is pleasantly competent as a family SUV: comfortable, well-featured, and almost agile on the road. Besides a few pricy trims and options, it suffers mainly from a lack of truly noteworthy characteristics to separate it from the crowd.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Acadia is a solid pick for families who want solid performance and smooth around-town behavior. The third row is fine for the kids, while the comfortable cabin and appealing exterior will keep parents happy.
Buyers who demand top-notch efficiency or cargo capacity may be let down. The Acadia is a decent performer is most situations, but the more frugal engine feels a bit sluggish and cargo space is limited with all the seats filled.
The Bottom Line
The 2019 GMC Acadia may not redefine the industry, but it does an excellent job checking all the boxes. It's likable and versatile, exactly what a mid-size SUV should aim for. Competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander may have the edge in areas like safety technology, but the Acadia manages to pack features in at solid value. It deserves a spot on most buyers' list of contenders.