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New Cars Review: 2017 GMC Acadia goes on a diet, now shorter, lighter and less expensive

GMC’s brand new Acadia just got the opposite of supersized - it’s now 18.2 centimetes shorter, some 318 kilograms lighter, and priced $2,000 lower than the 2016 model.

Why the diet? GM said a shorter, slimmer, lighter Acadia is more maneuverable on the road, fits better into garages and gets better fuel economy.

“It was a large mid-sized SUV, now it’s a mid mid-sized SUV,” said Ryan O’Neill, GMC assistant brand manager.

Photos by Jason Tchir

Part of the weight loss is attributable to use of more high-strength steel in nconstruction, and lighter sound-deadening materials.

While the 2016 V-6 got a reported 13.6 litres/100 km combined, the new V-6 all-wheel drive model gets 11.6, GMC says.

The base Acadia, with a 2.5 litre four-cylinder engine and stop/start function, gets a combined 10.4 litre/100 km with AWD.

Still, GM expects most Canadian buyers to choose the V-6 which generates 310 horsepower versus 193 in the four-cylinder.

It now seats up to seven, one less than before. The third row seats two, and it’s tight for adults if the second row isn’t moved forward. The second row seats do slide forward easily to let adults climb into the back – even with a carseat.

The diet cut space behind the front row from 3,284 litres (116 cubic feet) to 2237 (79). With the third row up, there’s now 362 litres (12.8 cubic feet) of space, down from 682 (24.1).

We squeezed a backpack, a briefcase and a carry-on bag into the back cargo space. A regular-sized suitcase wouldn’t sit flat; it would have to be propped up, on its side.

There are five trim packages: SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and Denali. There’s also a new $49,390 AWD All-Terrain that drops the third row entirely.

You’ll like this car if … the prior-model Acadia seemed too darned big.

TECH SPECS

Base price: $34,995; as tested, $61,145

Engines: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 3.6-litre V-6

Transmission/drive: Six-speed/front or all-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.3 city, 9.5 highway (V-6 AWD)

Alternatives: Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer

RATINGS

Looks: The company describes the style as “bold, capable and precisely crafted”. It is an improvement, inside and out. No one will mistake it for anything but a GM, but it’s got now more style - and, on the top-of-the-line Denali, more sexy chrome than the smaller Terrain and bigger Yukon.

Interior: The dash layout is simple and everything is where it should be. The radio and climate controls make sense - knobs and buttons do all the basic stuff, and the touchscreen is easy to use. The artificial wood trim in the Denali doesn’t look quite as fake as some competitors’. The loaded Denali ($54,695 before options) adds a new front grille, cooled seats, a hands-free lift gate, heated power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and navigation.

Performance: The Acadia did just fine on the curvy Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver. It doesn’t drive like a car, like some of the competitors, but for a relatively large SUV, it sticks to the roadm and the ride is neither too soft nor too rugged. A continuous dampening system uses sensors to continuously correct the distance betwen the axle and the body.

Technology: CarPlay and Android Auto. On all models, you get Wi-Fi by subscribing to OnStar 4G LTE. There’s no rear-seat entertainment system, but with Wi-Fi, everybody can have a tablet. Six USB ports. There’s a warning to check the back seat when the driver shuts off the ignition, in case you’ve forgotten the child (or pet).

Cargo: Tighter than before wth the third row up. GM says suitcases can fit back there - but it won’t fit big ones. Second and third-row seats fold down quickly - with them down there’s room for golf clubs and more.

THE VERDICT

8

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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