2024 GMC Acadia Returns to Its Roots

2024 gmc acadia
2024 GMC Acadia Returns to Its RootsGMC

"New" General Motors is starting to operate a little like its old pre-bankruptcy self of about 15 years ago. Just look at GMC, a brand that currently sells a battery-electric truck and SUV under the Hummer subbrand, one of four money-draining marques GM sold off or pulled the plug on at the start of the 2010s. The rest of the GMC lineup is effectively the poster child for badge engineering, a practice the automaker regularly relied on in the days prior to filing Chapter 11.

Admittedly, badge engineering has long been GMC's modus operandi, but the previous-generation Acadia at least gave us hope the General was making a sincere attempt to create a distinct product portfolio for its "Professional Grade" truck and SUV division.

That first Acadia—developed before GM declared bankruptcy—shared essentially all but superficial aesthetics with the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse (as well as the short-lived Saturn Outlook). GM changed the script upon redesigning the mid-size SUV for 2017. Whereas the wheelbases and overall lengths of the Buick and Chevy grew in size for their sophomore generation, the wheelbase and overall length of the GMC shrank by 6.4 inches and 7.2 inches, respectively. Short of the Cadillac XT6 luxury SUV, no other SUV from GM (at least in the United States) combined the wieldy dimensions of the Acadia with three rows of seats.

2024 gmc acadia

Plus-Size Model

Old habits die hard, though, and GMC returns the Acadia to its indistinct roots for 2024. The third-generation SUV is once again a fraternal sibling to the latest Enclave and Traverse. As such, the Acadia is a whole lot bigger than its predecessor. Its wheelbase and overall length now stretch to 120.9 and 204.0 inches, shadowing those of the outgoing model by 8.4 and 10.6 inches. Overall width swells by more than four inches too.


Despite its larger footprint, the Acadia looks as handsome as ever. A Yukon-like maw, square stance, and unfettered rear end give the new Acadia an air of refinement and strength that's missing from its plainer Buick and busier Chevy chassis-mates.

Square Inside

A similar sense of style permeates the cabin. Right angles dominate the dashboard, with the 15.0-inch vertically oriented touchscreen infotainment system serving as the focal point. To its left sits a smaller 11.0-inch instrument cluster screen. Both displays come standard across the board, as do niceties such as a surround-view camera system, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad.

2024 gmc acadia

Predictably, the Acadia's insides are far roomier too. The longer wheelbase and additional width notably improve legroom and shoulder room throughout, and GMC claims each row benefits from gains in all passenger-space-related dimensions. Cargo capacity grows drastically, as well, with the brand reporting an 80 percent increase in space behind the third row and a 23 percent increase aft of the driver and front passenger seats.

For perspective, the outgoing Acadia held just two carry-on-size boxes behind its rearmost row and 28 with its second- and third-row seats folded in our testing. Meanwhile, the previous-gen Chevy Traverse, which is similarly sized to the 2024 Acadia, fit six carry-on-size boxes in its cargo hold with all seats in place and 40 with all rear seats folded.

Is the Price Right?

The Acadia's dimensions are not the only part of the SUV that get larger for 2024 though. With a starting price of $43,995, the latest Acadia costs $5800 more than last year's base model. GMC's decision to consolidate from four to three trim levels is partly responsible for this uptick in the asking price.

2024 gmc acadia

Gone are the SLE and SLT grades from last year. Instead, the new Elevation trim serves as the entry-level point for the Acadia. From a features perspective, the Elevation effectively takes the place of the prior SLT, which stickered for $42,495, or $1500 less than the 2024 model's cost of entry. The off-road-oriented all-wheel-drive-only AT4 and near-luxury Denali trims return, wearing base prices of $51,395 and $55,695.

GMC limited our drive time to the latter two trims. The Denali, like the Elevation, comes standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive $2000 extra.

The Acadia Denali we drove came so equipped. It also sported the $3130 Denali Reserve package, which among other things, replaces the trim's standard 20-inch wheels and tires with bigger 22-inch units and adds ZF's adaptive dampers. These dampers are also standard fare on the AT4, which rides exclusively on 18-inch wheels shod in Goodyear Wrangler Territory AT rubber.

2024 gmc acadia

On the flat roads in and around Bluffton, South Carolina, the big-wheeled Denali comfortably cruised over swaths of largely flat asphalt. On the few occasions we hit a bump in the road, we noticed no undue impact harshness. That said, the various nooks, crannies, and cracks that pockmark southeast Michigan's crumbling asphalt may overwhelm the setup, so we look forward to driving an Acadia in our native environment.

AT4 on the Dirt and Tarmac

During our stint behind the wheel of the AT4, we ventured onto a few dirt and sand-covered roads. In this setting, the taller sidewalls of the tires and AT4-specific tuning of the ZF dampers (which also add a hydrualic rebound stop to limit any uncouth clunking under full droop) worked together in harmony, netting a smooth and stable ride on this not-so-tough terrain. Meanwhile, the AT4-exclusive twin-clutch rear differential coolly shuffled torque from side to side through turns, combatting understeer and allowing the Acadia to cut through corners at above-average speeds neutrally.

Opting for the AT4 adds a handful of other features that aim to improve the SUV's off-tarmac capabilities. This includes a 1.0-inch lift, a 0.5 inch wider rear track, fender skirts that add 0.4 inch to the SUV's overall width, a pair of underbody skid plates (an aluminum one that pokes out from the trim-specific front fascias and protects the radiator and condenser module, and a steel one that shields the powertrain), a specially tuned Off-Road drive mode, and the addition of a Terrain drive mode that effectively adds a crawl control function that works at up to 50 mph.

2024 gmc acadia

The Acadia's Turbo Four Brings More Power and Torque

Unlike the last Acadia, which relied on either a 228-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four or 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6—each mating to a nine-speed automatic transmission—the 2024 model comes strictly with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that pairs with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This engine is closely related to the turbocharged 2.7-liter four of the GMC Canyon and Sierra 1500 pickup trucks (as well as the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Cadillac CT4).

That unit, however, is too wide to fit transversely under the Acadia's hood. To clear that hurdle, GM decreased the bore of the cylinders, enabling the use of a narrower block.

The turbo 2.5-liter produces 328 horses and 326 pound-feet of torque, an additional 55 pound-feet of twist over last year's V-6 (and 68 more than the old turbo four)—and 18 more horses, but 104 fewer pound-feet of torque, than the GMC 2.7-liter.

Despite its engine's sizable output, the Acadia leaves the line lethargically. Blame the lackadaisical throttle tip-in, as well as the all-wheel-drive model's claimed curb weight of nearly 5000 pounds. Things pick up once rolling, and the generous midrange torque of the engine and responsive transmission afford the Acadia reasonable gusto in passing situations.

2024 gmc acadia

Unfortunately, pushing the tachometer past 2500 revs or so begets a coarse and loud protest from the four-cylinder that permeates the passenger compartment. It's hard to avoid, too, as the turbo 2.5-liter often needs to work up toward its 3500 rpm torque peak to properly propel the Acadia in most driving situations.

Save for the firm and assured brake pedal, GMC makes little effort to hide the immense size and mass of the Acadia from the driver. Slow steering that suffers from a large on-center dead spot further limits any notion that this is anything but a big SUV.

Then again, that is what the Acadia is now: a big SUV. And its transparent size makes it ideal for shuttling multiple full-size passengers about in the comfortable second-row bucket seats or the tighter but still sizable third row that's positioned in such a way so that all but the tallest riders need not uncomfortably contort their bodies to fit in it.

It appears GM has given into its worst angels with the 2024 GMC Acadia. The automaker turned what was once a relatively distinct model in its portfolio into a rebadged and rebodied version of a vehicle of which two mechanically identical variants already exist (both at similar price points, no less). At least those angels have an eye for design, and the Acadia packs pleasing looks both inside and out.

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