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Video: 2024 GMC Acadia Review: Slick Style, Familiar Personality

13:10 min
By Cars.com Editors
June 13, 2024

About the video

Cars.com’s Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman trekked down to Hilton Head, S.C. to have a first crack at the 2024 GMC Acadia on the roads and highways through the coastal marshes.

Transcript

General Motors is in the middle of updating all of its big three-row family crossovers. We've already driven the new 2024 Chevrolet Traverse.
We're probably gonna be driving the new '24 Buick Enclave very soon, and we have just driven the new 2024 GMC Acadia. Now if it looks a bit bigger than the last version of the Acadia, well that's because it is. The Acadia is, once again, as big as it once was, and it's bigger than it just was. Well, what does that mean? That means that it actually shares a platform again with the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave, which means it's grown in volume and interior size as well. And we've come here to humid as hell, alligator (laughs) infested Hilton Head, South Carolina to drive the new '24 Acadia. And here's what we think about it. First thing to know about the new '24 Acadia is that there are three trim levels for 2024. At the bottom rung, the entry level is the Elevation trim level, and it's actually really quite well-equipped. It's got a lot of equipment, it's got a really nice interior. It's kind of a vinyl faux leather, but it looks really good. And above that will be the AT4. It's the off-road version of the Acadia. And above that you have the top trim level of the Denali, which most people are familiar with the Denali trim. It's become almost (laughs) more well known than GMC itself. However, the one we're in right now is the AT4. This is ostensibly their off-road version. Now, we've seen something similar from Chevrolet with the new Traverse Z71 package, but there have been AT4 versions of the Acadia before. However, now it's gotten quite a bit more capable according to GMC. It's not just an appearance package like you see on so many other three-row crossover SUVs like this one, say like from Nissan or Volkswagen. This one actually does have a little bit of off-road capability to it. What have they changed? Well, it's got a specific style to it, especially in the front-end where you've got a higher bumper that allows for a easier approach. You've got an aluminum skid plate up front, which is more cosmetic than anything. The real protection is underneath where you have an actual steel skid plate protecting some of the sensitive bits underneath. It sits about an inch higher than the rest of the Acadia lineup, so you've got a bit more ground clearances that way, and it runs on all-terrain tires that are a bit more aggressive than we've seen in previous AT4 versions of GMC SUVs. So you can also add in a special all-wheel drive system. There's an all-wheel drive system for the Elevation and the Denali versions, but the all-wheel drive system for the AT4 is a little bit more capable. So when it goes off-road, it's not really meant to go crazy off-road. You're not gonna be scaling rocks or doing a lot of over landing or running the Rubicon Trail. But if you're going to, like, a campsite on a really sandy track or you've got a two-track path to a woodsy cabin, this thing will actually get you there pretty easily. It also has two different off-road modes. Everything's got off-road mode, but this also has a terrain mode. Now, off-road mode changes things like stability, controls slip angle, it allows you to have a little bit looser traction. Believe it or not, when you're going off-road. That's kind of what you want in some situations, like when you're going through deep sand, you wanna be able to maintain momentum. And when you put it in off-road mode, the AT4 will actually let you do that. The terrain mode is more of a rock-crawling mode. It's a low-speed off-road mode, and it's meant to try and get over obstacles like moguls or even some smaller boulders or logs or things that might have fallen into your path. Now, nobody is suggesting that you're gonna go and buy a new Acadia AT4 and head off into the mountains on an adventure like you would in, say, a Jeep Wrangler or a Ford Bronco. But this does have nominally more capability in terms of these off-road three row crossovers than we've seen from a number of other brands. One thing that all of the Acadias share, among them, all the three trim levels, is the powertrain. It's a 2 1/2 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and in the Acadia it makes 328 horsepower and 326 pounds-feet of torque. If that sounds familiar, that's because that's the exact same powertrain that's in the Chevy Traverse as well. 'Cause one of my chief complaints among a lot of General Motors product is that they share a lot of powertrain stuff, but there aren't many differences between power output and feeling and that kind of thing. So this has the same engine basically as the Traverse, the same eight-speed automatic transmission as well. Front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, depending on the trim level and the options that you've selected. How does it work? Well, that's what we're here to actually find out. This is the AT4 trim level, and we've also driven the Denali trim level as well, and they actually behave pretty similarly out here on the pavement. The steering, I think, is the one thing that I noticed the most, and that it's not great. It always feels like it's doing something, like it's dancing in my hands, even though I have all the lane-keeping assisted stuff turned off, it always feels like it's pulling or doing something that I'm not specifically doing. The on-center feel is not great. That's pretty much the only complaint, however, about the steering. It is progressive, it does provide feedback, it is relatively communicative. It's just that when you're doing a dead-straight ahead kind of thing, you're always correcting it. It doesn't feel all that solid like it really should. The engine itself, the 2 1/2 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making it 328 horsepower, doesn't feel like it's making that much horsepower. It's reasonably quick. I wouldn't call this a slow vehicle by any means. It does get out of its own way, as they say, when you put your foot down, but it is also (laughs) accompanied by a lot of noise. This is a very noisy four-cylinder. It's not a bad noise, but it's a lot of noise, and it doesn't really add to the premium experience that GMC is trying to craft with this interior. It feels kind of harsh, it feels like it's struggling, it's just kind of loud. It really shouldn't be this loud in this vehicle, and I'm really curious to see what eventually driving the new Buick Enclave, which is also being redesigned for this year, is going to do with all that Buick QuietTuning, if that really calms the engine noise or not. Because in the Acadia and in the Chevy Traverse, it does end up kind of a racket When you put your foot down. The transmission is not terribly eager to kick down either. When you put your foot down to get more acceleration, it does hesitate 1/2 a second in order to get you the kind of power response that you want. It's not as quick and sprightly as say a Volkswagen Atlas is with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but it is just as powerful as anything from, say, you know, the Hyundai's V6 lineup. So it's adequate, and I don't think it's gonna be an issue for a lot of buyers for this vehicle. If anything, we've seen that most General Motors buyers really don't seem to care about what's under the hood. They're really more concerned with the rest of the vehicle experience. And the rest of the vehicle experience is actually quite good. The interior in this one, the AT4, is really nice. One of the complaints I had about the Chevy Traverse was that it felt kind of plasticky inside, even when you were in the top $55,000 RS trim level. This one is the mid-trim level, the AT4, and it really does feel nice. There's a lot of really beautiful materials in here. In the Denali, you actually get real wood, real leather. In the AT4, you get a mixture of kind of a thick leather and this fabric material, but it's meant to be more off-roady, outdoorsy, and it really does feel good. The biggest change I think between the Traverse and the Acadia is what you see up here. Ahead of you, you have an 11-inch display gauge cluster digital, but here you have a 15-inch diagonal display. Now in the Traverse, it's a 17-inch horizontal display. So this is kind of changing up the orientation and what they do with it. It's still running the Google Automotive operating system, so it has all of that Google functionality built in. All of the navigation system is Google Maps. It's got Google Assistant. When you call out to do some kind of voice command, even just to change things like radio station or temperature, you basically ask Google to do it and not necessarily your car. The 15-inch vertical portrait orientation of this thing really isn't bad. I've seen some of the vertical things we've seen in like the the Ram 1500 or some of the Ford products, This I like a lot more because it is still wider. In a lot of those vertical-oriented screens, the screen is narrow but long. Here it's both wide and long, but it's big, it's easy to use. It's really quite bright. I like it a lot. It works pretty well, and it actually has a home screen that has various cards on it that you can reconfigure as you need to. So the customizability is there, the functionality is there as long as you have data connection. Because if you are somewhere that doesn't have a data connection and you ask the navigation to do something, it will tell you it can't talk to the Cloud and it won't do it for you. So that's the big bug with a lot of these new Google operating systems is that you have to have data connection in order for them to work. And if you're in a pickup truck or an SUV and you're in the middle of nowhere, that can also be an issue. One thing I have to comment on is the ride quality of the new Acadia. Just like in the Traverse, it's outstanding. It's really a very smooth vehicle, both on pavement and off-road. One of the thing we noticed about the Traverse Z71 and the Acadia AT4 when we took them off-road is that it's still extremely smooth. You're basically gliding along over stuff. Even washboard kind of dirt-road situations at higher speeds really isn't that much of an issue. You'll see some cowl shake, you'll hear a little bit of reverberation in the cabin, but overall it's an extremely refined, very smooth experience that is one of the better in its class. We've seen some of these three-row crossovers get kind of floaty, get kind of jittery. Not so this one. It just feels really smooth, really quiet. Now, in terms of quiet, the Denali does have an advantage over the AT4, in that it's got on-road tires. These are running all-terrain 18-inch tires, where the Denali that we drove had the optional 22-inch wheels. And the ride quality was fine, but the noise in here from these more off-road oriented tires is a little bit more than we would like. Some of that is the pavement, although it's really not that bad. That's one of the things you have to consider is when you're looking at one of these off road trims of any three-row crossover SUV is what do those tires, those chunky or knobby or all-terrain tires, what do they do to the ride quality? What do they do to the noise as you're driving down a freeway at highway speeds? The Acadia is now offering GM's Super Cruise, semi-autonomous hands-free driving system. And how it works is you have to see the little white steering wheel icon, either on the heads-up display or on the digital display in front of you, and you push this button here, ba-bong, this turns green and it sets the speed of whatever you've had it at. So it's basically like a hands-free cruise control. Now, you still have to pay attention to what you're doing. You can't go off and read a book or have a nap. It is monitoring you to make sure that you are actually paying attention. That's one of the things the GM Super Cruise does. But they've upgraded the number of roads that you can use Super Cruise on, like this, a basically four-lane divided highway. Then they've also added things like two-lane blacktop through rural areas as well. I'm not comfortable using (laughs) Super Cruise in two-lane rural blacktop where you've got people coming at you, where you've got people coming in from the sides. That's not really where I would even use cruise control. And I'm not gonna use Super Cruise anywhere that I'm not using cruise control. Here, however, there are things like stoplights. Right now, it's driving in full Super Cruise mode. It's steering, but there's a stoplight coming up, and eventually it's going to tell me, well, it'll slow down, but it's also gonna say, "Yep, take over." Just like that. Flashes red on the wheel, flashes red in the dash, and you have to take over driving the vehicle. So it's not full self-driving like you've seen in some Tesla YouTuber videos, but it's one of the better hands-free systems, I think. So really, how does it feel? Well, frankly, it feels like the Traverse. (laughs) It's not all that different in terms of the driving experience, the ride, the suspension quality, the steering quality, acceleration power from this 2 1/2 liter turbo engine. All of it pretty much feels very similar to the Chevrolet. What you're paying extra money for is the niceness of this interior, the screen, the quality of the materials in here. These are a step up from Chevrolet. So overall, it's a slightly pricier version of the Traverse. I think it looks a bit better, and it definitely feels a lot better inside. And that's what the '24 Acadia is like to drive on just a quick spin that we've had here in South Carolina. We're looking forward to getting one into the cars.com offices soon for a much more comprehensive test. Things like how well car seats fit, how much cargo can you fit behind that second row, what's it like to put kids in the third row? All that information and more is coming to cars.com/news very soon. And that's also where you can find pricing on the new 2024 GMC Acadia. And if you'd like to know more about anything regarding the new GMC lineup for 2024, you can look all of that up at cars.com/news. (bright uptempo music)

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