Sunday, May 4, 2014


For 2014, the GMC Acadia sees just a few changes. All Acadias gain an additional pair of charge-only USB ports, while the Denali trim picks up standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems.

GMC's family hauler is ideal for transporting your big brood to the lake or hauling a full load of provisions away from your local big box store. Large crossovers are good like that, combining much of the passenger- and cargo-hauling abilities of a minivan with the rugged good looks and (when equipped with all-wheel drive) the foul-weather capability of a traditional SUV. In this highly competitive segment, the Acadia stands as one of the best picks.

In addition to its spacious interior, the GMC Acadia earns high marks for its comfortable ride, easy-going driving demeanor and 288-horsepower V6, which provides ample thrust for daily commutes and long interstate runs alike. Of course, the Acadia is not exactly unique, as Buick's Enclave and Chevy's Traverse share the same basic platform, engine and seating layout, and differ mainly in their styling and equipment details. The Chevy has the lowest starting price, while the luxury-themed Buick packs the most standard features. The Acadia offers an agreeable middle ground, along with ruggedly handsome styling that reflects the brand's truck heritage. Choosing one of the three will likely come down to your styling preference, pricing and your experience at the dealership.

Although the GMC Acadia and its cousins are tough to beat if you need lots of space (and don't really want a minivan), we'd also suggest considering the highly regarded Ford Flex and the more athletic handling and nearly as spacious Mazda CX-9. The Dodge Durango, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder are also solid picks in this price range, though they don't offer quite as much interior room as the aforementioned models. With so many choices out there for a three-row crossover, narrowing down your list of candidates can be tough. For families who need eight-passenger seating above all else, though, it's hard to go wrong with the 2014 GMC Acadia.

The SLE-1 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, cruise control, rear manual air-conditioning control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar telematics, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack. There are also dual USB charge-only ports on the rear of the center console.

The SLE-2 adds remote vehicle start, a power liftgate, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way lumbar), a two-way power passenger seat (manual recline), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the Intellilink electronics interface that includes voice controls, Bluetooth audio connectivity and smartphone app integration.

The SLT-1 adds 19-inch wheels, foglamps, variable-effort steering, heated mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery in the first and second rows (third row vinyl), heated front seats, an enhanced trip computer, rear-seat audio controls and a 10-speaker Bose sound system.The SLT-2 includes power-folding mirrors, driver memory functions, an eight-way power passenger seat and access to additional options. These add-ons include ventilated front seats and the Technology package, which adds xenon headlights, a head-up display and cargo area audio controls.

The Denali includes all of the SLT-2's optional items, plus unique styling flourishes inside and out, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, a panoramic sunroof, forward collision alert system, lane departure warning system, increased sound insulation and a wood-trimmed steering wheel.

That sunroof is optional on all other Acadia trims except the SLE-1. The same goes for the rear-seat entertainment system, which includes a Bose surround-sound audio system and a 110-volt power outlet. The SLT trims and the Denali can also be equipped with a navigation system.

The EPA estimates a front-drive Acadia will return 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway). All-wheel-drive models drop to 18 combined (16 city/23 highway).

The SLT-2 and Denali also feature standard side blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert. The Denali comes standard with forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems, which are optional on the SLTs.

In government crash tests, the Acadia earned a top five-star rating for overall performance, with five out of five stars earned for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Acadia also fared well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, where it got the highest rating of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Front occupants will enjoy abundant head- and legroom, as will second-row occupants, but the middle row seat cushions are mounted low, reducing comfort for adults. Sliding those seats all the way back alleviates this issue, but effectively kills third-row legroom. The slide release is also difficult to access. The narrow, flat-cushioned third-row seats are easily deployed and stowed, but are best suited to kids and smaller adults.

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