Following its redesign for 2019, the slimmed-down GMC Acadia is a tweener three-row crossover, giving up some interior space for more manageable exterior dimensions.
Its fine ride and handling impress, although interior quality is not up to the standards of most competitors. Done up here in its off-road-inspired trim, the 2022 GMC Acadia AT4 looks to show its rugged side.
As a midsize crossover, the GMC Acadia doesn’t particularly stand out in a crowd, although it does show pleasing and purposeful lines that trade on the brand’s “professional grade” theme. The bold grille echoes the GMC pickup line, and this AT4 trim gets black plastic body cladding, darkened trim, and 17-inch black wheels shod in chunky tires. Up front are standard LED fog- and headlights.
The Acadia AT4 comes standard with a full suite of safety systems: front and rear parking sensors, following-distance indicator, forward collision warning and emergency braking, front pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, and OnStar connected services.
Selecting the Pro Grade package ($2,995) adds, among other features, a head-up display and surround-view cameras. Adaptive cruise control is not available on the AT4 trim. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Acadia a full five-star rating, and it also earned good overall ratings from the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Both the front buckets and second-row captain’s chairs are comfortable and easily accessed, but with the Acadia having tidier dimensions than many other three-rows in this segment, the rearmost seats are best suited for occasional use and shouldn’t be considered an everyday asset.
Nonetheless, a one-touch slide-and-fold function for the second-row captain’s chairs allows for reasonable accessibility. While there is some recline functionality in the two rear perches, legroom is limited, especially if the second-row passengers in their sliding chairs are not feeling generous.
The GMC Acadia offers a modest 362 L of cargo space behind the third row. Folding the second row expands capacity to 1,181 L. Dropping the second and third rows, meanwhile, expands the total capacity to 2,237 L. Both rows drop easily and create a flat load floor.
Since the AT4 comes only with the Acadia’s larger 3.6L V6 engine, it enjoys a max towing capacity of 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) when equipped with the $960 tow package. Included with this is a Class III hitch, heavy-duty cooling system, 170-amp alternator, and hitch guidance camera.
User Friendliness: 7/10
Ergonomics within the Acadia AT4’s cabin are a mixed bag. It gets high marks for the logical touchscreen interface (although at eight inches, it’s unfashionably small), and the plethora of well-marked buttons along with rotary knobs for volume, tuning, cabin temperature, and fan speed are big wins.
Contrasting that is the row of push-or-pull buttons for gear selection at the base of the centre stack. Yes, it frees up space on the console; but wearing bulky gloves (it dropped to -17°C during testing) makes it nearly impossible to get a digit in behind the drive or reverse triggers. And the ability to manually shuffle gears is essentially lost here, as there are no steering wheel paddles, and the little buttons to do so on the console are puny and hard to reach.
Forward outward visibility is hampered by the dash’s high cowl line and thick A-pillars, the latter particularly troublesome as they, along with the big mirrors, block sightlines when negotiating city streets.
A handy feature is the hands-free tailgate that, at night, projects a “GMC” marker on the ground to show where to sweep your foot.
Along with the long list of standard safety systems, the Acadia AT4 gets hill descent control and a unique multi-setting dual-clutch all-wheel drive system. A rotary knob on the console calls up the five modes (two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, sport, trail, or towing). Since there’s no increase in the AT4’s ride height, it doesn’t fall into the serious off-roader category, but it’s of the same ilk as Honda’s new Trailsport offerings or Subaru’s Wilderness.
Standard interior features include an eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, 120-volt power outlet, keyless entry with push-button start, and tri-zone climate control. Consider the comprehensive $2,995 GMC Pro Grade package necessary, as it provides a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 360-degree camera, head-up display, dual sunroofs, memory seating, an eight-way power passenger seat, folding/heated/dimming exterior mirrors, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
The standard eight-speaker audio is quite good, and the system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. Also included is navigation, a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, and a three-month satellite radio subscription. This tester’s Jet Black perforated leather ($1,195) replaces the standard cloth upholstery.
While other GMC Acadia models have the option of a turbocharged four-cylinder, the “tough guy” AT4 runs only with GM’s ubiquitous 3.6L V6 that puts out a robust 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque here. It’s a strong, linear engine, and while it doesn’t have the low-down turbo punch of some rivals, it provides plenty of urge – and a bit of old-fashioned torque steer if you hammer the throttle when in front-wheel drive. The nine-speed automatic transmission is a slick unit, shuffling the gears smoothly and intelligently. Together, they make a great pair.
For those not relegated to the third row, the GMC Acadia AT4 scores well for comfort. The front buckets, here trimmed in optional leather and offering eight-way power adjustment plus power lumbar, are well contoured, providing an impressive balance of comfort and long-distance support. Tri-level heating and ventilation will keep the backside happy. The heated second-row captain’s chairs are also nicely contoured.
Passengers will be happy with the AT4’s composed and refined ride. The suspension does an expert job of absorbing road imperfections while avoiding any unwanted floatiness or pitching. The AT4’s high profile 17-inch tires probably help in this regard. With standard active noise cancellation, the GMC’s cabin remains pleasantly hushed – all the better for enjoying the warm-sounding stereo.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
The 2022 GMC Acadia is a dynamically impressive three-row crossover. It’s not the fastest nor the most sporting in the segment, but engineers have fashioned a satisfying driving experience here, blending excellent steering feel, a smooth ride, and fine handling. The SUV always feels composed, planted, and reassuringly competent, and calling up sport mode adds a bit more urgency to the throttle response and transmission mapping.
Factor in the eager V6, brainy nine-speed auto, and effective all-wheel drive, and you come away with one of the better driving SUVs in this segment.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
A week of mixed winter driving with an admittedly light touch on the throttle netted 11.3 L/100 km. This pretty much lines up with other V6-powered rivals like the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, or Volkswagen Atlas, although they’re all slightly larger than the Acadia. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the V6-powered version is rated for 12.6 L/100 km in the city, 9.2 on the highway, and 11.0 combined.
With an as-tested price of a little less than $55,000 before freight and taxes, the 2022 GMC Acadia AT4 sits right in the heart of some very stiff competition. The Kia Telluride SX Limited, for the same price, has more features, more room, and a top-shelf interior fitted with a larger touchscreen interface. Same with the Hyundai Palisade. The Ford Explorer in Timberline trim ($51,499) could be considered more of a direct competitor to the Acadia AT4, as it trades on the “off-road adventure” theme.
So, what to make of the three-row Acadia AT4? In this hotly contested segment with numerous rivals, some new and some old, this GMC doesn’t particularly stand out. And it certainly isn’t helped by its underwhelming interior quality.
The AT4’s biggest pluses are its fine drivetrain, and ride/handling balance. With it sliding in size-wise under the Kia Telluride, VW Atlas, Dodge Durango, and Hyundai Palisade crowd, what the Acadia loses in third-row room it makes up for with its tidy, more manageable dimensions. It’s a pleasant enough day-to-day drive, and if ultimate space isn’t a prime concern, the AT4 is worth a look.
|Peak Horsepower||310 hp @ 6,600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.6 / 9.2 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||362 / 1,181 / 2,237 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2022 GMC Acadia AT4|
|Price as Tested||$56,598|
$5,900 – GMC Pro Grade Package, $2,995; Jet Black Perforated Leather, $1,195; LPO Adventure Package, $960; Trailering Package, $750