As a three-row midsize SUV, the 2021 GMC Acadia fills the gap between the smaller GMC Terrain and the larger Yukon. After a styling refresh and several upgrades last year, the Acadia returns in 2021 with only minor changes.

From the affordable albeit modestly appointed base model to the off-road-themed AT4 and luxurious Denali trim, there’s a wide range of Acadias to choose from.

The 2021 GMC Acadia is offered in five trim levels — SLSLESLTAT4, and Denali — and comes with one of three engine choices. Most Acadia trim levels have standard front-wheel drive and offer all-wheel drive as an option.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The 2021 GMC Acadia‘s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder good for 193 horsepower and the optional 3.6-liter V-6 makes 310 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard with either engine and all-wheel drive is optional.

The 2.5-liter is good for maximizing fuel efficiency, but not much else—it has a measly 1000-pound towing capacity whereas the V-6 can tow up to 4000 pounds. A turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 230 horsepower is also available, but only on the SLT and Denali trims.

While you’ll never forget that you’re driving an SUV, the 2021 GMC Acadia is competent and reasonably composed. The Acadia feels ponderous during high-speed cornering, but when driven in a less aggressive manner (as most people drive most of the time), the ride is forgiving and stable.

An adaptive suspension—standard on the Denali and optional on SLT-2 trims with all-wheel drive—adjusts the dampers every two milliseconds to help smooth out the ride over bumps or to tighten things up if the driver starts feeling frisky.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The EPA estimates the front-drive version with the base 2.5-liter engine will earn 21 mpg city and 27 highway. The V-6 with front-wheel drive has estimates of 19 mpg city and 27 highway.

The turbocharged engine with front-wheel drive is the thriftiest combination, with ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 highway. However, we haven’t tested any 2021 GMC Acadia with the nine-speed automatic transmission on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The 2021 GMC Acadia‘s compact exterior may help it fit into garages and parking spaces, but it imposes consequences on interior spaciousness. The interior design is pleasing to the eye, and most controls are intuitive and within reach of the driver.

A black-and-white gauge cluster with red needles provides information at a glance; Denali models feature a reconfigurable center screen that provides a plethora of additional vehicle information depending on the driver’s settings.

The tilting-and-telescoping steering column could use more range to give very tall or very short drivers a comfortable position, but it still works for most people. The leather-wrapped steering wheel features aluminum trim that is convincingly upscale.

Unfortunately, some of the interior materials have a cheap look and feel. With the third row in use, we were only able to fit two carry-on suitcases in the 2021 GMC Acadia, but with the second-and third-row seats stowed, we were able to fit 28.

The Dodge Durango held four cases behind its third row and 30 with the rear rows of seats folded, so it might be a better choice if you’ll be frequently hauling people and cargo at the same time.

Infotainment and Connectivity

When it comes to technology, the 2021 GMC Acadia offers plenty for the whole family. From an abundance of USB ports to a Wi-Fi hotspot, passengers can easily stay connected.

The touchscreen infotainment system is intuitive and responsive; charging more than one device that requires a 12-volt outlet may prove a challenge, as only one of those outlets is provided.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

The 2021 Acadia earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the last version that was evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) wasn’t named a Top Safety Pick.

Its driver-assistance technologies add an additional level of protection, but they’re either expensive options or they force the buyer to choose one of the costly top trims.

Photos

2021 GMC Acadia

2021 GMC Acadia

2021 GMC Acadia

2021 GMC Acadia

2021 GMC Acadia

Full Specifications

2020 GMC Acadia AT4

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front/all-wheel-drive, 5–7-passenger, 4-door hatchback

BASE PRICE
$43,395

ENGINE TYPE
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement
223 cu in, 3649 cc
Power
310 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque
271 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm

TRANSMISSION
9-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 112.5 in
Length: 193.6 in
Width: 75.4 in
Height: 66.0 in
Passenger volume: 109–142 cu ft
Cargo volume: 13–42 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 4400 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
Zero to 60 mph: 6.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.2 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.9 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/city/highway: 21/18/25 mpg

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