2020 GMC Acadia

2020 GMC Acadia Review: Near-Luxury All-Rounder

by Morgan Carter

The GMC Acadia makes a brave attempt at blending the opposing values of affordability, luxury, and practicality into one slightly smaller-than-average midsize crossover. This is a pretty tall order, and we can't help but feel that its reach has exceeded its grasp. The Acadia can seat seven in its standard configuration and six in its more luxurious guises, but those in the rear-most seats will feel cramped no matter what you do. It comes with quite a bit of tech as standard, but even then, it feels lacking against rivals that get more desirable driver-assistance features on the lower trims. Still, the new turbo four-pot with 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque is a nice step up on the mid-tier trims for those who don't want to shell out for the powerful V6 engine. Despite these demerits, GMC's midsize crossover still delivers a cozy ride, and it looks good from the outside, too.

2020 GMC Acadia Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Acadia?

Quite a number of changes have been made to the Acadia for its 2020 mid-cycle facelift. In terms of looks, the crossover receives a new grille design, as well as an updated rear fascia, with LED lights all-round as standard. There are also a few new designs for the upper trim's 18- and 20-inch wheels. Under the hood of the SLT and Denali, there is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and an off-road-inspired trim has been added to the line-up - the AT4. In terms of features, the infotainment interface has been upgraded to a crisper eight-inch touchscreen, while the upper trims are offered access to a rearview camera mirror and a head-up display. Every engine, including the new turbo four-pot, comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission this year.

Pros and Cons

  • Lively optional V6 engine
  • Refined riding experience
  • Decent list of standard tech features
  • Easy-to-use infotainment
  • Multiple seating configurations
  • Barely useable third-row seats
  • Low standard cargo capacity
  • Disappointing cabin quality for the price

2020 GMC Acadia Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SL
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$29,800
SLE
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$33,800
SLT
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$39,700
AT4
3.6-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$42,200
Denali
3.6-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$46,300

Acadia Exterior

With its makeover for 2020, the GMC Acadia is better looking than ever. The all-new grille is squarer than before, with bolder horizontal bars. Automatic LED headlights with signature GMC C-shaped lighting, rest astride the grille, with LED fog lights recessed within the lower bumper on upper trims. The base model SL rides on 17-inch alloys, as does the new AT4, but the SLE and SLT get 18-inch alloys, while the Denali gets impressive 20-inch wheels. Each model from the SLT up gets a hands-free power liftgate, and the top-of-the-range Denali can spec on a dual-panel power sunroof. The SLE and SLT can be outfitted with the Bright or Black Accent packages to customize their exterior, while the AT4 comes standard with a black chrome-accented grille and darker exterior trimmings.

2020 GMC Acadia Front Angle View GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Rear Angle View GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Frontal Aspect GMC
See All 2020 GMC Acadia Exterior Photos

Dimensions

While it may be a three-row SUV, the Acadia isn't overly large. From nose to tail, it measures 193.4 inches long, with a 112.5-inch wheelbase. Without its mirrors, the SUV has a width of 75.4 inches, while it stands 66.7 inches tall, giving occupants a rather commanding view. But, while the Acadia does get access to an all-wheel drivetrain, it's not the best off-roader, with a ground clearance of 7.2 inches. The base SL trim with a front-wheel drivetrain weighs 3,923 pounds, while the all-wheel-drive Denali tops out at 4,390 lbs.

  • Length 193.4 in
  • Wheelbase 112.5 in
  • Height 66.7 in
  • Max Width 75.4 in
  • Front Width 64.5 in
  • Rear Width 64.5 in

Exterior Colors

A total of ten colors comprise the palette for the GMC Acadia, but the base-level SL gets access to only the standard Summit White and the $495 Quicksilver Metallic. The models from the SLE upwards get access to the rest of the metallics line-up, including Satin Steel, Ebony Twilight, Carbon Black, Dark Sky, Red Mahogany, and Smokey Quartz. Red Quartz Tintcoat is also added to the palette, at a surcharge of $595. The mid-tier SLT adds the most expensive paint to the list, White Frost Tricoat, for $1,095.

Acadia Performance

Performance across the Acadia range varies quite a bit with three different powertrains on offer. The standard engine on the SL and SLE is a non-turbo four-pot, with sub-200 horsepower and torque, so its performance is pretty lackluster, even with the upgraded nine-speed automatic transmission. The fact that it can't even pair with the all-wheel drivetrain is a testament to its lack of power.

When equipped with all-wheel-drive, the SLE gets the new turbo four-pot that comes standard on the SLT. With 230 hp and 258 lb-ft, the turbo engine does a much better job of moving the crossover. While still not as strong as the available V6, the mid-tier powertrain is far more capable of hauling the Acadia around town, with more lively acceleration and easier access to low-end torque.

The V6 can be optioned on the SLE and SLT, but it comes standard on the AT4 and Denali. With 310 hp and 271 lb-ft, the top-tier engine gets the crossover moving without fuss, launching it to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 seconds, according to independent testers. It also gives the crossover its highest towing capacity of 4,000 lbs when properly equipped. The standard four-cylinder can only manage 1,000 lbs, while the turbo four-pot can handle an extra 500 lbs.

2020 GMC Acadia Driving Front Angle GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Rear Perspective Driving GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Wheel GMC

Engine and Transmission

Three engines are available to the GMC Acadia, with two carrying over from last year. The lower-tier SL and SLE get the weakest engine as standard, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that develops 193 hp and 188 lb-ft. But, this engine can only be paired with the front-wheel drivetrain. It will get the crossover around town, but it won't do so quickly, and merging or passing on the highway can only be performed with time and preparation.

The brand-new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder comes standard on the mid-tier SLT, as well as on the all-wheel-drive version of the SLE. Developing 230 hp and 258 lb-ft, this engine gives the Acadia a much-needed boost, especially when it comes to torque. Acceleration around town is much livelier, and the crossover can actually safely pass on the highway in most situations.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine carries over from last year, too. Available to either the front- or all-wheel-drive version of the SLE and SLT, it comes standard on the Denali and the AT4, which is all-wheel-drive only. The throaty V6 develops 310 hp and 271 lb-ft, finally giving GMC's midsize crossover the power it needs to really feel sporty. Power is easily drawn out of the engine around town or when passing on the highway.

Regardless of the engine you opt for, you'll always end up with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This isn't a bad thing, though, and it's definitely an upgrade from the six-speed gearbox from last year.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas, 2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas, 3.6-liter V6, 3.6-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Despite its classification by GMC as an SUV, the Acadia is more carlike than many of its rivals. Thus the crossover handles with greater ease than a vehicle of its size normally would. But ease doesn't equate to fun, which the Acadia certainly is not. Steering is light and responsive, perfect for maneuvering around town, which is further helped by the crossover's relatively slim dimension. However, there is almost no feedback from the wheels.

This is exacerbated by the vehicle's tendency to turn wide, meaning you could understeer without realizing it if you don't pay attention. In other areas, the handling dynamics are more stable. The brakes are more than powerful enough to bring the relatively sprightly crossover to a stop, and the suspension is quite excellent, absorbing all road imperfections in its stride.

The Acadia could technically go off-road, thanks to its available all-wheel drivetrain and All-Terrain Package, but this is geared more towards poor road conditions than it is an invitation to go off the beaten path. Overall, the GMC Acadia is a comfortable, unobjectionable driver that performs its job as a family hauler well, but it certainly isn't a sporty SUV.

Acadia Gas Mileage

With three different engines and two available drivetrains, fuel economy across the Acadia range can vary quite a bit. The lower-tier front-wheel-drive models come with the standard four-cylinder engine, which gets an EPA-estimated 21/27/23 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine can also be paired with the front-wheel drivetrain, getting 21/28/24 mpg, while it gets the same mileage as the standard four-cylinder when paired with the all-wheel drivetrain. The available V6 engine can also be paired with both drivetrains, getting 19/27/21 mpg in FWD, and 18/25/21 mpg in AWD.

With a 19-gallon tank on the FWD models and a 22-gallon on the AWD, the Acadia can cover up to 528 miles in its most efficient guise.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    19.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/27 mpg
* 2020 GMC Acadia SL FWD

Acadia Interior

It's a pity that the interior of the Acadia didn't get a facelift, too, since it's starting to look a bit dated. Still, buyers who want something a little simpler, but still relatively stylish, may be drawn in by the more vintage appearance of the cockpit. The controls are certainly laid out in an easy to use manner, and the console isn't as cluttered as in more feature-heavy SUVs. The infotainment screen isn't small, but many midsize rivals are moving up to nine- or even ten-inch screens to feel more modern. And, while there is some wood and chrome around the cabin, the leather-covered surfaces don't feel as refined as you'd find in more premium American brands like the Lincoln Aviator.

2020 GMC Acadia Control Panel GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Cup Holder GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Steering Wheel Details GMC
See All 2020 GMC Acadia Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

While the Acadia may have lost a few inches over the last few years, it still claims to fit seven passengers in its standard three-row configuration. While this is technically true, those in the back may argue the exact definition of "fit." There is enough head- and legroom in the first two rows to accommodate most adults, but particularly tall passengers may feel some claustrophobia. The poor souls you seat in the third row will definitely have PTSD after a long drive, with only 31.1 inches of legroom and a sloping roofline that cuts into headspace, too. The SLT and Denali each swap out the second-row bench for captain's chairs, giving rear passengers a bit more space to get comfortable. The all-new AT4 does away with the third-row seats altogether, which actually makes it feel a lot more practical. The lower trim levels come with four-way manual front seats, but these can be upgraded to eight-way power front seats with heating and memory. Getting in and out isn't too much trouble, although the second-row seats aren't power-sliding, so accessing the third row takes a little effort. Visibility could be better, with a steep front windshield and small rear side windows surrounded by thick pillars. Luckily, quite a few driver aids come standard.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Front Head Room 40.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.6 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While it can be had with more upscale materials, the lower trims of the Acadia range aren't as lavishly appointed as their price tags would suggest. The SL and SLE each come upholstered in premium cloth, with the former getting access to Jet Black only, while the latter adds Cocoa/Light Ash Gray to the palette. The AT4 also gets the Jet Black cloth as standard, but it can upgrade to perforated leather in Jet Black/Kalahari or the reverse for $1,000. The SLT and Denali come with perforated leather as standard with the same color options as the SLE, although the top-tier model swaps out the Cocoa/Light Ash Gray for Dark Galvanized/Light Shale. Each model comes with genuine wood accents with chrome inlays, which gives the Acadia a more premium feel to try to justify the price tag. Still, at every level, the crossover is well-built with not as many cut corners as we have come to expect from brands under the GMC umbrella.

Acadia Trunk and Cargo Space

When equipped with three rows of seats, as most of its guises are, the GMC Acadia doesn't provide overly impressive trunk space, with only 12.8 cubic feet on offer behind the rear-most seats. While you could probably still manage most daily errands without folding down the third-row seats, you may have to master the art of creative packing. Once the rear-most seats are folded down, or removed as they are in the AT4, your cargo will have a lot more room to breathe, with a total of 41.7 cubic feet available. Yet more space can be freed up by folding down the second-row seats, too, maxing out the Acadia's capacity at 79 cubic feet. This is quite subpar for the segment, with the Kia Telluride and Chevy Traverse offering 21 and 23 cubic feet of standard trunk space, respectively.

There's a fair amount of small-item storage around the cabin, though. Up front, there is a standard glove compartment and a pair of cupholders, along with a relatively spacious bin under the infotainment screen. The center armrest cubby is a little small, and the door pockets are awkwardly shaped. Passengers in the second and third rows each get a set of cupholders.

2020 GMC Acadia Front Chairs GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Central Control Panel GMC
2020 GMC Acadia Seating Trim GMC

Acadia Infotainment and Features

Features

The Acadia gets a pretty decent list of standard features, but it still isn't quite as well-appointed as some of its similarly priced rivals. The entry-level SL comes with tri-zone climate control, cruise control, and keyless entry and ignition. It also gets a 4.2-inch driver-information display and a modest suite of driver-assistance features, including blind-spot detection, lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, a teen driver system, rear park assist, and a rear-seat reminder. Speaking of seats, they come upholstered in premium cloth and the front seats are four-way manually adjustable. Nothing changes in terms of standard features on the SLE, but it gets access to more optional add-ons. The SLT upgrades the upholstery to perforated leather, installs an eight-way power driver's seat, and adds heating to both front seats. It also installs an auto-dimming rearview mirror and adds remote engine start functionality. The top trim enhances the safety suite with forward collision avoidance, front park assist, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and a safety alert seat. It also adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and memory settings for the front seats. Lastly, the driver-information display is upgraded to an eight-inch screen.

Infotainment

Every model of the Acadia comes equipped with an eight-inch GMC touchscreen interface. Standard functionality includes AM/FM Radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, while a six-speaker sound system channels the audio. This offering is expanded with SiriusXM on the SLE, and HD Radio and navigation on the SLT. The mid-tier trim also upgraded to an eight-speaker Bose premium sound system. Five USB ports come standard around the cabin, while a 120-volt power outlet is added to the SLT, and a wireless charging pad is installed on the Denali. Every trim from the SLE upwards can option on a rear-seat entertainment system, with or without a DVD player.

Acadia Problems and Reliability

Despite having a downright average warranty plan, the Acadia receives a decent dependability rating of 81 out of 100 from J.D. Power. This can, in part, be accredited to the very few recalls issued over the last few years. So far, 2020 has not seen any recalls, just as 2019 didn't. However, the crossover was subject to two recalls in 2018 for potential fractures in the fuel pump flange weld and the driveshaft. GMC offers a 36,000-mile/36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty on a new purchase, while the powertrain and roadside assistance plans are a little longer at 60,000 miles/60 months. Only one complimentary maintenance visit is allowed within the first year of ownership.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Acadia Safety

GMC's midsize crossover rates highly with safety organizations. The NHTSA has awarded the Acadia an overall safety rating of five stars, with only frontal passenger side and rollover crash tests scoring a lower four stars. Similarly, the IIHS has given the crossover top marks in each of the five areas tested.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Quite a few safety features come standard on the Acadia, with even more made available at higher trim levels or through the optional packages. Mechanical safety features include ABS, stability and traction control, and seven airbags: dual front, drive knee, front side, and side curtain. Every model also comes outfitted with a rearview camera, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, lane change alert, a teen driver system, and a rear-seat reminder. The Denali adds extra features to the standard list, such as a following distance indicator, forward collision avoidance tech, front park assist, lane keep assist and departure warning, auto high beam assist, and a safety alert seat. Within the available packages, buyers can also find a rearview camera mirror and a surround-view camera.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 GMC Acadia a good SUV?

The crossover market is an unquestionably competitive one, regardless of the specific segment you look at. In terms of midsize crossovers, the GMC Acadia has always struggled to stay abreast of the competition, with highly capable rivals like the Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, and Hyundai Palisade. It may be a bit more affordable, but the savings in initial cost simply aren't worth what you're giving up.

The Acadia is a bit smaller than your average midsize SUV, and while this gives it a bit of an edge when maneuvering around town, it has its downsides, too. The cabin simply isn't large enough to properly accommodate three rows of seats. And this is after you take into account that there is only 12.8 cubic feet of standard trunk space behind the third row!

At least the small cabin is well-appointed, with plenty of standard features, an easy-to-use infotainment suite, and high-quality materials, especially on the upper trims. But moving up the trim levels, the price quickly outweighs value, with many rivals offering similar or better for equal or less cost.

The GMC Acadia is a capable vehicle, with much going for it, but the changes made for the new year simply aren't enough to launch it into a commanding position within the segment. It may still be worth a look, and if you value a comfortable ride and space for seven above all else, it may still appeal to you... but there are better options out there.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 GMC Acadia?

While not falling into the luxury crossover segment, the Acadia is a little on the pricey side. At least, once you look past the extremely limited entry-level SL, which goes for $29,800. With a few more standard features, and plenty more available ones, the SLE feels confident charging $33,800, with a surcharge of $2,400 to add all-wheel-drive. The mid-tier SLT sits just below the $40k mark at $39,700, and passes it when you add the $2,000 AWD. Available only with all-wheel-drive, the new AT4 starts at $42,200, which is still quite a bit below the top-tier Denali's $46,300. Once again, opting for the all-wheel drivetrain adds $2,000 to the bill. These prices don't include tax, registration, licensing, or GMC's $1,195 handling fee.

2020 GMC Acadia Models

Five models in a variety of configurations comprise the GMC Acadia line-up for 2020. The SL and SLE come standard with a 193-hp four-cylinder engine, while the mid-tier SLT gets the new 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 230 hp and 258 lb-ft. A naturally aspirated V6 can be optioned onto the SLE and SLT, while it comes standard on the AT4 and Denali. Every engine comes mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and every trim, aside from the entry-level SL, offers an available all-wheel drivetrain. However, the AT4 comes standard with AWD.

Riding on 17-inch alloy wheels, the SL is the most basic trim on offer, but it still gets LED headlights and taillights. Inside, it comes upholstered in premium cloth and front passengers can adjust their seats in four directions. A second-row bench comes standard, and features include tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and cruise control. The safety suite comprises a rearview camera, rear park assist, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane change alert, while the infotainment suite centers around an eight-inch touchscreen programmed with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Six speakers make up the sound system.

With access to the all-wheel drivetrain and more engine options, the SLE also gets larger 18-inch wheels. The only notable change to the standard features list is SiriusXM. There are more changes on the SLT, though, which swaps out the second-row bench for captain's chairs, and installs a hands-free power liftgate and LED fog. Inside, it gets perforated leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, and remote engine start. The infotainment suite is expanded with HD radio and navigation, and the sound system is upgraded to an eight-speaker Bose set-up.

The AT4 reverts back to 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, and it gets darker exterior accents to make it stand out. Inside, it deletes the third-row seats completely and installs a cargo management system. It also gets a bespoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The top-of-the-range Denali gets the largest 20-inch Ultra Bright alloy wheels, as well as bright roof rails and heated auto-dimming exterior mirrors. Heating is added to the steering wheel and rear seats, too, and the front passenger gets an eight-way power seat. The driver-information display is enlarged to eight inches, and new assistance features are added, including front park assist, forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, and a safety alert seat.

See All 2020 GMC Acadia Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are a number of ways to customize your Acadia to suit your needs, assuming you opt for anything but the base-level SL trim, which can't be optioned with any additional features. The Driver Convenience Package ($1,750) is available to the SLE, adding an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, remote engine start, and a hands-free power liftgate. The Driver Alert Package II ($695 - $1,295) can be specced onto the SLT and AT4 to equip them with a safety alert seat, auto high beam assist, front park assist, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, and a head-up display. The Technology Package ($2,395) is for the Denali only, comprising a rearview camera mirror with washer, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, a head-up display, and enhanced automatic braking. Also for the all-wheel-drive Denali is the Ultimate Package ($5,645), equipping the top-tier trim with the Technology Package, the Trailering Package, adaptive ride control, and a dual-panel sunroof.

🚗What GMC Acadia Model Should I Buy?

Considering the changes to the Acadia for 2020, we'd suggest going for the model that best incorporates them while still offering decent value for money. The SLT seems to fit the bill in this regard. It is the first model to come standard with the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which delivers similar performance to the pricier V6, and it also gets enough comfort upgrades like leather upholstery and heated seats to ensure you feel that your money has been well-spent. Unfortunately, it lacks some of the safety features that many have come to expect as standard on their family SUVs, including forward collision avoidance, but these can be added on for less than it would take to upgrade to the top-tier Denali.

2020 GMC Acadia Comparisons

Chevrolet Traverse
GMC Terrain GMC
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
GMC Acadia193 hp21/27 mpg$29,800
Chevrolet Traverse 310 hp18/27 mpg$29,800
GMC Terrain 170 hp26/30 mpg$25,000

2020 GMC Acadia vs Chevrolet Traverse

Despite heralding from the same parent company, the GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse are by no means the same vehicle. Both crossovers share the same starting price, but the Traverse comes with a 310-hp V6 as standard, and it's quite a bit larger than the Acadia. This translates to significantly more cargo space, with 23 cubic feet behind the third-row seats. There is more overall seating, too, with eight appointments as standard inside the Traverse. Both crossovers are similarly accoutered in terms of features, although the top-tier Chevy is a bit pricier than its Denali cousin. Still, in terms of value for money, the Traverse seems to offer more utility at a similar or lower price, if you look at the more affordable models.

See Chevrolet Traverse Review

2020 GMC Acadia vs GMC Terrain

The smaller sibling to the Acadia, the GMC Terrain tries to be everything its big brother is, just in a smaller package. However, even for its smaller size, the base 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder doesn't feel powerful enough with only 170 hp and 203 lb-ft. The available 2.0-liter version is much better, though. Much like the Acadia, the Terrain places its focus on a comfortable ride rather than a fun drive, delivering similar comfort to the larger crossover. With a lower price tag (although it's still pricey), and better fuel economy, the Terrain certainly has appeal. Seating only five as standard, it offers 29.6 cubic feet of trunk space. This is quite a bit less than the Acadia in five-seater configuration, and is subpar for the compact segment, too. Neither crossover leads its segment, but the Acadia is more practical if you're looking for comfort and space.

See GMC Terrain Review

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$29,800 - $48,300
Price Range (MSRP)
GMC Acadia