New for 2020: For the 2020 model year, GMC has fired several visual and content updates at the Acadia. They’ve also baptized a version of the new AT4 sub-brand in an effort to ratchet up its visual appeal. The Acadia AT4 looks like it can tackle Moab at a moment’s notice.

Eagle-eyed spotters will instantly recognize the newly refreshed front and rear fascia of the 2020 GMC Acadia. The new set of rectangular headlamps incorporate the brand’s signature c-shaped lighting design. New 18- and 20-inch wheel designs appear on the 2020 MY. Side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and a hands-free power liftgate on the snazzier trims are also new additions.

Under that broad and flat hood is one of three engines.  A new 2.0-liter turbo, a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline four, or a healthy 3.6-liter V6 mill. Also, a new 9-speed automatic replaces the previous 6-speed unit. It helps goose acceleration and improve fuel efficiency.

Inside, the old baseball bat of a shift lever has vanished, replaced with an electronic shifter to free up space in the center console. GM has given the infotainment system a rethink as well. It now features an 8-inch screen and the ability to tailor the thing to individual driver profiles. Wireless charging is available, as is a new rear camera mirror and a digital high-def backup cam that vanquishes the old potato image.

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A heads-up display is on the options list as well. Though, it will have ‘late availability’ as of early in the 2020 calendar year. The addition of USB-C ports helps futureproof the interior, at least as far as device connectivity is concerned. That brings the number of ports in the Acadia to five, including a USB-A charging port for the third-row seating area.

Built at the old Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the 2020 GMC Acadia is on sale now.

GMC Acadia Powertrain

There are three engines available in the 2020 GMC Acadia. Kicking things off is the miserable uninspired 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four, making 193 hp and just 188lb.-ft of torque. Keep in mind this is a vehicle with a very square profile and a 4000lb curb weight. Next in the pecking order is a new-for-2020 2.0-liter turbocharged four, cranking our 230 horsepower and 258lb.-ft of twist. Finally, a healthy 3.6-liter V6 is available, rated at a satisfying 310 ponies and 271lb.-ft torques. All three engines come mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission which, for some delightful throwback reason, GM calls the ‘Hydro-Matic’.

Read More GMC Acadia Review

GMC Acadia Fuel Economy

As one would expect, the selection of engine size and the number of driven wheels will greatly affect the fuel economy returned by a 2020 GMC Acadia. The 2.0-liter turbo with front-wheel drive is the most efficient of the lot and returns 21/28/24mpg in city/hwy/according to EPA. Adding all-wheel drive scuppers the highway and combined rating by 1mpg each.

The lackluster 2.5-liter inline-four, available only with front-wheel drive, is rated exactly the same as the all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter turbo. It makes one wonder the point of even offering this combo. Finally, the 3.6L V6 earns a 19/27/22mpg score with front-wheel drive The AWD knocks 1mpg off the city and combined rating while the highway estimate suffers a 2mpg knock.

GMC Acadia Features and Pricing

Acadia SL: Starts at $30,995

The entry-level SL is only available in front-wheel drive and is one of the two trims offering the 2.5-liter four-banger. Despite the low-horse engine, the SL has a raft of standard features including the good 8-inch infotainment system and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. Safety kit such as lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist is standard as well.

Acadia SLE: Starts at $34,995

Likely the volume trim, SLE comes with the 2.5-liter as standard but buyers can upgrade to the V6 for $1095. They should do so without hesitation. All-wheel drive is optional here, starting at $37,395 for the 2.0-liter turbo and $37,890 with the V6. Extra equipment found on optional packages that may be layered on the SLE includes items like an eight-way power driver’s seat, rear climate controls, and snazzy 18-inch wheels.

Acadia SLT: Starts at $40,895

Exchanging an ‘E’ for a ‘T’ on the 2020 Acadia does not change the available powertrain combinations. It does, however, ratchet up the level of available equipment. Front-drive V6s sticker at $41,390 with all-wheel drive being a $2000 addition. Previously optional equipment like a 120v outlet become standard kit, along with middle-row bucket seats and a Bose 8-speaker sound system.

Acadia AT4: Starts at $43,395

The AT4 trim, cast in an off-road image, is only available with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive. In a twist, seating for five is standard but upgrading it can do to 6 or 7 chairs at little or no cost. Exclusive 17-inch gloss-black wheels with all-terrain tires ratchet up the visual drama. They are complemented by unique blacked-out exterior trim and a smattering of interior flash. A twin-clutch AWD system which is essentially an electronically controlled differential capable of splitting the power between axles and laterally to the wheels is also standard to the AT4.

Acadia Denali: Starts at $47,495

GMC’s long-running Denali sub-brand pops up on the Acadia and is, in fact, given its own space on the brand’s build-and price page. The 3.6-liter V6 is offered as standard on the Denali. It also features snazzy leather seats, a unique reconfigurable driver information screen, and Denali-specific exterior trim.

GMC Acadia Recommended Trim

Given its standard V6 and all-wheel drive, the AT4 trim is your author’s pick of the litter. In fact, the AT4’s traction system is specially tuned for off-road and multi-terrain environments. Its murdered-out style also looks the business and is available in a variety of colors, including a dandy Red Mahogany Metallic.

 

GMC Acadia vs Hyundai Palisade

The new three-row rig from Korea features a stunning interior, especially on top-tier trims. Plus, the brand’s legendary reputation for offering more features than expected is a big plus in the Korean’s favor. The Palisade sets an opening bid of $31,775 for a well-equipped SE before climbing to a still-reasonable $44,925 in high-zoot Limited trim. At that level, one can be expected to be coddled by buttery Nappa leather and experience an enormous 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen.

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Read More Hyundai Palisade Review

GMC Acadia vs Nissan Pathfinder

Settling in as Nissan’s volume three-row offering, the Pathfinder is offered with one engine choice in the form of a 284 horsepower 3.5L V6. Fuel economy is aided by the CVT gearbox, checking in at 19mpg and 26mpg on city and highway cycles respectively. However, the GMC’s nine-speed transmission lends itself to an infinitely more pleasant audible experience, avoiding the trademark drone of infinite ratio transmissions. Pricing is generally less dear than the Acadia, starting at $31,680 for a 2WD base S trim and topping out at $44,610 for a Platinum 4WD model.

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Read More Nissan Pathfinder Review

GMC Acadia vs Mazda CX-9

Occupying the sporty-looking end of the spectrum is the Mazda CX-9, available in a myriad of front- and all-wheel drive trims ranging from $33,890 to $46,215. Its 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder is good for 250 horsepower and fuel economy reaches 26mpg on the highway. That latter figure would probably be higher if Mazda ditched the six-speed automatic transmission for something with a few more cogs. Still, there’s no doubt the CX-9 is the fashionista of this group.

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Read More Mazda CX-9 Review

Detailed Specs

Price Range / $30,995 - $49,495
Engine / 2.5-liter inline 4 / 2.0L turbocharged inline 4 / 3.6L V6
Power (hp) / 193 / 230 / 310
Torque (lb-ft) / 188 / 258 / 271
Fuel Economy (mpg) / 21/28/24 / 19/27/22
Drivetrain / 9-speed automatic/ FWD / AWD

Our Final Verdict

New style and an aggressive-looking AT4 trim breathes new life into GMC’s big people hauler. The addition of a modern turbocharged engine doesn’t hurt its appeal in terms of fuel economy but, as always, we prefer the V6 option with more power. Balancing cost with feature count is key with the Acadia, as its sticker price can easily rocket to $50,000.