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George Kennedy Contributor, GM-Trucks.com 7/14/2016 It seems like everything is going “biggie-biggie” these days. From Big Box Stores to massive iced coffees, everything has to get bigger to match our tastes. Cars, trucks, and SUVs are no different, with models growing every time they are redesigned. We automotive experts call this “generation bloat,” and it seems like it is inevitable when a new vehicle comes out. But GMC did the unthinkable when it redesigned the new 2017 Acadia SUV, and actually made it smaller. The second generation of GMC’s full-size (available) three-row crossover is 7 inches shorter, 3.5-inches narrower, and has a 6-inch shorter wheelbase. GM says this new footprint, which is based on the C1XX platform (which will underpin the new Cadillac XT5), is 740 pounds lighter than the outgoing model and has a tighter turning radius. Put it next to the first generation Acadia and it appears considerably smaller from the outside, but what it loses in size, it gains in style. The first-gen’s styling was inoffensive enough, but the Lambda-platform vehicles had rather bulbous styling–not exactly in line with the brawny “Professional Grade” image that GMC tries to portray. But the new-look Acadia has a well-defined visual character, with an upright grille and brooding headlights. Thankfully GMC left off the indented faux fender flares of the Terrain. Despite the smaller footprint, the Acadia retains a lot of its cabin space. You sit slightly closer to the passenger beside you, but first and second row passengers have plenty of head- and legroom. The Acadia is available as a 5-passenger (delete 3rd row), 7-passenger (3rd row with 2nd row captains chairs) or 8-passenger (2nd and 3rd row benches) configurations. The second row features GMC smart-slide seating. One handle, one motion slides seat forward for easy access to the 3rd row. GMC says customers asked for more usable space and lots of places to put things, so they delivered, with plenty of cupholders and pockets for all your gear and devices. The re-proportioned styling also resulted in improved visibility, so you’ll use the standard backup camera as an aid rather than a crutch. The weight loss also gave GMC room to employ technologies like lightweight sound deadening, contributing to a quieter cabin A GMC model would not be complete without a Denali trim, and the Acadia does not disappoint. True to form the Acadia Denali features 20-inch wheels, hands free power liftgate, and the usual slathering of chrome to the exterior. New for 2017 is the Acadia All-Terrain. For starters, it loses the 3rd row, resulting in 79 cu ft. of storage space. The chrome of the Denali replaced by black accents, for a more menacing look. But the real development of the All-Terrain is beneath the skin, there an Active Twin-Clutch AWD System transfers torque from front to rear or from left to right. Our sources at GMC say this model is targeted at Jeep Grand Cherokee customers and its capability seems to back that up. You won’t be crossing the Rubicon trail in one of these, but the AWD can get you to the ski loge, camp site or out on to the beach with ease. The Acadia delivers a ton of standard and available technology to you’re your life easier. The automatic rear lift-gate opens simply by having your keys in your pocket swinging foot under the rear bumper. This is crucial when you’re hands are fully of groceries and can’t reach your keys. GMC has also baked a whole host of new connectivity into the Acadia, highlighted by three new apps that are accessed via the large available touch screen. The first one is Glimpse, which allows users to send their location to friends. Other Glimpse users can see you on a map, which is very handy when picking up someone from a busy airport terminal. Next up is At Your Service, which is an OnStar-type app that lets you search local businesses and it will bring up relevant deals and coupons. Finally, there’s the Weather Channel app. Seems simple enough to have a weather app on your smartphone, but this app layers on top of navigation, and will give weather related warnings and adjust travel times accounting for the weather. The base engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 making 194 hp and 190 lb ft of torque. This engine features auto-stop-start and is good for 21 miles per gallon city, 25 highway, 23 combined (for AWD) The more powerful engine (and likely more popular choice) is the 3.6-liter V6, developing 310 hp and 272 lb ft. This engine has Active Fuel Management, which turns a V6 to a V4 when less power is needed. This engine returns fuel economy of 18 city, 25 highway, 20 combined (AWD). Power is sent through a 6-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels or available all-wheel drive. Acadia features Traction Select, which adjusts throttle response, transmission shift points, steering feel, and suspension stiffness (if equipped). You can chose from Sport, Snow, all-wheel drive, off-road, and trailer/tow drive modes, all with the push of a button. In Sport mode, the Acadia has brisk acceleration, but we found the 6 speed automatic sometimes had trouble deciding which gear to stay in. This could be chalked up to pre-production teething. Steering was well-weighted and the suspension was responsive, while still soaking up bumps in the road. An innovative feature is the available Tow Vision Camera. All models have the backup camera, but the Tow Vision Camera offers unique angles and guidelines perfectly suited for towing up to 4,000 lbs. (when equipped with V6 and towing package). The Acadia also has all of the latest advanced safety tech, including Lane Keep assist, front park assist, pedestrian detection, front auto braking, (low speed front auto braking) adaptive cruise, and forward collision alert. The 2017 Acadia is also equipped with Rear Seat Reminder: when you close doors and turn off car, there will be five reminders to look back into the rear seat. This is to prevent parents from leaving kids in the back seat on a hot day. This feature is defaulted on, but can be toggled off in the settings menu. Base MSRP for the 2017 GMC Acadia is $29,995 for the SL trim, $33,375 for the SLE-1, $39,275 for the SLT-1, and $45,845 for the Denali. The pricing suggests the Acadia wants to move upmarket in the large SUV space, and the svelte new look actually makes sense in the process. Acadia buyers seeking a premium vehicle with upscale features had more than enough space, but needed more luxury. The new Acada has that luxury in spades, and trims the fat, resulting in a stylish, well-equipped SUV with head-turning looks and a cabin that will be a pleasure to sit in for hours and hours of freeway or back road alike.