While the vast majority of SUVs never see anything more adventurous than a gravel driveway, part of their appeal is that you could venture a lot farther off pavement… if you wanted to. And of course looking the part is an even bigger piece of the package. Well, GMC has you covered, with a new Acadia where that rugged look shines.
On sale for 3-years now, it’s time for the 2nd generation GMC Acadia to get some updates. And while they were at it, they decided to toughen up its image a bit with this new 2020 GMC Acadia AT4.
If you’re familiar with the GMC Sierra AT4, you’ll remember it’s a beefed up version of the Sierra 1/2–ton pickup with some substantial off road chops; thanks to a suspension lift, locking diffs, Rancho monotube shocks, and protective skid plates.
Well, unfortunately none of that applies to this Acadia AT4. This is mostly just a trim package that consists of unique grille, black chrome accents, and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, though nice looking 20s are optional.
It comes with the V6 only, as neither of the Acadia’s 4-cylinders are available here. But, the 3.6-liter would be our choice anyway, with its 310-horsepower and 271 lb-ft. of torque, it’s more than up for the job of moving this 4,000-lbs. plus utility around.
Naturally, all-wheel-drive is standard. It’s GMC’s latest automatic twin-clutch system that includes a dedicated off-road mode, as well as tow/haul, and the ability to lock it into two-wheel-drive.
The new part of the powertrain for all 2020 Acadia’s, is a 9-speed automatic transmission; and with it, the removal of the console shifter, replaced by a row of buttons at the base of the center stack.
The 3-additional gears certainly help the acceleration cause. At our test track, we got to 60 a half second quicker than before, at a fine 6.3-seconds.
It doesn’t feel overly torquey at launch; but that, as well as all-wheel-drive, helps you get away cleanly; and the power really starts to pour on as the revs climb. As you’d expect, gear changes happen early and often; but they’re both quick and smooth. Our best ¼-mile pass was 14.8-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. Again, about a half a second quicker than a V6 Acadia with the 6-speed.
More sidewall flex, and the all-terrain compound of the tires, result in a slight downgrade in handling; but nothing that would give us pause. It mainly presents itself by turning in a little slower, and loosening up the back end a bit. Steering is very tight and direct, so we had no problem staying on top of it.
Stopping distance was actually less than what we had achieved before, at 111-feet from 60; good pedal feel, and great stability throughout.
For customers not interested in the AT4’s macho makeover; there’s other Acadia news for 2020.
All trims get their own unique styling tweaks, there’s a new 230–horsepower I4 turbo engine available, and the infotainment system gets an uprade to become more user-friendly, including easier to use navigation and higher resolution for the back-up camera display.
Other tech upgrades include a new Head-Up display, and GM’s rear camera mirror.
Save for some AT4 logos, not much else changes inside. You can outfit your AT4 with either 5,6, or 7-passenger capacity; our test rig stuck with the standard 2 rows of seating with a rear bench for three. Plenty of space for those passengers; and the split bench both slides and reclines.
Lots of big, traditional controls remain; and while we mourn the loss of the console shifter, it’s removal has created some welcomed additional storage space.
Gauges are a fairly traditional twin-dial setup with just a small info screen; but everything is clear and easy to monitor at a glance.
Cargo capacity remains unchanged, and is about average for the segment, at 41.7 cubic-ft.; expanding to 79.0 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 25-Highway, and 21-Combined; our average, just about spot on, at 21.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular grade.
At $42,495, AT4 pricing is almost exactly the same as an SLT with the V6; which is about 10-grand over a base 4-cylinder Acadia, but still much less than top Denali trim.
So, the 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 may not be the serious off-road machine that some of us may have wanted, but it’s also not priced like one; it’s simply a new rugged-looking, yet attractive Acadia option that comes with little to no compromise.
Engine: 3.6 liter
Torque: 271 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway