While we were busy towing with the 2020 GMC Sierra HD up in the Grand Tetons in August, we were also able to spend some wheel time with the updated 2020 GMC Acadia. The mid-cycle refresh includes a wide variety of important changes, like the addition of the turbocharged 2.0L LSY I4 engine to the lineup, redesigned front and rear fascias, an updated interior, and the introduction of the Acadia AT4 off-road variant to the Acadia mid-size crossover.
It all seems promising, and we were pleased with our initial driving impressions, which we’ll share shortly. But during our time there, we had to ask an important question of GMC: was it a good move to downsize the Acadia?
What we’re referring to is the fact that, compared to the last-, first-generation model – the one that rode on the Lambda platform – the current GMC Acadia is a full size segment smaller than its processor, with its overall length reduced from 200.8 inches to 193.6 inches and width dropping from 78.9 inches to 75.4 inches. The reduction in the exterior footprint also results in a decrease in interior space, along with a 700 pound reduction in weight, thanks in part to its reduced size and also by the move to the weight-efficient C1 architecture.
When compared to its C1 platform stablemates – the full-size Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave – the Acadia now sits squarely in the midsize segment, just above the compact GMC Terrain. The shrinkage allows it to better compete against other midsize crossover SUVs like the Honda Passport, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Hyundai Santa Fe, not to mention the Acadia’ own corporate cousin – the new Chevrolet Blazer. But unlike some of those models, the current, second-generation Acadia offers a third row of seats on most models, giving it an advantage over its two-row rivals.
We asked Mark Alger, national marketing manager at GMC Canada, if the Acadia’s shrinkage had a negative impact on its sales.
“We don’t believe the downsizing has impacted Acadia negatively. Acadia sales have remained steady even with its new size. We admit it was a bold move, and yes, some consumers may have flocked elsewhere for something larger. But we also attracted a new type of consumer into a GMC showroom along the way. We also believe the Acadia’s slightly smaller dimensions helps the GMC brand further distinguish itself from Chevrolet and Buick.”
Sales Results - USA - Acadia
Sales have remained steady, indeed: when it was first introduced in 2007, GMC shipped 72,765 Acadias in the U.S. alone. In 2018, that number climbed to 88,622 units. Even more interesting is the fact that the Acadia’s best-selling year was in 2017 when the smaller, second-generation model was introduced, with 111,276 units sold in the U.S.
But that’s not without an asterisk. You see, GMC offered two Acadias in 2017: the smaller, all-new model, and the outgoing, last-generation, full-size model as the Acadia Limited. Production of the full-size, first-gen Acadia (Acadia Limited) ended at the end of March 2017. So it would only make sense that sales volume of two models produced at two different plants would be greater than one.
Sales Results - Canada - Acadia
The GM Authority Take
GM took quite a gamble by shrinking the GMC Acadia and repositioning it into a different segment. But the bet paid off, and GMC Acadia sales remain healthy despite very strong Asian and American competition. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that the GMC brand still doesn’t offer a full-size crossover along the lines of the Chevrolet Traverse or Buick Enclave. In this day and age, where the crossover – and not the sedan – reigns supreme in the mainstream automotive market place, we feel that a carmaker can’t have enough utilities – be they CUVs or SUVs – in its lineup. In that regard, a full-size crossover larger than the Acadia might be in the cards for GMC, but a sub-compact model below the Acadia seems to be out of the question.