The GMC Acadia may have been updated for 2020 with bolder styling inspired by GMC’s big trucks, but it’s still very much a crossover. The $30,995 midsize SUV shares a front-wheel-drive platform with the similarly-sized Cadillac XT6 and Chevrolet Blazer that’s primarily aimed at on-road performance.
Along with a bigger, boxier grille, the midsize Acadia now offers a selection of three engines across the model lineup that adds a 230 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to the previous edition’s 193 hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 310 hp 3.6-liter V6, the latter two available with all-wheel-drive.
They’re all matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission that’s controlled by a pushbutton gear selector on a redesigned dashboard. It works well as long as you don’t try to use it to change gears with your outstretched arm and index finger while driving down a bumpy road, which one Acadia model is capable of doing pretty well.
The Acadia AT4 starts at $43,395 and is the latest edition to GMC’s growing AT4 sub-brand, which signifies All Terrain and Four-Wheel-Drive. Along with a set of 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires it gets the V6 engine, blacked-out trim, AT4 logos and underfloor storage in the very large cargo area that can be replaced with a third row of seats. (Even if it’s not, you still get cupholders back there.)
The changes give the Acadia AT4 a very tough look, but with just 7.2 inches of ground clearance it comes up short as a rock-crawling off-roader like some Jeep Grand Cherokees are. Nevertheless, the fat tires are unflustered by deep ruts and the Acadia AT4 feels stiff as a steel girder when you hit them.
Potholed city streets don’t stand a chance, yet the ride remains well-mannered and just about perfect on smooth pavement where there is surprisingly little noise from the chunky treads. Unique among Acadias, the AT4 also features a torque-vectoring rear differential that uses clutches to direct power to the outside wheel in a curve and helps rotate the vehicle nicely on slippery stuff. Its maximum tow rating checks in at 4,000 pounds.
While the AT4 can be equipped with automatic emergency brakes, a blind-spot warning system, parking sensors and a seat that vibrates so you can mute all of the beeps that the safety systems would otherwise generate, radar adaptive cruise control is reserved for the top of the line, luxurious Denali trim.
That’s unfortunate because the AT4 is an otherwise great all-around, if not truly all-terrain vehicle.
2020 GMC Acadia AT4
Base price: $43,995
Type: 5 to 7-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel-drive SUV
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Power: 310 hp, 271 lb-ft torque
MPG: 18 city/25 hwy
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