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Does The 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain Live Up to Its Name?

It certainly looks the part.

What does “All Terrain” mean exactly? Well, for GMC it signifies enhanced off-road capability, less chrome and an overall aggressive stature. I should know, I own a GMC Sierra All Terrain and I love it for all reasons previously mentioned. So when I saw the 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain pull up in my driveway, I was instantly skeptical that a crossover could live up to the moniker I had so much invested into.

Menacing., Evan Yates

Aesthetically, the 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain certainly looks the part. Unlike it’s blinged-out sibling, the Denali, there’s virtually no shiny chrome anywhere to be found. The grille and main accent trim piece on the bumper is more of a black satin which emits a bit of shine while remaining as menacing as possible. The headlight housings are also blacked-out and wrap around the fender in an attractive manner. The 20-inch wheels are silver and graphite which look pretty good. However, I wondered if an all-black wheel would have looked better for this application. Moving along to the side of vehicle, for the All Terrain model exclusively, GMC added a black plastic cladding similar to the old Chevy Avalanche. Although I imagine they did this to not only make it appear rugged but to also possibly protect the vehicle from debris, it looks a bit cheap for a near $50,000 vehicle. 

Evan Yates

In regards to dimensions, GMC gambled and won big by actually making the 2017 Acadia considerably smaller than the previous model. Around six inches shorter and 700 pounds lighter, to be exact. Certainly a bold move on GMC’s part and I applaud them for it because it makes the Acadia livable on a daily basis. 

Peanut butter., Evan Yates

On the inside, I appreciated the saddle brown (GM calls it Kalahari) interior as it goes well with the theme especially here in Georgia because the dirt is basically the same color. I enjoyed the All Terrain embroidery on the headrests and applaud the use of perforation and piping on the seats, as well. The front seats are heated but not cooled which to me isn’t a big deal but for the price, it may be a problem.

Plenty of room in the rear., Evan Yates

Because this is the All Terrain model, GMC ditched the third row seat and thank goodness they did. This results in a full-size second row that you can fit three adults in pretty comfortably, tons of cargo space out back and even less weight overall. The rest of the interior is pretty basic with the typical plastics here and there. Not that I expected a lot but if you want to compete in the crossover segment, I think the dash, steering wheel and door panels need something extra. My only real gripe about the interior is the odd sunshades for the dual sunroofs. I understand why they couldn’t have the traditional shade but the mechanism itself is finicky at best. 


Driving the 2017 Acadia All Terrain on a daily basis during typical commutes is not only easy but invigorating at times. A big part of the enjoyment is the all-new 3.6L V6 that pumps out a hefty 310hp. The Acadia is also fairly nimble around corners and overall feels light and nimble. I’m sure this can attribute back to the new, smaller size and weight savings. The downsizing was such a good idea because who needs a big ass crossover? Just buy a Yukon!

Evan Yates

So is this this thing genuinely capable of traversing ALL terrains? Let’s break it down. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines terrain simply as a “geographic area” or “piece of land.” That’s no help. This handy-dandy list of terrain types was pretty interesting, too. However, no vehicles would make it past all of those terrain types so that’s useless, too. And if you want to get super literal, an ALL TERRAIN VEHICLE is actually an ATV, which just makes this even more confusing.


I decided to lean on the world of tire manufacturing as it seems they have the best handle on what All Terrain truly entails. Below are a few quotes from leading tire manufactures on tires that fit the description:

Continental (TerrainContact A/T)

“The ideal all-terrain tire for CUV, SUV and Light Trucks with the durability to conquer dirt, gravel and grass while providing a quiet, comfortable ride on pavement. This tire strikes the perfect balance between off-road traction and on-road manners.”

Toyo (Open Country A/T)

“This versatile all-terrain tire offers excellent traction and tread life along with a blatantly aggressive tread design and quiet ride.”

Nitto (Terra Grappler G2)

“The Terra Grappler G2 is Nitto’s next generation all-terrain light truck tire specifically designed to meet your everyday on and off-road adventures. Whether you’re commuting to work, towing a trailer or headed up to your favorite mountain trail; the balanced off-road and on-road performance of the Terra Grappler G2 will get you to your destination.”


So with all that extra information in mind, we can conclude that All Terrain simply denotes having a modest balance between on-road performance and off-road capability. So how does the 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain stack up in those terms? 

The 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain does quite well off the beaten path. I took it to a trail full of loose dirty, considerable dips and deep rivets. If only it had been raining, this test could have been a little more interesting. With the drive selector dialed into the All Terrain setting, which activates the twin-clutch, all-wheel-drive system that automatically transfers power where required, not once did I have wheel spin or felt as if I were in a jam. With the power under the hood and the technologically-advanced transmission, it would be pretty difficult to get stuck. 

Evan Yates

However, this particular vehicle is missing a couple key components that would have truly made the Acadia capable: bigger tires and additional ground clearance. I understand that it makes more sense for GMC to do a bigger wheel and thinner tire and keep the ride height the same as the rest of the models because this is a road car before anything and it just looks better. But without some additional rubber and/or distance between the undercarriage and the dirt, getting into trouble while testing the vehicle’s capabilities is highly-possible. Tearing out your radiator or clipping an important hose on a rock can end a fun day of trail riding quickly.

Regardless, the 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain genuinely lives up to its distinction and can wear that red badge with pride along with those behind the wheel. 

Evan Yates

2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain

PRICE (AS TESTED): $47,465.00

POWERTRAIN: 3.6-liter V6; Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic, front-wheel or all-wheel drive