2020 GMC Acadia AT4 front

The 2020 GMC Acadia's midlife freshening introduces an additional engine choice, a nine-speed automatic transmission, updates to the SUV’s appearance, added convenient features, and infotainment system upgrades.

Competition has been fierce in the luxury midsized SUV category, and these changes aim to keep the Acadia relevant to those who are shopping around.

The trim levels include SLE, SLT, Denali, and the new AT4, distinguished by off-road-inspired styling cues and a black grille.

The Tennessee-built 2020 GMC Acadia goes on sale in the fall. Here is what we know so far. 

What it competes with: Acura MDX, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Lexus RX L
What it looks like: Resembles the new full-sized GMC pickup trucks, with a grille that looks like an electric shaver.
Powertrains: 193-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder; 230-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder; 310-hp, 3.6-liter V6; nine-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive.
On-sale date: Fall 2019. 

Outside

The 2020 Acadia gets a fresh face, with a new grille, front end, and C-shaped daytime running lights pattern—changes that keep the Acadia’s appearance in synch with the latest GMC Sierra pickup trucks. Depending on which trim shoppers choose, there are new wheel designs, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and a power liftgate.  

2020 GMC Acadia Denali interior

Inside

The cabin showcases a redesigned center console that promises more storage space, and the high-level Denali trim gets a unique color scheme and premium open-pore wood accents. As an option, the rearview mirror can be replaced with a similarly shaped display that shows a video feed from an exterior camera. This allows drivers to see behind the vehicle, without passenger heads or cargo in the way.

more on suvs

The latest GMC infotainment system with an 8-inch screen takes center stage. New for 2020, it allows drivers to configure a personal profile to save preferences for audio, climate, and navigation features. These profiles can be assigned to specific key fobs, allowing each driver in the household to have their own automatic setup, and enabling the SUV to automatically configure to the driver upon entry.

Unfortunately, the Acadia also gets a push-button gear selector, where a pull or push is used to pick a gear. This is similar to the system in the GMC Terrain, which we found to be a nuisance to use, particularly during parking maneuvers.

There are now five USB ports, including two phone-friendly USB-C ports, to keep devices charged. A wireless phone charging pad is optional.

The navigation function offers real-time traffic updates and predictive functions to provide better-informed routing. A head-up display will be available later in the 2020 model year. 

What Drives It

The Acadia remains available with a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.6-liter V6, which we found smooth and quick in our tests. Between those choices, GMC is now offering a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All three engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, supplanting the six-speed unit used in 2019.

The current six-cylinder engine returned just 19 mpg in our tests. The new nine-speed automatic is likely to improve on that. The turbo promises further improvement.

Another GM SUV, the Cadillac XT4, gives us a taste of how the Acadia may perform. We are currently testing an XT4 with a similar turbo engine and a nine-speed transmission. The XT4 is quick, without the hesitation commonly seen with turbo engines, and the shifts are smooth. 

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

As in 2019 models, the updated Acadia does not have standard forward collision warning, automatic braking, pedestrian detection, or blind spot warning. These features, recommended by Consumer Reports, will be available in optional packages along with rear cross traffic warning and park assist features. GMC advises that there are no changes to the availability of these systems.  

CR’s Take

The GMC Acadia is a compelling alternative to larger SUVs, and it’s quiet, roomy, and family-friendly. However, it has come up short in fuel economy, standard safety gear, and value in our experience.

Most of the 2020 updates should amount to improvements, but we are disappointed that key advanced safety features are still not standard equipment. We are eager to see how the Acadia performs with its new turbo engine, especially in the fuel-economy arena. 

2020 GMC Acadia AT4 rear