It could have gone any of three ways. When we set the new and nimbler GMC Acadia against a driver’s car—the Mazda CX-9—against the stalwart Toyota Highlander, we ended up in a dogfight. All had their safeguards and their critics. What’s more, in normal Motor Trend judges’ way, the opinions were loud and passionate.

As it were, it transformed into a fight for second place in the wake of warmed verbal confrontations over first and third in light of the fact that, at last, each got at least one first place vote.

What’s more, it came down to our criteria on this one. The winner wasn’t only the most fun to drive; it must be the vehicle that best serves the purchaser in this portion. When you are discussing a family vehicle, how well you appreciate being a traveler is as essential as the bliss of the individual in the driver’s seat. Yes, drive performance matters, yet not to the expense of safety, comfort, or accommodation.

After many days of testing on a variety of surfaces and loops and a lot of smack talk among the panel, it was decision time.

Third Place: 2017 GMC Acadia AWD All Terrain

A large number of us were very brought with the new Acadia, which has dropped a size and weight class from the eight-traveler full-estimate family hauler it has been since its beginning.

For the 2017 model year GM tore the GMC show far from its intimate triplets. The Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave stay full-estimate vehicles, however the new Acadia leaves the family for a stage imparted to the new and littler Cadillac XT5. That implies seating for a maximum of seven travelers.


The most up to date trim, the All Terrain off-road version, evacuates the third line to make it an extensive five-traveler hybrid. The vehicle likewise sheds 740 pounds and is 7.2 inches shorter, 3.5 inches smaller, and 3.9 inches lower, bringing about right around 40 fewer cubic feet of cargo space.

The transformation led to discuss about whether the littler Acadia typifies ” professional review,” which is the DNA foundation of the GMC brand.

The “reasonable, exceptional plan shouts GMC to me and not ‘other Chevy,’ ” Christian Seabaugh said of our $47,115 AWD SLT-1 test vehicle. Scott Evans concurred. “At long last, the hybrid we’ve been approaching GM to work for quite a long time,” he said. “It’s done well, not to a cost.”


Some of our judges felt the reevaluation came up short by going littler and without a general professional review look and a top-review engine. It is an “item looking for a method of reasoning,” Angus MacKenzie said, calling it a move that may keep XT5 costs down yet does little to serve GMC clients needing a bigger hybrid. (GMC is keeping the old Acadia as a legacy vehicle for some time for the individuals who need the cordial full- size version.)

Our All Terrain display had a delectable butterscotch inside with coordinating dash stitching and an irregular shimmer grain trim, yet we wish GM would stop heading off to similar parts bin for the middle stack. There were also complaints about the guiding wheel catches feeling shoddy, and the safety belts are not tallness customizable and cut into the neck of a short driver.

We like the twin sunroofs and agreeable, pleasantly supported seats you can warm yet not cool. The Acadia is a three-push vehicle, however the All Terrain trim is for the individuals who know they don’t need the additional seating. Evacuating the third column makes a huge space for rearward sitting arrangement travelers and rigging, even with the back seats up, with a gigantic, profound capacity range, a secure circle, and an utility track framework to have the capacity to put other freight circles. There is additionally a 12-volt outlet, two little stockpiling cubbies under the payload floor at the back, and two progressively where the third-push seats would’ve been.

The second column has an overlap down armrest with cupholders and overlays level with the draw of a lever in the storage compartment to uncover an enormous, level load floor.


And GM merits praise for its back seat update framework that notes when something has been set in the rearward sitting arrangement, whether it is a youngster or an briefcase, and tolls to advise the driver to check before leaving the vehicle.

Although numbers of us favored the Acadia to the XT5, the GMC got blended surveys on its driving attributes. Being littler and lighter made the new Acadia more amusing to drive on a winding taking care obviously, and the suspension made a pleasant showing with regards to sopping up uneven surfaces, making it a decent street cruiser, also. There was little body move, decent directing, and a quiet cabin.

The All Terrain has a 3.6-liter V-6 with cylinder deactivation that produces 310 pull and 271 lb-ft of torque. Dropping chambers was imperceptible, and we were awed that a V-4 can control this family vehicle. Stop/begin is not accessible with the V-6; it is just on models with the 2.5-liter I-4 engine.

The V-6 displays ” lazy throttle reaction and sluggish transmission reaction,” MacKenzie, said, and it “surges when the novocaine wears off.” On hard speeding up, the transmission can waver, making for a jarred entrance ramp understanding.

Setting voyage control is simple, however keeping the set speed is definitely not. It doesn’t hold speed descending a slope and sets aside a long opportunity to come back to speed subsequent to backing off. The Acadia likewise does not have path revision innovation, which is turning out to be progressively basic in standard cars.

GM said the all-wheel-drive All Terrain was intended to contend with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, an elevated objective, yet it doesn’t claim to have the same rough terrain ability. It is to a greater extent a delicate 4×4 junkie to stop at the soccer field or get down the soil street to a cabin. So when we beat it up a bit on the rough terrain track, we should not have been astonished by a broken spoiler on the primary day. Still, it performed well and gave some fun minutes in profound sand. Furthermore, we preferred it better on uneven surfaces and over rock than the CX-9, which has a stiffer edge.

A major sore spot is the selectable AWD handle, which requires a weighty turn and hold to switch modes. The much more serious issue is you need to look down to affirm what has been chosen—there’s nothing in the driver data show to demonstrate the mode or decode the images on the handle. The main other alternative is setting off to the rough terrain menu. We predict proprietors stalling out in the snow their first winter since they neglected to switch into AWD or experienced difficulty discovering it.


2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain (SLT-1)2016 Mazda CX-9 (Signature)2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, AWDFront-engine, AWDFront-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE60-deg V-6 alum block/headsTurbocharged I-4 alum block/head60-deg V-6 alum block/heads
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cylDOHC, 4 valves/cylDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT222.7 cu in/3,649 cc151.8 cu in/2,488 cc210.9 cu in/3,456 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO11.5:110.5:110.8:1
POWER (SAE NET)310 hp @ 6,600 rpm*227 hp @ 5,000 rpm**295 hp @ 6,600 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)271 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm*310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
REDLINE7,200 rpm6,300 rpm6,750 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER13.9 lb/hp19.0 lb/hp15.4 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic6-speed automatic8-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO3.16:1/2.34:14.41:1/2.65:13.00:1/2.02:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll barStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll barStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO16.3:117.6:116.0:1
BRAKES, F; R12.6-in vented disc; 12.4-in vented disc, ABS12.6-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc, ABS12.9-in vented disc; 12.2-in disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R8.0 x 20 in cast aluminum8.5 x 20 in cast aluminum7.5 x 19 in cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R235/55R20 102H (M+S) Michelin Premier LTX255/50R20 104V (M+S) Falken Ziex CT50 A/S245/55R19 103T (M+S) Toyo A20 Open Country

Second Place: 2017 Toyota Highlander

Our judges tended to love or hate this one, with Jason Cammisa and Jonny Lieberman immovably planted in inverse camps—adept given the double way of this vehicle.

It is a restyled vehicle on a maturing stage, which brings about ride and taking care of “dulled to the point of torpidity” MacKenzie said. Be that as it may, it is fueled by one of the best V-6 engines in the fragment. It conveys both power and fuel proficiency regardless of the possibility that gets to the most elevated apparatus as quickly as time permits to do as such.


You can argue this is not a driver’s car and flounders on a taking care obviously, yet there is uniform regard for the 3.5-liter V-6 that creates 295 strength and 263 lb-ft of torque.

“Everything about the powertrain overflows smoothness,” Cammisa said. “The V-6 is completely vague out of gear and indiscernible in typical driving. Also, the transmission’s light-throttle movements are impeccably impalpable, as well. The car coasts off the line as though were fueled by an electric engine. The controlling feels like it’s helped with metal balls, and regardless of what you ask of it on the unpleasant go 4×4 romping course, the Highlander’s suspension declines to make a brutal commotion, hammer into its knock stops, or lose levelheadedness.”

High acclaim to be sure. Be that as it may, not shared by Lieberman, who said the poor ride quality is exasperated by the repulsive seats, and the slack directing constrained him to right it moving down the road at low speeds.


The agreement was some place in the middle. Driving the Highlander won’t prompt a toothy smile, however it is an agreeable cruiser with energy to pass and a tad bit of game prepared into the frame.

The Highlander felt heavier on the winding street; it required all the more guiding exertion and showing more body move than we would have loved. What’s more, the Toyo Open Country A20 tires were squealers.

Voyage control does not hold vehicle speed going downhill, and the path keeping and controlling help is unrefined, a drunken sailor framework that ricochets off one path marker then alternate instead of attempting to focus itself in the path.

In the looks department, it is also a split vote.

“At last a great looking Toyota,” Cammisa said. However, inside the conservatively macho inside flooded with dark, there is a ton of hard and shoddy plastic. It would appear that each specialist got the chance to plan and place a catch on the bustling focus comfort under the prolonged touchscreen, which feels like it is miles from the driver. “There is a genuine reach to get a radio station changed,” Mark Rechtin said. In any case, we adore the rack for telephones and different things that should be concealed, and in addition the tremendous focus cubby that swallows an extensive satchel.


Second-push travelers have loads of headroom, legroom, and foot room, great visibility, and a pleasant abundance of jacks, attachments, and USB ports. Unfortunately, the flip-up focus comfort with cupholders for back travelers “is the shiniest least expensive grained plastic I’ve seen this side of a rocking the bowling alley rear way,” Frank Markus said.

Getting to the third column is through a mechanical lean back and-slide unit, which gives a lot of room however is somewhat of a stage up for short legs. The seat is low and not adult-friendly.

However, the vehicle general shows genuine quality, and at last, we could see why this is second just to the Ford Explorer in prevalence in this section. It is hard not to suggest this child pulling, ordinary driving SUV.


2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain (SLT-1)2016 Mazda CX-9 (Signature)2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD
WHEELBASE112.5 in115.3 in109.8 in
TRACK, F/R64.5/64.5 in65.3/65.2 in64.4/64.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT193.6 x 75.4 x 66.0 in199.4 x 77.2 x 67.6 in192.5 x 75.8 x 68.1 in
GROUND CLEARANCE7.8 in8.8 in8.0 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE14.8/22.5 deg17.5/18.0 deg18.0/23.1 deg
TURNING CIRCLE38.7 ft38.8 ft38.7 ft
CURB WEIGHT4,305 lb4,317 lb4,551 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R57/43%55/45%55/45%
TOWING CAPACITY4,000 lb3,500 lb5,000 lb
HEADROOM, F/M/R40.0/39.6/— in39.3/38.5/35.4 in39.8/37.8/35.9 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R41.0/39.7/— in41.0/39.4/29.7 in44.2/38.4/27.7 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R59.4/58.7/— in57.9/58.1/53.1 in59.3/59.6/55.0 in
CARGO VOL BEH F/M/R79.0/41.7/— cu ft71.2/38.2/14.4 cu ft13.8/42.3/83.2 cu ft

First Place: 2016 Mazda CX-9 (Signature AWD)

Mazda’s reputation for being a driver’s car, whatever the size or body style, accompanies worked in desires. Such was the situation with the CX-9, particularly the $45,215 Signature AWD model we tested.

With its pretty looks all around, the CX-9 entered the race as the one to beat. What’s more, in spite of the fact that it proved to be the most enjoyable to drive on a taking care obviously or on the twisty parts of a street circle, it likewise implied that when we discovered imperfections, they appeared to have overstated stature.


“On the winding track, the Mazda was positively as exuberant as I anticipated that it would be,” Seabaugh said of the car that has dropped around 200 pounds to make it much simpler to hurl around with joy. “Incredible controlling feel. Incredible case. Quite damn useful for a family three-push hybrid.”

What’s more, that is with a 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4, the main four-banger in the gathering and a six-speed programmed transmission that keeps it in the meat of the power band, especially in Sport.

We found the AWD demonstrate huffed and puffed more than the lighter front-drive display, however the powertrain was smooth and gave enough low-end torque to emulate a diesel. Truth be told, it has more torque than its V-6 rivals at 310 lb-ft, yet there were times when the new engine appeared to experience the ill effects of conflicting force conveyance—warm douse seemed to influence turbo help—and the CX-9 didn’t convey the normal fuel productivity at 18.7/25.8/20.6 Real MPG city/parkway/consolidated when its EPA rating is 21/27/23 mpg. However, the CX-9 still beats the 16.9/24.4/19.6 Real MPG in city/interstate/consolidated driving for the Acadia and 15.8/23.9/18.6 Real MPG for the Highlander.

We appreciated the rev- matched downshifts exactly when the driver needs it. There are no oars—the CX-9 needn’t bother with them—however there were a few grievances about the lively controlling being a bit too substantial for what is basically a family vehicle. Also, the 18-inch haggle bundle on the front-drive demonstrate conveyed crisper taking care of and a more pleasant ride quality than the 20-inchers on the all-wheel-drive Signature. Indeed, even with an additional 53 pounds of sound stifling, it is not the calmest hybrid available.

The stiff suspension did not execute too on uneven surfaces, but rather the 4,317-pound hybrid got extraordinary air on a knock on our street circle. “Extraordinary hop execution—enormous hang time however delicate landing,” Cammisa said.


Journey control experienced no difficulty keeping up 55 mph going all over slopes. It utilized fourth rigging and the brakes to hold the speed under control. The CX-9 has a rendition of path keep help that does not keep the vehicle focused between the two lines but instead guides it into turns and cautions the driver to make a move in the event that they stray. In the event that no move is made, the framework will deactivate.

What’s more, there was one genuine imperfection: an over-passionate programmed slowing mechanism. Two or three us were moving up on a vehicle with a lot of room and time to stop yet were welcomed with a notice message, beep, and pummeling of the brakes that did not appear justified.

In any case, it was insufficient to reduce our general regard for Mazda’s capacity to make a seven-traveler family vehicle that is equivalent amounts of appealing and enjoyable to drive.

“Everything on this Mazda feels emphatically worked, from the bank-vault overwhelming ways to the enormous dash to the way the substantial seats overlay level,” Seabaugh said.

The cabin has an luxury feel with thick, buttery leather and superb wood trim that put alternate vehicles to disgrace. Be that as it may, it is recognizably short on capacity choices, and we advocate for more open electrical plugs and fittings. What’s more, the air-conditioning in the warmth.


There is an abundant second-push situate despite the fact that there is the dream of less headroom in view of the way the main event ascends in the front to oblige the sunroof that is just for the primary column. What’s more, many felt it offered the most agreeable third-push. “I could likely ride for 60 minutes or two back here,” Markus said. Be cautious opening the rear end: It’s low and does not have all the earmarks of being stature flexible

The way that the touchscreen just works when the car is halted renders it totally futile, as Cammisa would see it. Yet, he valued the rotational controller with a volume control next to it on the left half of the directing wheel. “Somebody is focusing,” he said.

An official conclusion: The CX-9 was not the grand slam we expected, but rather it’s the unmistakable champ in any case. It is still the most lovely to drive of the average size, mid-value three-push SUVs. It has exact guiding and skims from corner to corner, the tires come up short on ability before the undercarriage, and the transmission is pleasantly adjusted and offers rev-coordinated downshifts unequivocally when the driver needs it.

In short, it drives as well as it looks.


2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain (SLT-1)2016 Mazda CX-9 (Signature)2017 Toyota Highlander SE AWD
BASE PRICE$44,175$44,915$40,000 (est)
PRICE AS TESTED$47,465$45,215$42,000 (est)
AIRBAGSDual front, front side, front center, f/r curtainDual front, front side, f/r curtainDual front, front side, f/r curtain, front-pass thigh, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles3 yrs/36,000 miles3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles5 yrs/60,000 miles5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE5 yrs/100,0003 yrs/36,000 miles2 yrs/25,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY22.0 gal19.5 gal19.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON18/25/20 mpg21/27/23 mpg20/26/22 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY187/135 kW-hrs/100 miles160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles169/130 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.94 lb/mile0.83 lb/mile0.87 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB16.9/24.4/19.6 mpg18.7/25.8/21.3 mpg15.8/23.9/18.6 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regularUnleaded regularUnleaded regular

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