2020 GMC Acadia: More Engines, More Speeds, More Grille

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

As part of its 2020 model year refresh, GMC’s midsize Acadia crossover gains three engine options and three additional cogs for its automatic transmission. It also gains an AT4 variant — the brawny-lux GMC sub-brand introduced on the 2019 GMC Sierra pickup, though a modest suspension lift isn’t a part of this AT4’s package.

While the squared-off grille and newly blunt front end will no doubt be the first thing anyone notices about the 2020 Acadia, they’ll soon notice the top-flight Denali loses its standard V6 engine.

There’s a new engine in the Acadia roster: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, good for 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, per GMC’s estimates. The General’s truck brand claims it optimized the engine for low-speed torque delivery, with peak twist coming online at 1,500 rpm. Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) should improve the four-banger’s fuel economy in very low-load driving conditions.

Gone is the 3.6-liter V6 from the high-zoot Denali trim, replaced by the new 2.0L. Yes, this means the money-making Denali gets a power cut, as the V6 boasted 310 hp and 271 lb-ft. The 3.6L remains in the lineup, however, providing standard power for the AT4 trim, and GMC says customers can order it on other trim levels (further fattening the Denali’s thick profit margin). The 2.5-liter four-cylinder returns to motivate the entry-level SLE.

Managing the flow of power from all engines is a standard nine-speed automatic. This unit, found elsewhere in GM’s crossover stable, replaces a six-speed tranny that, while as unobtrusive as room temperature air, didn’t do much for the Acadia’s fuel economy or competitiveness. Also standard, mercifully, is a stop/start deactivation switch.

As before, customers can outfit their Acadia with five, six, or seven chairs, depending on trim, though they’ll notice something missing between the front seats: the shifter. Yes, like it or not, the 2020 Acadia opts for a push-button array. One benefit to this setup is greater console storage room.

Elsewhere in the Acadia’s cabin — which is far from a beauty queen contestant, in this writer’s mind — open-pore wood joins the Denali features roster (if you’ve ever seen the current generation’s wood trim, you know just how far GMC fell behind in the lumber department). Kudos to GMC for attempting to make the Acadia Denali look like it warrants its inflated price tag.

All 2020 Acadias gain an 8.0-inch touchscreen with improved image resolution and voice recognition, plus a simplified layout. The brand claims certain tasks will take fewer steps to complete.

Heading back outside, the Acadia’s new snout features Sierra-like C-shaped headlamps, with the revised rear fascia featuring a take on the C-shaped tail lights found on the smaller Terrain. There’s standard LED lighting all around.

While 18- or 20-inch wheels come standard on the Acadia’s various trims, the AT4 dons 17-inch hoops shod in all-terrain rubber. GMC’s twin-clutch all-wheel drive system complements the AT4’s take-me-anywhere-but-be-careful bodyside cladding and blacked-out grille. All Acadias see unspecified suspension refinements.

Other promises from GMC include a digital rear-vision camera on all but the SLE (it’s optional on that base trim) and a new rear camera mirror for Denali. Two new USB ports appear in the cabin, bringing their complement to five.

Expect to see the 2020 Acadia’s pricing released closer to its fall on-sale date.

[Images: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Feb 19, 2019

    GMC marketing team seems to be trying to get 2020 Acadia buyers to move up to the optional now V6 by detuning the 2.0T engine. Only the AT4 retains the V6 as the standard engine. I sure pricing will be higher across the board for the refresh 2020 models. I really like the new changes except the downgrade on the engine size.

  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Feb 19, 2019

    I'm holding judgement until I see how well the 8AT and 9AT transmissions hold up over time. Yes, that means no new GM for me in the next couple of years, at least.