With up to 4,000 pounds in towing capacity and the ability to seat seven people, the GMC Acadia is a popular pick for growing families.
With so much seating and cargo configurability, this SUV is a versatile one. But which model years are the best, and which should you avoid?
What Are The Best Years For The GMC Acadia?
The 2015 GMC Acadia normally lists between $20,000 to $32,000 and is, therefore, an affordable third-row SUV option for larger families. It has strong crash test and reliability ratings, and it offers plenty of seating and cargo configurations for expanding families.
The 2015 GMC Acadia is a safe choice as far as newer models go. It is old enough to show strong reliability ratings yet new enough to have desirable tech and safety features equipped.
It was made for families and can fit three or four car seats if needed.
Exactly which features make the 2015 Acadia a stand-out performer? Are there older Acadias that will suffice? And which models should you avoid? Read on to find out.
Acadia Model Years to Avoid
Let’s just get straight to the point here: Avoid the 2008 GMC Acadia.
It will bleed you dry of your money with numerous problems. According to consumers, the 2008 Acadia is riddled with transmission issues.
In the entirety of the Acadia’s existence, transmission issues are undoubtedly its biggest problem. And the 2008 model year makes up the bulk of the complaints.
Most buyers who complained of transmission issues had to replace the transmission, which can be a $3,000 job (give or take a few hundred dollars for labor, as this is a labor-intense job).
A few buyers had to replace the torque converter. Also, many of these reporting buyers only drove the ’08 Acadia for a few weeks after purchasing it before the transmission failed on them.
Engine problems are the second most commonly reported issue. This list of problems includes the engine shutting off while driving, running sluggishly, the timing chain failing, unexpected stopping, a rattling noise, and inexplicable acceleration.
NHTSA complaints also mention engine cooling and vehicle speed control as experiencing problems. Quite a few of these are costly to repair if they are even fix-able.
As of right now, the 2008 Acadia has five recalls out on it.
The recalls are for failing liftgates that cause the liftgate to fall, failure of side-impact airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners to deploy, short-circuiting of the heated windshield washer module, the heated wiper washing system causing an increased risk of fire, and the windshield wipers failing to operate under snow or icefall.
And that’s not to mention the two investigations made into this Acadia. NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) has investigated the 2008 Acadia for non-crash engine compartment fires (for which GM put out the circuit board recall for the heated washer system) and loss of headlamp illumination (which was closed by NHTSA).
The Best Acadia Model Years
The 2015 GMC Acadia is probably one of the best model years you will come across. Its five-year projected cost totals $27,100, or about $5,400 per year (considering repairs, maintenance, insurance, and fuel).
This is just slightly above average for a third-row SUV but is typical of an Acadia. The 2015 model is still slightly bigger than the most recent ones, and the cargo space it offers is undeniably attractive for families who like to go camping or have kids who play sports.
You can even get cargo area audio controls on the SLT-2 and Denali trim levels.
The 2015 Acadia might feel underpowered (as most Acadias unfortunately do), but it still delivers a smooth ride quality.
Other body-on-frame SUVs drive very truck-ish because of their build, but the Acadia is comfortable on broken asphalt and on the highway.
For the price, it is a well-equipped vehicle, and its towing capacity of 5,200 pounds is a bit better than average for its segment.
Out of all the trim levels available (the basic SLE, SLT and Denali, then the sub-trims known as the SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1 and SLT-2 trims), the line-topping Denali is undoubtedly the most popular.
It borders on luxury status. GM equips it with unique interior and exterior styling cues, huge 20-inch wheels done in chrome, a panoramic sunroof, enhanced sound insulation, built-in navigation, and wood trim on the steering wheel.
A Brief History of the Acadia
The GMC Acadia hit the market for the 2007 model year. It served as a replacement for the GMC Safari minivan, Pontiac Montana SV6 minivan, and the GMC Envoy.
It was GMC’s first foray into unibody SUVs, as well as their first front-wheel-drive brand to be manufactured.
The second generation was launched in 2017, but the first generation was still sold for a short time after as the Acadia Limited.
Be careful of the “Limited” labeling when buying a used Acadia, since a 2017 Acadia Limited is not a second-generation Acadia, and you aren’t getting as good of a deal.
The second generation of Acadias is noticeably smaller than the first. The first-gen was a legit full-size crossover SUV, but the second-gen drops down to a mid-size. There are options for second-row-only models in this generation, just in case you do not need that third row.
These models are 7 inches shorter and 740 pounds lighter than the first-gen Acadias, which lends to some aerodynamic capability.
They’re more maneuverable, and with the V6 equipped (a 4-cylinder option does exist and is powerful enough), makes for a pleasant enough ride.
The Acadia’s More Recent Years
The newer Acadias are witnessing a lot of changes. For 2021, the Acadia gets the Elevation Edition with its black wheels and exterior trim and wireless smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Newer Acadias boast that refined ride quality, as well as quick acceleration from the V6 engine, a user-oriented cabin design, and a lot of contemporary onboard technology. Unfortunately, the cabins lack a feeling of luxury, and third-row and cabin space feel diminished compared to some of the Acadia’s top rivals (and the first generation).
Best And Worst Years GMC Acadia
If you are dead-set on getting a GMC Acadia, consider going for the 2015.
It has the first-generation’s size benefit, is relatively affordable, and does not have nearly as many transmission and engine complaints as the 2008.
Second-gen Acadia models are good vehicles, but they lack the space offered by their preceding generation. You will also be paying quite a bit more for them.