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Auto review: GMC Acadia AT4 befuddles, from the name to the features

Scott Sturgis, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

2020 GMC Acadia AWD AT4: No, that doesn't designate four-cylinder automatic; it means sporty all-wheel-drive ruggedness.

Price: $46,330 as tested. Trailer package added $650; black paint, $495; Driver Alert Package featuring forward collision, lane keeping, emergency braking, and front pedestrian braking, $695. More below.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the "strong V-6, smooth nine-speed transmission, versatile interior packaging, capable road manners" but not the "screwy newfangled shifter buttons, ruggedness largely is for show, not all active-safety tech is standard."

Marketer's pitch: "Built for families that go."

Reality: If I have to explain the acronym, that's not a good start.

What's new: The AT4 designation -- coming across the entire GMC lineup for 2021 -- struck me as automatic transmission four-cylinder. But, no, it indicates all-terrain capability, meaning better performance on mixed surfaces, thanks to a twin-clutch AWD system, all-terrain tires, and off-road mode.

 

The Acadia itself is also redone for 2020, with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine available, along with a 2.5-liter four or 3.6-liter six.

Up to speed: Acadia drivers will definitely not feel held back. The 3.6-liter V-6 engine in the test vehicle produced 310 horsepower and 271 pound-foot of torque and is standard on the AT4. Car and Driver expected a 6-second 0-to-60 time.

On the road: But General Motors needs to stop making vehicles so GM-y. It wasn't until the last day I had the Acadia that I realized what it recalls -- the long-ago Sturgis Family 1998 Pontiac Transport. And this has been my quibble with GM's midsize SUVs for a while now.

The Acadia offers a choice of drive modes -- two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, sport (which also uses all-wheel drive), and snow. The dial allows switching through modes at any speed.

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