What to Look Out for When Buying a Used GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali

The GMC Acadia is a midsize crossover SUV that used to be a full-size model until it shrunk a little in 2017 with the arrival of the second generation. The Acadia still has three rows of seats and can accommodate up to seven people, and it sort of straddles the gap that exists between luxury and mass-market models. If you’re in the market for a vehicle of this type, here’s what you need to know and look out for when buying a used GMC Acadia.

  • GMC Acadia history
  • First-generation GMC Acadia
  • Second-generation GMC Acadia
  • How much should you pay for a used GMC Acadia?
  • What’s special about the GMC Acadia?
  • Potential issues to watch out for
  • GMC Acadia rivals worth considering
  • GMC Acadia FAQs
  • Should you buy a used GMC Acadia?

GMC Acadia History

The Acadia arrived in 2006 as a 2007 model year as a replacement for three of the 7- or 8-seater vehicles in the Pontiac–Buick–GMC dealership network at the time, which were the midsize GMC Safari minivan, the GMC Envoy, and the Pontiac Montana SV6 minivan. The Acadia was the first unibody vehicle produced by GMC, and it was also the first front-wheel-drive vehicle the brand had ever produced.

When a second generation of the Acadia was launched, the first-generation continued in production for a while and was sold as the Acadia Limited. Therefore, if you see a used 2017 GMC Acadia for sale at a great price it could be an Acadia Limited and not a second-generation Acadia. That’s something to keep an eye out for as you don’t want to get excited about what at first might appear to be a used bargain but then turns out to be a more dated vehicle than you were hoping for.

If you want to get a used GMC Acadia and other used vehicles for the lowest possible price, government and police auctions are the way to go. You need to know what you’re looking for to buy at auction, but this guide is a great place to find used vehicles at incredible prices.

First-generation GMC Acadia (2007-2016)

2013 GMC Acadia
2013 GMC Acadia

The first Acadia was GMC’s entry-level crossover utility vehicle (CUV) when it went into production in 2006 as a 2007 model. It was the brand’s first foray into the world of unibody vehicle production as GMC had previously stuck to truck-based body-on-frame models, and it was also the brand’s first front-wheel-drive vehicle. Of course, all-wheel-drive was also available and a lot of used models you’ll come across will be AWD.

This version of the Acadia was a full-size model in every sense. It could accommodate up to eight people and had a maximum towing capacity of 5,200 pounds, which is pretty decent for a unibody crossover. It sat in the GMC lineup of the time between the Terrain and the Yukon and paired a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Early versions of the first-generation Acadia produced 275 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, but that increased to 288 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. when the High Feature LY7 engine was replaced by the direct-injected LLT engine for the 2009 model year.

Although a second-generation GMC Acadia arrived with the 2017 model year, the first-generation continued to be produced and sold as the 2017 GMC Acadia Limited with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine developing 310 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque.

If you’re shopping for a used first-generation Acadia you need to know that GMC gave it a facelift for the 2013 model year that saw the front fascia and grille completely redesigned. The 2013 model also got a redesigned rear liftgate and a much-improved interior in terms of both design and quality.

If you want to know which trim levels were available and what features they included for every model year from 2013 onwards, here are all the brochures:

Second-generation GMC Acadia (2017-present)

2020 GMC Acadia
2020 GMC Acadia

In May 2016 the second-generation GMC Acadia arrived as a 2017 model year, and you won’t have much trouble distinguishing the first-gen Acadia from the redesigned second-generation models. The most notable difference is possibly the size. While the original first-gen Acadia was a full-size crossover SUV, the second-generation dropped down to a midsize.

As well as getting smaller and sporting a completely redesigned body, the second-generation Acadia is also available with two rows of seats if you don’t need a third row, and a four-cylinder engine was also introduced for the first time. Second-generation models can be 5, 6 or 7-seat configurations, so if you need an eight-seat capacity you’ll have to stick with a first-generation model.

Second-gen models are around 7 inches shorter and 740 pounds lighter than their first-generation Acadia predecessors, and they’re much more maneuverable and nicer to drive in all circumstances. Most used models you’ll find on lots for sale will probably have the V-6 engine, but don’t be put off a four-cylinder model unless you plan on running your Acadia fully-loaded much of the time as the four-cylinder is very capable and it’s also more fuel-efficient than the V-6.

If you want to know which trim levels were available and what features they included for every model year of the second-generation GMC Acadia, here are all the brochures:

How much should you pay for a used GMC Acadia?

To give you an idea of how much you should expect to pay for a used GMC Acadia, here’s a list of the average price ranges for each model year to 2019 according to thecarconnection.com.

Model YearPrice fromPrice to

What’s special about the GMC Acadia?

The GMC Acadia is a mass-market model that has an element of superiority about it. If you fancy a Cadillac XT5 or XT6 but your budget won’t stretch to one, the Acadia is a pretty good second-best. It might not have the cache of the Cadillac badge and it might not be quite as opulent as a Caddy, but some would argue the GMC badge is a little more upmarket than a Chevy Blazer or Traverse, and even though the Acadia is priced closer to the Chevys than the Cadillacs.

Potential issues to watch out for with a used GMC Acadia

Check engine warning light – If you’re looking at a used first-generation GMC Acadia it’s not unusual to see the check engine warning light on the dash. While this could be a warning of something serious in some cases, the most likely cause on a first-gen Acadia is a loose or worn gas filler cap. Whether you resolve the issue by tightening the cap or replacing it, this is a quick, cheap and easy fix.

However, if you take your Acadia to a GMC dealership there’s a good chance they’ll charge you around $100 to diagnose the issue, which is a lot more than it costs to fix. Check the gas cap first, and if that doesn’t see the warning light disappear, then take it to a dealer.

Check engine warning light 2 – If you’re looking at an Acadia between the 2007 and 2012 model years and the check engine warning light isn’t on as a result of a fault with the filler cap, you could have a bigger problem. This could be an indication that the Acadia’s power control module needs an update, or it could also mean the camshaft needs to be corrected. This fault usually shows up at around 110,000 miles and it could cost you as much as $1,700 to get fixed.

Check engine warning light issue 3 – You may be beginning to see a pattern here. If the Acadia you’re interested in is a 2007 to 2013 model or a 2015 model year that’s done more than 90,000 miles and you have a check engine light on the dash if it isn’t one of the problems listed above you could have really big problems. It could be that the clutch wave plate in the Acadia’s transmission is breaking down, and it could result in you being brought to a halt in the middle of the road.

The only solution could be a full transmission rebuild, and then you’re into the territory of a repair bill of somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000. The best advice I can give is that if you are test-driving a used Acadia and the check engine light comes on, try the fuel filler cap to see if that solves the problem. If it doesn’t, then walk away and go find another one.

GMC Acadia rivals worth considering

Buyers are not exactly short of choices when it comes to used midsize crossover SUVs, but a lot of them are very similar. In fact, one of the main rivals of the GMC Acadia is actually a GM stablemate, the Chevrolet Traverse.

If you want to look beyond GM for a used midsize crossover, the main competition for the Acadia comes from the Ford Explorer, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, and the Nissan Pathfinder.

2017 GMC Acadia Limited
2017 GMC Acadia Limited

GMC Acadia FAQs

Is the GMC Acadia reliable?

According to the repairpal.com website, the GMC Acadia has a reliability rating of 3.0 out of a maximum of 5.0, which places it at a pretty poor 23rd out of 26 in the midsize SUV segment. Even so, the average annual repair cost is $734 which places it right in the middle for average annual ownership costs. Reliability issues don’t appear to occur any more frequently than they do with rivals, but they do tend to be a little more server with the Acadia.

Does the GMC Acadia suffer from transmission problems?

I covered a known potential transmission problem above, but as the years have gone by transmission problems have become rarer for the Acadia. If you’re looking at a second-generation Acadia you’re no more likely to experience a transmission problem than you would with any rival model.

How many miles will a GMC Acadia last?

A well-maintained Acadia is probably good for a couple of hundred thousand miles at least, and more recent models look as though they will last even longer than earlier versions of the Acadia.

How well does the GMC Acadia hold its value?

Once again, the resale value of the Acadia is pretty much in line with its rivals.  With depreciation after five years estimated at 58%, the Acadia isn’t exactly what you’d call an investment. However, if you’re looking for a used bargain then a five-year-old Acadia with full-service history is definitely worth considering.

Is the GMC Acadia a luxury car?

GMC isn’t a luxury brand in the strictest terms, so it’s not held in the same esteem as the likes of Cadillac, BMW, and Mercedes. However, a GMC Acadia Denali is as well-equipped and luxurious as just about any luxury rival you care to mention, and the GMC doesn’t cost as much as a similar model with a more prestigious badge.

Is the GMC Acadia AWD?

The Acadia in its most basic form is a front-drive midsize crossover SUV, but all-wheel-drive is available across the range. The AWD system employed by the Acadia isn’t designed for hard-core off-roading, but it’s still a very capable system and makes light work of some pretty treacherous on-road weather conditions.

Is the GMC Acadia good on gas?

The fuel economy of the GMC Acadia improved with the arrival of the second generation and that four-cylinder engine option and 740-pound weight reduction. A 2017 second-gen model with the 2.5-liter inline-four should get you 21 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined with front-wheel-drive or 21/25/23 mpg in AWD form.

With the V-6 engine, you can expect something like 18/25/21 mpg with front-wheel-drive and 18/25/20 mpg with AWD.

If you’re considering a first-gen model such as a 2015, expect the V-6 to return 17 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg combined with front-drive and 16/23/18 mpg with AWD.

GMC Acadia years to avoid

It’s hard to point the finger at particular GMC Acadia years that you should avoid because every model year of every vehicle will have good ones and bad ones. But if you look at which Acadia model years have reported the most issues with reliability then 2008 is one that stands out. To be fair to GMC and the Acadia itself, the vehicle was only in its second year at that point and the best model year of any vehicle generation tends to be the last after all the gremlins and wrinkles have been ironed out.

Should you buy a used GMC Acadia?

If you need minivan people-carrying capacity but you can’t stand the idea of owning and driving a minivan, the GMC Acadia is a good alternative. The interior is spacious for passengers and cargo and later models come with a lot of active and passive safety features that make it a good vehicle for families.

The Acadia has a little more style and panache than the Chevy Traverse, and Denali versions can be every bit as opulent as some big-name luxury midsize crossovers costing considerably more. First-generation models are starting to look a little dated these days, especially alongside the second-generation Acadia.

However, you can get first-gen models that can accommodate up to eight people and they look like a good value way of getting a lot of people around in some comfort.

2017 GMC Acadia interior
2017 GMC Acadia interior