Upon arrival in Vancouver to sample GMC’s all-new 2017 Acadia, we jumped into our vehicles and drove the Sea-to-Sky highway toward Whistler. Our navigation system asked us to make a left turn about 20 kilometres before Whistler, onto an almost-hidden gravel road that winds its way through the lush B.C. forest. A minute later you arrive at a striking oasis called the Brew Creek Centre.

Set in an impossibly beautiful, quiet and relaxing environment that used to be a privately owned cedar mill, the Centre is a 12-acre complex comprised of a main lodge along with multiple cabins and two-storey multi-room buildings in a resort that can handle anything from weddings to corporate events like ours. They pride themselves on having as little impact on the environment as possible – their sustainability model includes solar heating, composting on a grand scale and they even grow their own produce.

GMC introduced us to the new Acadia here, and we learned a bit about where the brand is headed from a corporate standpoint as well as with the Acadia nameplate itself. GMC’s motto is “Bold, Capable, Precisely Crafted” and they want to ensure they keep doing things right – especially here, as Canada has the highest GMC market share in the world.

So where are they coming from with the Acadia? Our hosts noted that the modern family embraces the chaos of life and is ready, willing and able to seek out everyday adventures – and their SUV should be able to do the same. The Acadia is remarkably flexible in its offerings – it’s available with two different engines, 2WD or all-wheel drive, and there are five-, six- and seven-passenger configurations. And when they say it’s all-new, they mean it. The 2017 Acadia shares no parts with the 2016.

We met a brand-new trim level too – the 2017 Acadia is available as an All Terrain. It is the first 5-passenger (two-row) Acadia, and gets a cool (and unique) appearance package where GMC’s traditionally blingy look is taken down a few notches in favour of a darker finish. There are also skid plates and roof rails. It seems the All Terrain is aimed at the outdoorsy, adventurous crowd that is looking for a more rugged, less luxurious Acadia with more room for their stuff.

If the 2017 Acadia doesn’t look familiar, you probably haven’t seen an Acadia before. GMC’s big, bold styling cues continue on in the 2017, but it is instantly recognizable. In my opinion that’s a good thing, as the Acadia was my personal favourite of the GMC triplets (the others being the Chevy Traverse and the Buick Enclave).

While the styling is evolutionary, you will notice a big change in dimensions. GMC has knocked a full seven inches off the Acadia’s length – which impacts the cargo space, not the leg room inside – and the SUV is narrower now too.

DENALI! Test Drive: 2015 GMC Acadia Denali AWD

That bold, bright Denali signature grille is flanked by HID headlights and very noticeable LED driving lights. The overall shape remains the same, but you can immediately tell it is more compact and tidier.

Speaking of the Denali trim, it’s obviously quite important to GMC. It’s even evident when you walk around and get into the Acadia. You’ll find one Acadia badge – and nine Denali badges. It’s practically shouting “DENALI” at you.

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