A white 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 is parked, while facing forward, on a dirt trail that's overlooking a city at dusk.

Checking out the 2020 GMC Acadia AT4


The General Motors Company, is world-renowned for its vehicle brands within its portfolio, especially the aptly-named GMC brand. Some of their most popular vehicles are trucks and SUVs and this year, they’ve introduced big changes to their Acadia vehicles by bringing the AT4 model line to this mid-size SUV. The result is the GMC Acadia AT4.

Initially, it may not seem like much of a change, but for those that know GMC vehicles, you know the AT4 line has been exclusively seen on the Sierra pickup models. This is the first time we’re seeing AT4 associated with an SUV, which is definitely a big deal.

What is AT4?

If you haven’t heard of the GMC AT4 line, you probably wouldn’t be the only one. It’s actually only been around for a couple of years and is commonly seen as a way for GMC to stay competitive in their respective markets (trucks and SUVs) by offering a completely capable off-road option. They started with this model on the Sierra, and now it’s been added to the 2020 Acadia as well. For some, it’s not a big deal because off-roading isn’t a part of any future plans. For others, though, it’s something of a revelation. Now, don’t think you’ll be able to start rock crawling with the Jeeps, but for fans of GMC’s brand, style, and interior comforts — this will be a viable option for adventures off the beaten path.

If you don’t believe me, check out the GMC Acadia AT4 website. The landing page is chock full of video and imagery of the vehicle flying down trails and climbing hilly terrain. There’s absolutely no pavement in sight. So, obviously, you can tell where the AT4 is able to stretch its legs and really excel.

Off the Beaten Path

What’s actually setting the Acadia AT4 apart from other off-road SUVs? Let’s check it out.

You have a 3.6L V6 engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission. You can expect 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. This comes standard and has Active Fuel Management as well as Stop/Start technology. The EPA-estimated mpg is up to 25 highway, which is pretty common for off-road-ready vehicles that have all-wheel drive and can seat up to seven people. If you opt for the Trailering Package, you’ll be able to tow up to 4,000 lbs.

A white 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 is driving up a rock lined dirt hill.

The advanced twin-clutch all-wheel drive system will help you conquer the trail by providing ideal amounts of traction. This is made possible through the vehicle’s advanced technological systems, which allows the all-wheel drive system to work with other systems, like StabiliTrak and torque management.

Attached to the center console, you’ll find the Acadia AT4’s Traction Select System. Here, you can switch between different modes depending on the conditions you’re driving in. The available modes are: All-Wheel Drive, Front-Wheel Drive, Sport, Off-Road, and Trailer/Tow (if equipped). It’s becoming more common for off-road vehicles to have options like these because it makes it very easy for the driver to simply rotate the toggle to exactly what they need when they need it. Plus, modes like All-Wheel Drive or Off-Road won’t be necessary all the time, especially if you’re driving on pavement in good weather. Being able to boost your fuel economy at will is a nice option.

Hill Descent Control helps with keeping the drive smooth and controlled as you’re descending hills. It will automatically engage anti-lock braking when descending rough terrain, so you don’t have to constantly pump the brakes yourself. On the flipside, Hill Start Assist will help the drive during hill ascension go a lot smoother. There are times where you’ll have to switch between braking and accelerating and, normally, a vehicle would move slightly during the transition, but with Hill Start Assist, the brakes will be held under certain conditions to help prevent that movement.

Exterior Features

Part of the appeal of any new model line is the fact that it will have its own unique style. The Acadia AT4 has an aggressive and rugged exterior. You can expect gloss-black roof-mounted side rails, 17” gloss-black wheels, black-capped outside mirrors, and AT4 badges. The line’s on the hood lead the eyes directly to the large AT4 grille and LED headlamps. The available black chrome accents would also help to further set the gritty tone for this powerful machine.

Interior and Technology Features

The inside and technology features of a vehicle will always be just as important as the exterior features, sometimes even more so, which is probably why the Acadia AT4 is jam-packed with them.

As mentioned above, the Acadia AT4 can seat up to seven people, although there are multiple configurations, including 5-, 6-, or 7-passenger seating. Seating for five is the standard configuration and will, of course, provide the most cargo space.

The standard packages are Driver Alert Package I, Driver Convenience Package, and Infotainment Package. There are multiple other packages available, including Driver Alert Package II and Trailering Package.

Driver Alert Package I includes:

  • Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Rear Park Assist

These are some nice safety features to start with, but with an upgrade to the Driver Alert Package II, you can find more features, like Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front and Rear Park Assist, and IntelliBeam headlamps.

The front black leather interior of a 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 is shown with an infotainment system.

Highlights of the Driver Convenience Package include:

  • Remote start
  • Driver and front passenger heated seats
  • Hands-Free power programmable liftgate
  • Gloss black roof-mounted side rails

While the remote start, heated seats, and hands-free liftgate are definitely convenience features, the roof-mounted side rails are a real necessity for most adventure enthusiasts. It’s just another option for additional cargo space or for storing recreational equipment, like bicycles or kayaks.

And the Infotainment Package includes:

  • 8” diagonal GMC Infotainment System with navigation and multi-touch display
  • Bose premium 8-speaker audio system

HD Radio

Also, the Acadia AT4 is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And, you can connect up to seven mobile devices to the available 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot. That seems like it could make family road trips a lot easier on everyone. Other great convenience features include tri-zone automatic climate control, 120-volt power outlet, Active Noise Cancellation, Universal Home Remote, and USB ports (first, second, and third rows).

For a true adventure vehicle, the Trailering Package would be an ideal option, since it includes a trailer hitch and Hitch Guidance. Having a towing capacity of 4,000 lbs (with the Trailering Package) will also open up a lot of different options, from camping in the woods to water sports at the lake.

The GMC Acadia AT4 is a versatile vehicle that will be at home on the trail or on the pavement. It’s built with adventure in mind, so if you’re looking into checking one out further, maybe that’s what’s on your mind as well. However, it’s still going to function just fine as the family commuter vehicle as there’s plenty of space to fit everyone and everything. With modern features, both in convenience and safety, you can rest assured that the ride will be comfortable and protected. Plus, it’s pretty easy on the eyes, too.