GMC Acadia gets a makeover

When it was introduced for the 2007 model year, the GMC Acadia marked the beginning of the end for both minivans and mid-sized body-on-frame SUVs in General Motors’ lineup.

The three-row crossover offered a combination of style, space, fuel efficiency, and bad-weather capability that made it a hit and spawned the equally popular Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave the following year. For 2012 the Acadia is the first of the three to get a mild, but meaningful redesign.

On the outside, the Acadia now features a square, more prominent grille, bulging, boxy wheel wells, LED running lights and a wraparound rear window that make it look like a super-size version of the GMC Terrain. Inside, new trim, upgraded materials and ambient lighting dress up a cabin that also gets an industry first center-mounted airbag.

See: All the new cars from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show

Located in the driver’s seat, the airbag is designed to deploy during side-impact collisions and help keep front passengers from crashing into each other in the aftermath of the impact. A new blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert further aim to make the new Acadia safer than the model it replaces.

The only engine choice remains a 3.6-liter 288 hp V6, but it is connected to an upgraded 6-speed transmission and retains its 5,000-lb tow rating.

Pricing for the new Acadia has not been announced, but it goes on sale late this year.