When an automotive brand touts itself as “Professional Grade,” exclusively producing SUVs, light trucks and heavy duty trucks, “Roadblazing.com” expects larger rather than smaller.

Defying expectations…”Honey, GMC shrunk…the 2017 Acadia,” its largest crossover utility vehicle. The corker is that expected replacements for Acadia’s former brethren, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, will approximate their current full-size family crossover dimensions.

So what gives? Did GM just want to give potential Cadillac XT5 buyers a different flavor to cross-shop in the same showroom?

WHAT: 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain AWD 2-Row Crossover Utility Vehicle. This will be the most off-road capable of the C1xx based GM short wheelbase mid-size crossovers: the more luxury focused being the Cadillac XT5. Longer wheelbase versions will include upcoming 2018 Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse replacements.

Standard Power: 2.5L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 194 hp/ 190 lb-ft + 6-spd. automatic transmission

OPTIONAL: 3.6L DOHC 24V I gas V6, 310 hp/ 271 lb-ft + 6-speed Hydramatic, [rather than cousin Cadillac XT5′s 8-speed];

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Surprisingly less boxy than previously but more rugged: Corners feature thinner, wrap around hockey-stick light housings and more liberal application on front white LED mascara; All Terrain trim masks window trim and door hardware and lattice grille-work allowing only some matte metallic horizontal grille bars, lower fascia accent bar and rear tailgate bar; Tall dark plastic body cladding wraps around the full tail.

WHY: The first entry luxury mid-size crossover utility vehicle with off-road creds.

WHEN: On-Sale late summer 2016

WHERE: GMC new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Spring Hill, Tennessee, U.S.A.

WHERE TO: Specified with electronic PTU to multi-plate wet clutch, open differential all-wheel drive, featuring nominal 100/0% – maximum 40/60% e-locking f/r, rear dual clutch rear e-locking torque vectoring, rear-driveshaft disconnect.

HOW ROADWORTHY: 3.6L V6 offers up plenty of passing torque beyond 2000 rpm.; 6-speed automatic snaps off rapid 3-gear downshifts; High rate springs & fast rebound dampers excise bobbing, delivering pitch-free riding; variable ratio steering assist features center return assist for less correcting but filtering our most road feel; Short brake pedal travel not confidence inspiring; Hushed cabin except for authoritative bark upon hard acceleration;

HOW FAR: 20 combined miles per gallon, thanks in part to new engine cylinder disengagement.

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Losing 3rd Row = ample size for 5 adult occupants and +1 large for class cargo hold; 700 pounds lighter due to high-strength steel;

HOW USEFUL: Swaps 3rd Row for Cargo Management: parallel track nets & sub-cargo floor storage; Flat folding 60/40% split 2nd Row tilting seatbacks; +1 Forward visibility / -1 Outward rear visibility from small backlight and narrow side mirrors. Tandem moon-roofs cut headroom; Tow Rating: 4,000 lbs.

HOW SAFE 8 airbags;  IIHS Top Safety Pick + Rear camera w/ guidance grid & sonar Park Assist, Roll Mitigation, Blind spot & Rear cross traffic warning;

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Heated driver/ front passenger seats; 8-way / 4-way power driver’s/ buttery leather front pax buckets provide outstanding mid-back strain relief; Rugged wet-suit grippy inserts on thigh bolsters; Handsomely contrast stitching entire dashboard, All Terrain logo embossed on front seat head-rests; Center console side panels and rear trim for 2nd Row pax climate vents coarse plastic grain;

Cool Gizmo(s): 2nd Row occupant/ cargo Reminder (at completion of trip, activated by 2nd Row door opening prior to trip);

Nearly Non-Descript: Sun glare prone analog gauges seem out of place next to bright colored LCD multi-information display; 2nd Row floor mats slip easily.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Oleophobic matte finish 8″ capacitive LCD infotainment screen with pinch and release action; Intuitive, large icon Intellilink menu; Voice command communications and navigation has speech recognition issues; ; Traffic & Weather app; YAY – Android Auto and Apple Car Play have arrived; subscription fee based OnStar telematics and live concierge services; 4G hot spot (via AT&T subscription) netted in cabin 15 mbps / 10 mbps download/ uploads; moderately powerful 11-spearker Bose Centerpoint lacks selectable live stage array; App Store currently limited to a couple downloadable apps including iHeart radio USB x 4, 115V AC x 1, 12V x 3.

HOW MUCH: $47, 465 for 2017 GMC Acadia All Terrain AWD SLT-1 ;

WHAT’S MISSING: > front door pocket storage, 3rd Row option, key fob detection liftgate release, seat position memory, heated steering wheel & other luxuries only available on pricier Acadia Denali variant.

ANY COMPETITION: Jeep Grand Cherokee +1 V-8, available air springs, off road modes , Toyota 4-Runner +1 TRD Pro, transfer case, ruggedness; Ford Explorer +1 Platinum trim materials;