FLINT HILL, VA – In an era when cars and trucks swing for the fences with “bigger-is-better” redesigns, the ’17 GMC Acadia bucks the trend and plays small ball, relatively speaking.

In its 10 years on the market in the U.S. and Canada, the Acadia has been baseball’s equivalent of an old-school basher: as thick in the shoulders as the waist, plodding and ungainly on the basepaths, and as dependable as the dollar for late-inning heroics.

So when it came time for the Acadia to enter the modern era, General Motors must have wrestled mightily over giving up the big CUV’s stadium-size roominess and luxury-suite view of the road, a combination that drew an intensely loyal fan base, for a more agile offering that would be less of a fixture at the postgame buffet known as the gas pump.

But the automaker renowned for stacking its lineup with lovable beer-leaguers turned the tables by slashing more than 700 lbs. (318 kg) from the new Acadia. It employs a host of lightweight materials, and every dimension of its footprint was shrunk.

Those moves permitted a blockbuster trade: Out goes a V-6 that labored so hard in the old model it could not get from second base to home plate without a fill-up, and in comes a smooth-operating and fuel-efficient inline-4.

The result is a more maneuverable large CUV with sharper handling and fuel economy upwards of 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km), which is a full 4 mpg (1.7 L/100 km) better than the old model.

It’s more flexible, too. Although the 8-man seating option is out, the new Acadia shifts to an optional third row to allow 5-, 6- or 7-passenger capability to satisfy buyers seeking cargo space or a balance between the two configurations.

New technologies include available selectable drive modes, allowing drivers to adjust for different conditions such as snow or trailering, and a fresh-off-the-shelf all-wheel-drive system that saves fuel by automatically disconnecting from the rear axle when it is not needed. It permits mild off-roading, based on testing here.

The Acadia also adds automatic pedestrian braking and a surround-vision camera to its suite of active-safety options and an industry-first child-seat alert system to prevent kids left in hot cars.

The Acadia is the second application of GM’s new Middle and Large CUV architecture. The 2-row Cadillac XT5 came first, arriving earlier this year, and the Acadia is just trickling onto dealer lots. A longer wheelbase version of TL will underpin the next Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave large CUVs coming next year. Additional CUV products for the U.S. and abroad also will spin off the platform.