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  • 2007 GMC Acadia

    Posted on June 15th, 2007 ninarussin

    By Jim Woodman

    2007 GMC Acadia

    2007 GMC Acadia

    I first eyed a GMC Acadia when one of my neighbors scored one of the very first ones to be sold in San Diego. The sleek, yet bold design certainly caught my family’s attention and I must admit I’ve been intrigued ever since. No question the Acadia is a very attractive vehicle.

    So when it came time to test drive the Acadia, which is named for Acadia National Park, an idyllic island preserve just off the coast of Maine, I couldn’t wait to put the Arcadia through the paces.

    My 2007 model, which wasn’t sold till February or March 2007, was the front-wheel-drive SLT-1. There are three trim levels: SLE, SLT-1 and SLT-2. SLE starts at $29,990 and SLT-1 sets you back $33,225 for front-wheel-drive versions. All-wheel-drive will set you back another $2,000 which effectively takes the Acadia out of the ALV best value class on the SLE trim.

    That said, for purposes of this review and because I tested the SLT-1 FWD version, I’m obliged to classify this vehicle as luxury because 99% of these are going to be sold north of our $30k best value limit. Of course, if you go nuts on the options and choose an AWD SLT-2 at $38,105 base, you can find yourself sneaking up close to $50k.

    If you have to know, the SLT-2 trim dials you into more luxury extras such as rear parking assist, 8-way power seats instead of 6-way, 115 volt power outlet and assorted conveniences that you may or may not want for the extra $2,880 added to the base price. Each trim comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 275 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

    Crossover SUVs

    And for those that recall my Buick Enclave review, the Acadia, along with the Saturn Outlook, is a close first cousin. These vehicles share the same platform and are part of the fastest growing segment in the auto industry: crossover SUVs.

    As a dad with three kids all under eight years, I’ve become a big fan of these crossovers. The fact you can get three rows of seating and, depending on your choice of second row, easily carry seven or eight passengers is a huge bonus. And, unlike three-row SUVs of a few years back that could barely give a child enough leg room in the back row, today’s crossovers are plenty roomy for adults in the back row.

    While I wouldn’t want to sit in the back row of an Acadia for an extended road trip, it’s more than adequate for daily commuting and family outings. And, when you consider carrying children, these crossovers are quickly replacing minivans as all-purpose family vehicles.

    Child Seat Installation

    Installing my 2-year-old’s car seat was a snap. The safety LATCHes were well-placed and didn’t require a struggle with the seat cushions to snap the hooks in place. The rear tether hooks are conveniently placed right behind the second row seats. While a second row bench is optional and can increase seating capacity to eight, our model had a pass-through area between two captain’s chairs which made it very convenient for my kids to get in and out or move between rows.

    Acadia also features a “Smart Slide” second row feature that lets the seats slide four inches fore and aft – with just one lever – and easily flip up and out of the way for access to the third-row seats.

    Handling and Acceleration

    The Acadia handled much like a car and its exceptional turning radius, for a car this size, made getting in and out of tight parking spaces much easier than with my minivan or other large trucks and SUVs I’ve driven. I wasn’t overly impressed with the highway acceleration as I felt it certainly adequate but a little lacking when wanting to go from say 40mph to 70mph. The Acadia seemed to perform best at low-end torque, meaning it does pretty well off the line: 0-40mph.

    Shifting was very smooth on normal accelerations but seemed to delay shifts a little too long when accelerating hard. To be fair, very few people are going to pound the accelerator to the floor in an Acadia. This isn’t what the car is designed for and if normal day-to-day commuting and car pooling the kids is your gig, you’ll be grinning ear to ear in your Acadia. Every once in a while I’d get a lag or delay on a downshift but it wasn’t too annoying or noticeable. As with the Enclave, it seemed to occasionally happen when releasing the accelerator at speeds under 30mph.

    The Acadia doesn’t seem to be as friendly at the pump as it claims. EPAs are 18 and 26 for city and highway respectively, which seems reasonable but I’d count on being lucky to get 18 mpg on the freeway. I spent most of my time in stop and go traffic and while I didn’t calculate this exactly, I found myself going from a half tank to near empty in less than a hundred miles. I also noticed the fuel gauge could vary significantly based on whether I was parked on a slope or not. After starting the car, and getting to flatter roads, it would take several minutes before I got an accurate fuel gauge reading.

    Cargo Storage

    I did like the 60/40 third row seat fold down configuration which made hauling gear on one or both sides of the third row very easy. Moving the seats up and down was a snap. Even with the third row in place, there was more than adequate space behind the third row (19.7 cubic feet) for hauling groceries and equipment such as tennis racquets, golf clubs and, if I were to remove both front and rear wheels, my racing bicycle.
    With the second and third rows folded down, the Acadia boasts an impressive 116.9 cubic feet of cargo storage. Folding down just the third row, scores you 68.9 cubic feet to haul your gear.

    But here’s the cool part — and this is key to why crossovers are so hot. The Acadia delivers literally the same amount of interior passenger space as a Yukon and significantly more cargo room, yet it’s a tad smaller outside. Think about what I just said. A slightly smaller vehicle on the outside, with more room — that drives more like a car — and gets better gas mileage than the large SUV. Can you say no-brainer?

    An optional power liftgate ($350), which could also be controlled from the keyless remote allowed me to easily open the rear cargo area. Surprisingly, the remote only allowed me to open the gate. Closing it required me to push a button on the gate. Okay, call me soft but I kind of like these power open and close remote functions.

    The center console features a sliding, fore and aft, compartment that has additional climate control buttons for the rear passengers. It’s kind of a slick feature, but the storage space in the center console is a little confusing. It took me awhile to even realize there was a second storage area beneath the top one and it wasn’t all that hefty. Normally, I’d like to pack in CDs, sunglasses and the typical junk we haul around in our cars into the center storage area. It’s like some engineer got a little too cute with the design and forgot the basic principles of simplicity and function.

    Plenty of Standard Features

    Standard features on my SLT-1 included full power controls for just about everything, leather appointed seats, tri-zone climate control and a full array of airbags. Stabilitrak stability control with roll mitigation, traction control and antilock disc brakes are also included. The base stereo is a six-speaker system with an in-dash CD player with MP3 playback. As with the Outlook and Enclave, I really like the fact I could also store favorite radio stations from different bands on the same memory set. So instead of having to switch to the satellite radio band when I want to switch from a favorite FM station, all I needed to do was push one of my preset memory buttons.

    My test model also featured a dual skyscape sunroof ($1300 option) that allowed the front one to fully open and the rear sunroof came with a power sunshade, much to the fascination of my children.

    Another love-it-or-hate-it option included a head-up display ($300) which displays your current speed, tachometer and radio station (plus artist for satellite radio) in the windshield as kind of a hologram. It’s a nice feature that will probably help those with a lead foot as that digital speed display is in your face and you’ll immediately know you’re speeding. You can choose to not show the display or move it up or down for optimal viewing angle.

    For those looking for a crossover with bold and aggressive looks, the GMC Acadia may just be your ticket. It drives much more like a car than a large Size SUV, yet boasts just as much — or more — passenger and cargo carrying capacity than those big SUVs. GMC’s strong truck heritage certainly comes across when looking at the front grille, yet the exterior lines and styling are distinct and eye-catching enough to ensure you’re not only getting where you want to go with plenty of room, but with plenty of style.

    Quick Facts:

    Base price: $33,225
    Price as tested: $36,879
    Horsepower: 275 hp @ 6600 rpm
    Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
    0 to 60: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: No
    Towing: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway

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