2008 Acadia New Car Test Drive
The GMC Acadia may be a harbinger of refined, fuel-efficient vehicles that offer the utility of a big SUV. The Acadia is a crossover SUV, meaning it looks like a truck but it's built like a car. Crossovers have been gaining in popularity because they make so much sense for so many families, but what sets the Acadia apart is its size: It's big, similar in size to the GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe, inside and out. It can seat eight. And it can carry a lot of cargo. Yet it offers a fuel economy advantage of three-five miles per gallon over a Yukon, benefits of its lighter weight and more efficient engine.
We've found the Acadia delivers what most people like about full-size SUVs. For starters, it's big and roomy. The driver sits high off the ground and benefits from that commanding view down the road that many like. Features like rear-seat DVD entertainment make it a good choice for families.
The only places where the Acadia falls short of truck-based SUVs is in heavy-duty towing or for slogging through military-grade muck. Properly equipped, the GMC Acadia can tow 4,500 pound, while a Yukon is rated to pull 7,500 pounds or more. Based on the Silverado pickup, the Yukon can handle rugged terrain. The Acadia offers all-wheel drive for capability in stormy or snowy weather and it's fine for unpaved roads. That's plenty of capability for most people.
The Acadia offers superb road manners, whether on country roads, rough city streets or pock-marked freeways. It absorbs rough pavement in a soothing manner and takes corners reassuringly for such a large vehicle. It handles better and is smoother than a Yukon and other truck-based SUVs. GMC's 275-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is smooth and sophisticated and supplies good acceleration performance. Its six-speed automatic transmission is responsive, smooth and efficient, further aiding fuel economy.
Three rows of seats provide room for seven or eight, though it's more comfortable with six. Two adults and two or three children plus their belongings can be carried with ease. Acadia comes loaded with safety equipment, including curtain air bags that provide head protection and side-impact airbags that provide torso protection; electronic stability control and other active safety features can help the driver avoid accidents.
For 2008, Acadia comes standard with Brake Assist, which helps the driver apply full braking performance in a panic stop. A rearview camera now comes with the optional navigation system, and we recommend it highly to help the driver avoid a tragic accident when backing up. Improvements to the all-wheel-drive and traction-control systems enhance and refine their performance for 2008. XM Satellite Radio comes standard on the 2008 Acadia. A second-row center console has been added to seven-seat models, there are new metallic colors, and other equipment added for 2008.
The 2008 GMC Acadia comes in basic SLE and up-level SLT trim. Each is available with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Acadia SLE FWD ($29,735) and AWD ($31,765) come with air conditioning, cruise control, tilt and telescope steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, power windows and programmable door locks with remote keyless entry, four-way manually adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split second-row seats, 60/40 split third-row seats, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with XM Satellite Radio, auto-on headlamps, daytime running lights, and a rear window wiper. Tires are 255/65 on 18-inch painted aluminum wheels. Options for SLE include Bose stereo ($870), second-row captain's chairs and console ($495), and other equipment from the higher-line model. Also available is a package ($2,055) combining tri-zone climate control, the Bose stereo, and a rear-seat DVD system.
Acadia SLT FWD ($34,270) and AWD ($36,300) add leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, six-way power adjustable driver's seat, two-way power adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, second-row captain's chairs with console, a more sophisticated Bose stereo with rear headphone jacks, driver information center, outside temperature display, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and turn signals integrated into outside mirrors.
Options for SLT include the Dual Skyscape two-panel glass sunroof ($1,300); navigation system and rearview camera ($2,340); head-up display ($350); HID headlights ($500); and 19-inch bright aluminum wheels ($1,295). Eight-passenger seating is available for a credit (-$495). DVD entertainment is offered as a stand-alone option ($1,295). The SLT-2 package ($1,980) upgrades to an eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, memory function for driver's seat and mirrors, power liftgate, heated washer nozzles, 115-volt power outlet, cargo shade and net, remote starter, and ultrasonic rear park assist.
Options for both models include a towing package ($425) including heavy-duty cooling and trailer hitch, and an engine-block heater ($75).
Safety features include dual frontal airbags, side air curtains, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, OnStar, anti-lock brakes, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. Brake Assist has been added for 2008.
Air curtains are low-pressure air bags that come down from the ceiling and cover the side windows (of all three rows on the Acadia) to provide head protection in a side-impact crash or rollover; in a rollover the air curtains could also help keep arms and heads inside the vehicle. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is funded by the insurance industry, have shown such head protection greatly improves the chance of surviving a side-impact crash. However, air curtains are not a substitute for seat belts. The front-seat side-impact air bags provide torso protection in a side-impact crash. IIHS studies have also shown these, too, are valuable, but not as important as head protection.
OnStar uses a global positioning system and an extra powerful cellular telephone to put the driver in touch with the OnStar center which is manned 24/7. The center can tell where the vehicle is located and send help or provide other assistance. Should the air bags deploy the system can automatically notify the OnStar center that an accident has occurred and where the vehicle is located so it can then send help. OnStar service is free for the first year but after that requires a subscription fee.