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by Derek Mau


2007 GMC Acadia
click on any image to enlarge

Crossover is the big buzzword in the auto industry these days. Combine a unibody chassis with the space functionality of a full-size SUV and you have GMC’s latest creation – the 2007 Acadia. The typical suburban family that owns a SUV primarily uses it for transporting kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons, the unending trips to the grocery store, and getting through foul weather with the conviction of a Navy Seal. Why settle for a vehicle that drives and feels like a truck? Thankfully the automakers were listening and we now we have crossover vehicles which are much easier to climb in/out and much easier to drive.

Pros and Cons

  • Very easy to drive, much like a car
  • Good interior and exterior styling points
  • Ample amounts of leg room for adults in second and third row seats
  • Spring loaded release for 2nd and 3rd row seats makes flattening the seats a snap

  • Low entry height when compared to other SUVs
  • Transmission stumbles when downshifting for passing or extra acceleration
  • Fuel economy numbers are mediocre for a V6 engine
  • Lots of storage compartments but too small to be of any real value
gmc acadia rear view

Driving Impressions

My first and biggest impression of the Acadia was how easy it was to drive. Basically, my first experience behind the wheel consisted of adjusting my mirrors, shifting into “D” and driving away. Sometimes large SUVs can be intimidating and it takes some adjustment time before it becomes comfortable driving around 5,000 pounds of steel and glass. This wasn’t the case with the Acadia. Driving around town, squeezing in and out of traffic and running some basic errands during the road test were easy as pushing a cart around the grocery store. Okay, maybe not that easy but I discovered that driving the Acadia was nowhere near like driving a yellow mini-school bus for the special kids.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

Since I mentioned buses, how many SUV owners and riders deplore the “climbing” required to get into the seats of an SUV? I’m not a very tall person and I find myself grabbing onto something and either pulling myself up and into the cabin or doing a little hop to jump into the seat. Since the ride height of the Acadia is lower than most SUVs on the market today, entering and exiting the cabin didn’t require any acrobatics or any special training. Women with skirts are going to love this feature about this crossover vehicle.

  GMC Acadia Ford Explorer Ford Expedition Chev Tahoe Chev Suburban GMC Yukon Dodge Durango Toyota 4Runner Toyota Sequoia Nissan Pathfinder
ground clearance (inches)
7.4
8.2
8.7
9.1
9.1
9.1
8.7
9.1
10.6
8.8

 

The interior is comfortable, has lots of luxury features and there are plenty of cup holders and small compartments for stowing the kid’s Bionicles. Even accessing the third row seats is easy with the bucket seats placed in the second row. There is plenty of leg room and head clearance that can accommodate full-size adults and not just kids under the age of 12.

engine bayview of cockpit2nd row seating

Performance

One of the few complaints that I had with the Acadia was with the transmission. For some reason there is a stumble (or delay) when pressing hard on the accelerator and waiting for the transmission to downshift. This can be a little annoying when trying to pass other vehicles or getting on the freeway with a short on-ramp. Manual shift mode helps the situation a little better, but I really shouldn’t have to be thinking that hard when I need the speed. Outside of the transmission stumble, the Acadia performed better than average. Braking power was adequate with the vehicle unloaded and the 3.6L V6 engine with 275 HP and 251 lb-ft of torque seemed more than capable during the test drive. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this full-size SUV fully loaded with passengers and/or cargo.

Handling

Suspension setup was comfortable as any mid-size or full-size sedan. If you hate how your SUV drives and feels like a truck, then riding in the Acadia will feel like a limousine ride in comparison. A lot of the small bumps and rough riding was erased while cruising around in this crossover vehicle. With big curves and cloverleaf freeway ramps body lean wasn’t so bad and the danger of rollover wasn’t predominantly in my mind as I have with some other tall vehicles. I wasn’t going to attempt any high-speed turns as I would with an X3, but the Acadia gave me the impression that the rubber side had a better chance of staying in full contact with the asphalt than a Ford Explorer.

Styling

I actually liked the exterior styling of the Acadia. It did not have the over-stated fender bulges of a Dodge Durango and it was not anywhere near as a bland as the Toyota SUVs. Even the side view mirrors were nicely sculpted to match the lines of the body and they were large enough to be useful when keeping a watchful eye on the small trailer carrying your weekend activity toys.

Whoa! Check out the dual sunroofs on this sport-ute. GMC designates their windows to the stars as the Oversize Dual Skyscape™ Sunroof. It took a few minutes and quick read of the owner’s manual to figure out how the two switches controlling the sunroof and shade screen functioned. The front sunroof can be tilted forward or opened all the way with a single-motion power switch; the sunshade is manually operated. The rear sunroof, which is even bigger in dimensions than the front, is fixed but has a power controlled sunshade. The rear sunshade is also controlled with a single-motion power switch. Holding down the switch and waiting for the sunroof or shade screen to fully open or close is no longer necessary.

gmc acadia side viewgmc acadia overhead view

Conclusion

Normally, I am not a devoted GM admirer. The design quality of the American automakers cannot match up to the European or Japanese manufacturers and the driving experience can be uninspiring. This is not the case with the GMC Acadia. I spent almost 6 hours test driving this suburban multi-purpose vehicle and my driving experience with the Acadia was thoroughly enjoyable the entire time. GM is definitely moving in the right direction with design of the Acadia.

We tested the SLT model and prices start at $33,465. Getting a full-size luxury SUV that drives/feels like a full-size sedan is worth the price of admission alone. Having all the well thought-out luxury features built into this crossover vehicle makes it all the more appealing. The Acadia is definitely a winner in the full-size crossover SUV category. If you don't believe me, read a viewpoint from a woman's perspective below.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4

4

4

4

5

5

4.3

A Second Opinion by Natasha

Driving the new GMC Acadia SLT-2 was really fun and exciting! The exterior design of the SUV crossover is really strong and attractive and even better was the fact that it drove like a car – not a big truck. It was very easy to get in and go and the handling was awesome. Taking turns and braking were excellent and very smooth.

There were really so many interior features that I liked in this model. The double sunroof is awesome because it really gives an open and airy feeling inside. The 2nd row (captain’s chairs) had a smart slide feature that gives plenty of 3rd row passenger’s legroom. And the fact that the 2nd and 3rd rows fold completely down is important to note because it makes way for plenty of cargo space when needed. The cargo area even had audio controls that would make it handy for tailgating and extra compartments to store whatever you want.

The SLT model we tested had so many neat features like the DVD player, XM Radio, separate climate/sound system controls and one-touch sunroof open/close buttons. Overall, the interior console design was simple and easy to use without too much clutter or visual distractions.

The 275 horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine has plenty of power and you’ll have no problem passing other cars on the highway. The exterior design again is really gorgeous and I think GMC did a great job in achieving the crossover look. It’s sporty, sturdy, has lots of space and, most of importantly, a great vehicle to drive.

cargo area

two sunroofs

DVD player

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