Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc
2013 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

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GM Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2013 GMC Acadia

General Motors’ big-box front-drive three-row crossovers (with available AWD) bowed in 2007. Originally introduced as the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, they in no uncertain terms announced the death of the minivan, at least as far as GM was concerned. The Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave versions came along a bit later.

Since then Saturn itself has gone the way of the, well, GM minivan, but the others have continued to be strong sellers for the General. The GMC Acadia saw its highest sales in 2011 since being launched.

The bones of this seven/eight-seater are good. The Lambda platform imparts it with surprising agility and body control, and when introduced, the Acadia’s interior quality marked a new direction for GM – essentially away from the disappointing crap this North American arm of the world’s largest automaker was infamous for.

Six years on and it’s refresh time.

The Acadia has always had a chunky and purposeful presence, and for 2013 it gets a new bluff front end with a three-slot grill and fresh headlights featuring a snazzy loop of diffused LED lighting, similar to Audi’s new look. The back sees new taillamps, spoiler and a wrap around rear window. The wheel designs (18s and 19s) have been updated.

Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc
2013 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the cabin benefits from more soft-touch surfaces and the requisite stitching, although the overuse of plasticky chrome, the bright red pointers and markers in the major gauges and the super fake exotic wood trim might have the chintz police squirming. The front seats are very comfortable but the power height adjustment in conjunction with an awkward manual rake adjustment dates these thrones.

Carrying over for 2013 is the 288-hp, 270 lb-ft direct-injection 3.6L V6. It works fairly hard for its living in this 2,200-kg (4,850 lb.) crossover – acceleration is adequate but nothing more. The six-speed auto gets some tweaks to improve drivability and the suspension is retuned for a smoother ride.

An industry first, and available on the Acadia, is an airbag that separates the front passengers in the event of a side collision.

The 2013 Acadia starts at $36,210 for the front drive SLE-1 model.

My tester, the upper-mid level SLT-1 with all wheel drive, had a list of $46,750 before options. Included in that price are the standard-issue roof rails, Bluetooth, interior (red) ambient lighting, XM, and USB plus the SLT-1 stuff (Preferred Equipment Group 4SA) that bestowed 19-inch machined wheels, heated leather, tri-zone climate control, powered liftgate, Bluetooth streaming, fog lamps and remote start.

Test Drive: 2013 GMC Acadia car test drives gmc
2013 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

The single screen rear-seat DVD ($2,255) includes an upgraded 5.1 Bose system, and the two-panel sunroof costs $1,685.

Toss in the $550 tow package (good for 2,364 kg) and we’re just north of 50 large.

The driving position is good and most ergonomics are sound, with the exception of the touch panel surrounding the touchscreen with its small “virtual” buttons. They require accurate prods and give no clue as to whether the message was received. These things are the latest automotive scourge in my books.

It just so happened that my time with the Acadia coincided with the worst snowstorm we’d had in recent memory. Since it took the town over a day to get a plow to my local side streets, the high-ridin’ AWD Acadia was a bit of a godsend. I wasn’t really expecting it to be because it was riding on the standard all-season tires… tsk, tsk.

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