2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Chris Chase

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery: 2007 GMC Acadia

Everyone knows competition is good, but it’s best when all of the competitors are evenly matched. And it gets even better when the underdog team turns it up to eleven and surprises everyone by proving it still deserves to be in the game.

And as the Ottawa Senators do their darnedest to bring the NHL’s Stanley Cup back to Canada after far too long of an absence, General Motors looks like it’s on a similar mission to establish itself as a premier player in what’s becoming an important segment of the new car market.

The whole idea behind crossovers is to combine the practicality of a minivan and the cool factor of an SUV with car-like driving dynamics and fuel consumption. So far, though, few automakers have succeeded on all fronts. The Ford Edge is a terrific option, but doesn’t have three-row seating as a minivan does; the Chrysler Pacifica is pretty roomy and can seat six or seven people comfortably, but it’s ancient and feels like it on the road; and most other three-row crossovers and SUVs have seven seats, but only five that are suitable for full-size occupants.

2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

This brings us to one of the newest crossovers, and the first, in my opinion, which does just about everything right. The most surprising part, perhaps, is that it’s built by General Motors.

That the GMC Acadia (which shares much of its under-the-skin stuff with the Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave) is the product of a company that has been on the verge of imploding for what seems like forever is, well, pretty cool. After all, when it comes to the underdog, you either want to root for them and hope they can pull it together, or you almost hope they crash and burn, just so you can witness the train wreck first hand. Personally, I’d rather see them come up with the clutch play that keeps them in the game.

Talk about coming through in a pinch: the Acadia might be one of the nicest-to-drive vehicles in GM’s stable right now. The ride is smooth and well-controlled, and while handling is predictably un-sporty – cornering limits aren’t hard to reach – the Acadia feels surprisingly nimble, and body roll in corners is very well controlled.

2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

That the Acadia goes over the road as nicely as it does is a big surprise, actually, considering all-wheel drive models weigh in at 2,239 kg. For the metric-challenged, that’s close to 5,000 pounds, or two-and-a-half tons.

But the only place the Acadia feels cumbersome is in tight parking lots, where its large size and wide turning circle conspire to make it feel like a beached whale when you’re trying to nose in between the yellow lines. Visibility out over the hood is good, though, and it’s pretty easy to tell where the car ends; it’s just getting it to go where you want it to that’s problematic.

If the suspension does a good job at masking the Acadia’s mass, the 3.6-litre V6 – straight from the GM parts bin – has to work hard to get all that weight moving. While 275 horsepower and 251 ft-lb of torque sounds like plenty, it’s actually only adequate in the Acadia. And that’s with two people aboard; load up with five more friends and things could get quite slow indeed. Expensive, too: driven with a light foot, my tester burned through about 16 litres of regular unleaded every 100 kilometres in city driving. That’s a far cry from the Natural Resources Canada city fuel consumption rating of 13.5 L/100 km for an all-wheel drive Acadia.

2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

But tepid acceleration and thirsty fuel consumption appear to be the Acadia’s only vices. The styling is bold and the rest of it is well-executed and attractive, even if it’s less distinctive-looking than the Ford Edge.

But what the Acadia gives up to the Edge in terms of distinctiveness it takes right back in the form of utility. The Edge is a spacious and useful vehicle, but it only comes as a five-seater; if crossovers are meant to marry the merits of SUVs and minivans, the Acadia is a better fit with the formula.

To wit: my tester was outfitted with seven seats, but where many crossovers use a two-three-two seating arrangement, my Acadian had second-row captain’s chairs and a three-person third row (a three-seat second row can be had, too, for eight seats total). And where many crossovers’ two-place third rows are best suited to five-year-olds and pet chihuahuas, the Acadia offers real-person, minivan-like space, with very reasonable leg- and headroom. The seating area back here is narrower than in the front two rows, though, so seating three across will still generate some griping and maybe a grudge or two, but comfort for two passengers is quite good.

Second-row occupants make out even better, with more space and comfort overall, but the real winners are the pair seated in the front, where the seats are superb. Everything – the padding, the shape, the size – is just right.

2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

Access to the third row is gained via GM’s new Smart-Slide second-row seats, whereby the bottom seat cushion tilts forward, allowing the whole seat to slide up against the back of the front seat. It’s a one-handed process, and far less of a pain than the usual fold-the-seatback-down-and-flip-the-entire-seat-forward that’s usually required to get third row occupants to their seats.

Even the cargo space left behind with the third-row seats in place is plenty for an ambitious grocery store run, and folding the second and third row seats down makes for a massive cargo hold. I didn’t measure it, but I’m kicking myself for not using this thing to move the big wardrobe waiting for me at my in-laws’ place. The SLT2 also gets a power liftgate as standard; it’s optional on SLT1 and SLE models.

General Motors has made huge strides lately in interior quality and design, and it looks like the Acadia got the best of these efforts. The dash is very well put together and nice to look at and use. There’s lots of small-item storage up front, including a large bin under the centre armrest that would be perfect for keeping valuables hidden from prying eyes.

The gauges are nicely laid out and perfectly legible, but the $475 head-up display (HUD) installed in my tester is a useful add-on that projects a digital speed readout – as well as a few other parameters, if you so choose – onto the windshield, just below the driver’s line of sight.

The Acadia starts at $36,495 in SLE form; there are two SLT models (SLT1 and SLT2, oddly enough) priced at $42,595 and $45,595, respectively. Naturally, my tester was a full-zoot SLT2 with all-wheel drive; GM’s specs tell me the SLT2 comes standard with a preferred equipment package that’s an extra-cost item on lesser models, but you’ll apparently still get dinged for $3,995 anyway. The SLT2 does get a convenience package (comprising a cargo net and cargo area cover) and cold weather package (remote start and heated windshield washer fluid system) thrown in.

2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia
2007 GMC Acadia. Click image to enlarge

Other extras in my tester included a $380 coat of Red Jewel Tintcoat; $1,255 for an upgraded 10-speaker stereo with rear-seat DVD system; a $550 trailering package; $650 high-intensity discharge headlights; a nifty-but-expensive $1,685 dual-panel sunroof; $475 for the head-up display; and $195 for cargo-area audio controls. Add in $1,220 for freight (or is that fright?) and the $100 air conditioning excise tax, and the result is a $56,000 crossover.

Go for a more basic SLE model in front-wheel drive form and you can add power front seats, XM radio and GM’s useful and effective Ultrasonic rear parking aid system for $1,555; with freight charges, that’ll get you an Acadia for under $40,000 – a far more reasonable fee, I think.

The Acadia isn’t the only good thing General Motors has going for it right now, but if it pushes crossover buyers’ buttons the way I think it will (or at least, should), it’ll be a big coup for a company that really has something to prove. I know I’ll be rooting for GM; it’s about time something went right for them. Kind of like a certain NHL team I know…


Pricing: 2007 GMC Acadia SLT AWD

  • Base price: $45,595
  • Options: $9,185 (Preferred Equipment Group of six-way power driver’s seat and two-way power passenger’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment; automatic dual-zone climate control, $3,995; Red Jewel Tintcoat paint, $380; DVD rear-seat entertainment system, $1,255; trailering package, $550; high-intensity discharge headlights, $650; dual panel sunroof, $1,685; head-up display, $475; cargo area audio system controls, $195)
  • Freight: $1,220
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $56,100 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Related stories on Autos


Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chrysler Pacifica
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Edge
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Hyundai Veracruz
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Mazda CX-9
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saturn Outlook
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Suzuki XL-7


Crash test results


Manufacturer’s web site

Connect with Autos.ca