The all-new GMC Acadia may look like a sport utility vehicle, but this is one of those cases in which looks deceive. The Acadia has many of the capabilities of an SUV but it is aimed at people who want better ride and handling.
The Acadia is what the auto industry calls a "crossover," which means despite its looks it uses car-type construction and mechanical components instead of the trucky parts used in traditional SUVs.
Acadia shares those components with its siblings, the 2007 Saturn Outlook and the 2008 Buick Enclave.
Head down a curved, country road and it is easy to see GMC achieved its goals with the Acadia. It eases over rough pavement in a soothing manner but takes corners in a reassuring fashion, although the driver is always aware that this is a relatively large and heavy vehicle.
Meanwhile, a sophisticated 275-hp 3.6-liter V6 provide smooth and readily available acceleration and a new six-speed automatic transmission helps fuel economy.
In addition, all Acadias come loaded with standard safety equipment including proven lifesavers such as electronic stability control and air bags that provide head protection in a side-impact crash.
Three rows of seats provide room for seven or eight, although that assumes an extremely chummy trip. But two adults and two or three children and many of their favorite belongings could be carried with ease.
The standard Acadia has front-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available so the Acadia offers the same bad-weather security as classic SUVs. Where it falls behind a classic SUV is in towing capacity or the ability to handle a serious, off-road chore. But for most people that won't matter a bit. For most people, the Acadia is an interesting and attractive alternative.
The 2007 GMC Acadia comes in three trim levels, starting with the SLE followed by the SLT1 and SLT2. Each is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment on the SLE includes air conditioning; cruise control; tilt and telescope steering wheel; heated, outside mirrors; power windows and door locks; OnStar; four-way, manual adjustable driver's seat; AM/FM/compact disc player; auto-on headlamps; daytime running lights; rear window wiper and seven-passenger seating.
Options include eight-passenger seating ($495); rear-seat entertainment/DVD player; convenience package with remote start and ultrasonic rear parking assist ($435); two-panel Skyscape sunroof ($1,300); head-up display ($350); 19-inch aluminum wheels ($695); power liftgate ($350).
Safety features include air curtains, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, OnStar, anti-lock brakes, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control. All-wheel drive is available for more secure grip in foul weather.
Air curtains are low-pressure air bags that come down from the ceiling and cover the side windows (of all three rows) to provide head protection in a side-impact crash or rollover; in a rollover the air curtains could help keep arms and heads inside the vehicle in addition to providing head protection. However, air curtains are not a substitute for seat belts. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is funded by the insurance industry, have shown such head protection greatly improves the chance of surviving a side-impact crash. The front-seat side-impact airbags provide chest protection in a side-impact crash. Institute studies have also shown these "torso bags" are valuable, but not as valuable 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 of an accident and where the vehicle is located so it can then send help. Initially OnStar help is free but eventually there are subscription charges.