First Drive: 2007 GMC Acadia
- December 10, 2006
- GMC, On The Road: Driving Impressions
- Posted by George Peterson
- Comments Off on First Drive: 2007 GMC Acadia
As anyone reading this VehicleVoice news section knows, GMC has an all-new crossover SUV. With Acadia, and its Saturn Outlook sibling, GM’s approach for innovative people-moving solutions still relies on a large basic vehicle. The package is well done, but the extra length GM had to work with versus true mid-size competitors helped make it possible. Acadia has the overall length of a Yukon or a long-wheelbase Chrysler Town & Country, about ten inches longer than the Envoy. With Acadia, GMC is targeting mid-size and crossover SUVs. In reality, they will pull buyers from the minivan set and full-size SUVs right along with buyers of the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, or Toyota Highlander.
GMC invited VehicleVoice and AutoPacific along as they showed off their new baby to journalists along a four-hour drive from Palo Alto to Hollister, California, with a stop at Leal Vineyards (minus a wine tasting), and back again. The weather was spectacular, the roads varied and challenging, and the Acadia a comfortable and willing steed. We’ve also had the opportunity to drive the Saturn Outlook around our town, where it performed about the same as the Acadia around Palo Alto, but roads more challenging were added to the Acadia experience.
The Acadia and Outlook are powered by the same 275HP 3.6L DOHC 24v V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, with a self-shift feature operated by an up/down switch on the gearlever. There isn’t much difference between Acadia and Outlook suspensions. The engine was tuned for optimum torque and power response geared toward stronger low-end acceleration, enabling the 4720-pound front-drive (4925-pound AWD) Acadia the power to satisfy in its primarily urban jungle environment.
Nimble Handling from a Large Package
Acadia drives small and behind the wheel, it doesn’t feel like a Yukon or a Chrysler Town & Country. GMC has developed a nimble, agile driving experience, which we fully enjoyed through a terrific twisty section of road early in the day. Acadia slipped through the curves more like a large sedan than a full-size SUV and with minimal body roll. Its long wheelbase and wide track contribute both to responsive ride and handling and a strong, purposeful exterior look. Steering is well-weighted and allows for good road feel. Acadia felt small, nimble, and responsive through the twists and switchbacks. Along the highway, Acadia was comfortable and smooth.
As much as we appreciate the interior conveniences Acadia offers, it is not the most quiet inside. Wind noise is low, but conversations between the front and second row were not as effortless as we would have liked. Seats are comfortable, but only just. The second- and third-row seats fold flat and the overall package is well done, but at the expense of padding, especially in the second row. Driver’s and front passenger’s seats could use more support in the side bolsters. The third row is comfortable where others are not, but the first and second are less comfortable.
We started the day with an SLE with cloth trim, which is nice and its texture helps hold you in the seat. We later traded for an SLT with the brick leather seating, which looks terrific and lends itself well to GMC’s Professional Grade image. The leather-wrapped SLT wheel was nicely done, and both the SLE and SLT wheels provided good heft in hand. The SLE gets black side-view mirrors without the turn indicators and the SLT gets body color mirrors with a turn indicator. Both get the automatic triple-indicator when the switch is depressed, another touch to make the car more comfortable to live with.
Our SLT was loaded up with every possible feature for an MSRP near $46,000. Our SLE added some well-chosen options to go from its base price of $29,990 to just under $33,000. And at $33,000, you got all the elements that make the interior package so good to live with, plus extras like remote start and a rear-parking sensor.
Can Acadia and Outlook Help Slow GM Market Share Loss?
Whether Acadia or Outlook, these vehicles are a terrific step forward for GM in terms of people movers. The interior package answers today’s consumer demands and driving dynamics are engineered toward their real-world duty cycle of malls, work, shopping, and vacations. The new transmission and modern engine return strong fuel economy numbers, with 18/26 city/highway mpg for the front-drive version and 17/24 for the AWD models. GM has developed a way to catch those buyers who may be defecting from large SUVs because of gas prices, in the same year they updated their full-size SUVs. Strong truck products are still at the core of GM’s strength, but the Acadia and its siblings have adapted to the new century.