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GMC Acadia is well-rounded

March 23, 2013
By Dan Lyons - Motor Matters , The Inter-Mountain

Think of the Acadia as the middle child of General Motors' large crossover utility vehicle family. Slotted mid-way between the more upscale Buick Enclave and the more affordable Chevy Traverse, this GMC suffers the same fate as the "middle child" - lost in the shuffle. That's a fate it doesn't deserve. Like its GM siblings, the 2013 Acadia is a well-rounded vehicle. And, its feature-per-dollar value makes it arguably the best bet amongst the triplets.

One powertrain is offered, combining a 3.6-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is rated at 288 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque - and this combination provides ample power in all typical driving situations. The Acadia can be equipped to tow up to 5,200 pounds. Given its curb weight (4,850 pounds), fuel economy is, not surprisingly, not a strong point. EPA estimates are 16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway.

Our GMC tester logged 16 mpg overall. For many buyers, part of the rationale for buying this class of vehicle is the all-season confidence of All Wheel Drive. The GMC system is automatic, requiring no input from the driver. Torque is distributed between the front and rear wheels, based on surface conditions, wheel speed and throttle response. Acadia shrugged off the last of winter's snow that I encountered during my week behind the wheel, providing stable traction. And when roads were dry, Acadia exhibited good ride quality and predictable handling.

This is a big vehicle, and like any crossover in this class, drivers must take care when navigating in close quarters. Acadia is offered in five trim levels: SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and the top-ranging Denali. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions are available with prices starting at $34,050, and topping out at $45,945.

My test vehicle was an SLT-1 with AWD. It had an as-delivered price of $47,165. Regardless of trim level, one of GMC's 2013 Acadia's strengths is its versatile interior. This flexibility allows the owner to quickly configure the crossover to handle more people, more cargo, or a combination of both. All Acadia models have three row seating, with capacity for seven to eight passengers. The second-row seat is a bench on base models, replaced by a pair of captain's chairs on all other trim levels (though the bench is still available optionally). Second row seats slide up and back to allow access to the third row, as well as adjust legroom to accommodate passengers in the back rows. The second row can be set to hold 6 footers easily, leaving enough room in row three for kids or smaller adults. Cargo capacity ranges from 24.1-cu.-ft. (3rd row up), to 70.1 cu.-ft. (3rd row folded) and finally, 116.1 cu.-ft. (2nd and 3rd rows folded).

Seatbacks fold to a flat, load floor and there's enough width between the wheel wells to accommodate a sheet of plywood. Acadia sits lower than many big SUVs and as a result this is an easy vehicle to get in and out of. The dash is covered in soft-touch materials and the interior has a well-crafted look and feel. With the amount of features offered in the typical large crossover comes a typically large number of controls. Part of the automaker's task is to simplify dash designs to avoid driver distractions. In Acadia, they've mostly succeeded. HVAC controls are fairly straight forward with a mix of rotary knobs and buttons. A centrally placed touch screen provides access to many infotainment features. This includes the available Navigation system and IntelliLink, which integrates online services and can also be engaged through Bluetooth enabled phones or by voice commands. Circling the touch screen are various buttons for other functions.

The problem is that these are capacitive, rather than resistive controls. They need to sense the electrical charge in your fingertips in order to respond. So, unless your work gloves have conductive material on the finger tips, your taps will go unheeded - an example of technology trumping practicality. V

isibility in Acadia is generally good, though it suffers from a rear blind spot common to most crossovers. This is caused by the second row headrests, but when those seats aren't occupied the driver can adjust the headrests to bow out of the way.



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