2008 GMC Acadia: Truck-based crossover built for work and play
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Some SUVs and crossovers are car based and others are truck based. Often it is difficult to tell which are which. You have no such problem when seeing or driving the Acadia. Oh, and it weighs about 5,000 lbs. Take one look, or drive it around the block once and you’ll know --truck.
While it is not a traditional body-on-frame truck, GMC, the General Motors division that has spent the last century building its reputation as a truck-building giant since its early years as the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, still produces trucks and truck-based SUVs, crossovers, vans and trucks that are professional grade versions of Chevrolet siblings.
First introduced in 2007, the Acadia is GMC's first unibody vehicle, similar in its dynamic to the Saturn Outlook. Those two vehicles along with the Buick Enclave, share GM’s new front-drive Lambda platform. One vehicle that becomes a series of firsts for the General’s truck badge, the Acadia is GMC’s first unibody, first crossover, and its first front-wheel-drive vehicle since it produced the GMC Motorhome from 1973-1978, though the ’08 Acadia is also available in all-wheel-drive.
As for the Acadia name, it can be traced back, in pre-automotive terms, to Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who explored the Atlantic coast of North America in 1524 for the French. His ship anchored at the approximate location where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was erected in Brooklyn, New York. Oddly, the bridge was named for him with a misspelling -- a single “z”. In his mapping of the area, Verrazzano used the Greek term “Arcadie,” or “land of plenty” to designate the Atlantic Coast from Virginia to New York. Another version of Acadia comes from the Mi’kmaq Native American language in which the word “akadie” means fertile place.
In any language, the GMC Acadia is a crossover of plenty, bringing a fertile vehicle to those wanting more in a mid-size SUV.
Assembled in Lansing, Michigan, 77% of the parts in this Acadia are made in the United States or Canada. Offering seating for up to eight and combining the capability of an SUV with a smooth ride and responsive handling. Acadia is built with comprehensive safety system, upscale trim and enough pop to provide a smooth, refined and confident ride.
At 201.1 inches long, 78.9 inches wide and 72.8 inches high with roof rails, the Acadia is brawny and athletic looking. A bright grille, large headlamps that use projector beam technology to deliver bright, precise lighting, and lots of chrome, from the door handles to dual exhaust, deliver a strong, hip appearance.
My Liquid Silver Metallic AWD test version was decked out in SLE trim and was powered by a 3.6-liter VVT V-6 engine, accompanied by a 6-speed automatic AWD transmission. The system quietly purrs out 275 hp. and 252 lbs.-ft. of torque. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 16mpg in city driving and 22mpg on the highway, but I found the Acadia to be thirstier than that, as city driving drained the tank quickly and highway driving siphoned it off steadily as my week of car tests yielded a disappointing 16.6mpg on three-to-one highway-to-city driving.
Stable on the road, the Acadia was nimble while driving in and around traffic and on curvy country roads. The multilink suspension smoothed out rough roads and allowed the 4925-lb. vehicle to provide a genteel road experience for driver and passengers in all rows. Acceleration was surprisingly good, and I was able to blow out two zero to 60 tests in 8.2 seconds each. Driver visibility was hindered, though, and blind spots are apparent on the Interstate.
Inside is a thoughtful interior, and while my test version was not particularly tricked out, it was roomy and relatively refined for the price. Comfortable with 40 inches of front row head room, 41 inches of leg room and nearly 62 inches of shoulder room, succeeding rows also offer generous space for passengers.
Standard interior features in my Ebony cabin included cloth seats with front buckets, 8-passenger seating with second- and third-row split bench seats, smart-slide second row feature, front and rear air conditioning, rear cargo storage area, prismatic rearview mirror, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 format and XM Satellite radio.
One strong Acadia trait is safety. The vehicle received a perfect 5-star-rating in frontal and side crash tests and 4 out of 5 in rollover tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety features include dual frontal, head curtain side and front side impact air bags, passenger sensing system, anti-lock brake system, Stabilitrak stability control and traction control systems with rollover mitigation technology, child safety LATCH system, On-Star Directions with turn-by-turn navigation, remote keyless entry and a theft deterrent system.
My test Acadia had a base price is $31,110, and with one option package (preferred package of 6-way power driver seat, 2-way power passenger seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls for $560), and destination charges of $735, the final sticker of my test ride came in at $32,405. That certainly is a vehicle of plenty in the crossover arena.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a car guy since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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