The scenery around Sedona is monumental— red rock buttes reach up to the sky from the pine forest. Steep canyon walls give the place a feeling of sanctuary, and it’s the kind of place where one could seemingly sit forever in thrall to the natural beauty. But then, after an hour of waiting for lunch to be served, everyone is back to staring at their screens and the head waiter keeps whispering ominously in the ear of the maitre’d. Ah paradise, how fleeting your charms can be on an empty stomach. And while it was no one’s fault, well maybe the restaurant’s, after a quick bit it was time to mount up in my trusty steed (for a few days) the 2017 GMC Acadia.
On this trip we took GMC’s all new Acadia all over the American southwest, from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, to historic Route 66 and finally glittering Las Vegas. This is a slightly softer-looking GMC, a family friendly hauler that is 318 Kg. lighter, more efficient, and aimed at the heart of midsize crossover segment.
GMC has added a raft of available active safety features, including Front Pedestrian Braking and Surround Vision Camera to the Acadia, and the car feels solid, inspiring confidence and comfort. Granted, the road noise seemed a tad loud at times, and the ride quality could be a tad jarring on rougher roads, but that just leaves a little head room for the Cadillac.
I spent my time with the Acadia Denali with its new new, Continuously Variable Ride Control, a close cousin of Magnetic Ride Control. This iteration is full of technology, with its twin clutch AWD system and the ability to run the car in FWD for fuel savings. The car will so 11.2 L/100km on the combined cycle for the FWD models and 11.7 L/100km for AWD. Our region gets the 310 HP 3.6L V6 powertrain, which gives the Acadia plenty of go when you need it, but doesn’t feel particularly forceful during normal duties.
Some of that’s down to the 6-speed automatic transmission, a step down from the 8-speed in the XT5. But GM has an answer for that: the six is better for towing. I didn’t have a boat, or an XT5 handy, so I can’t confirm or deny this assertion.GMC says the Acadia offers 1800 Kilograms of estimated trailering capability (with the available towing package). Anyway, the six is decent enough, and I found it to be fairly seamless, allowing me to “shift by throttle” more or less.
Inside, all Acadia trim levels get appealing interior color and trim combinations and incorporate aluminum trim for a premium vibe. As this is a family friendly crossover, the 50/50-split third-row seat folds flat for a completely flat load floor behind the second row and when the second row is folded, there is 2,237 liters of cargo room.
Levers at the rear of the vehicle make it easier to fold the second- and third-row seats. The rear of the center console, features a pull-out storage drawer for all your goodies and is accessible to rear-seat passengers and allows items such as electronic devices and small toys to be stored out of sight, for greater security and reduced clutter. The new Acadia also gets a standard rear seat alert that can remind the driver when an item may have been left in the second- and third-row seats. Additionally, all three rows offer USB charge ports for compatible electronic devices.
The new Acadia is more refined than some of it’s tougher looking GMC cousins, but stays true to the family resemblance overall. Design cues like the chrome-trimmed grille, squared off and flared wheel arches and a wraparound rear side windows with dark D-pillars make it clear that this is a GMC, but one that is slightly more inclined to attend a Streisand concert.
“The all new Acadia has a very commanding presence on the road driven by muscular forms that give the vehicle a very planted and confident stance,” said Matt Noone, director, GMC Exterior Design. “The new design does a great job of projecting the message that Acadia has new levels of refinement, capability and performance in store for our customers.” We’d tend to agree, and the move seems on trend for the crossover buying market— in a segment that is meant to appeal broadly, a little less mance is par for the course.
The Acadia has an architectural smoothness with its dimensional grilles and wraparound headlamps, and manages to look ready for business or pleasure. Its confident, refined appearance is augmented with LED signature lighting, as with all GMCs, so you’ll see ‘em coming from far away from dusk till dawn.
Speaking of dusk, it was almost dark when I angled my shiny Acadia up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and stared off into the vibrant abyss. Acadia might look a tad less like it’s supposed to be leading an expedition down to the Colorado River, that muddy brown string of water that yet carves the canyon floor.
But the truth is, you can drive seven people, hopefully a few of them on the smaller side, right up to a natural wonder like this is comfort and style, tunes blaring on Apple Carplay, AC keeping everyone at the optimal temperature. Some SUVs are meant to conquer nature, and while the Acadia can do a bit of that, it’s more about attending to human nature— proving the ability to get from A to Z with all the creature comforts you could answer.
In that regard, I have no doubt that the new Acadia is a success. This is a car that is equally happy staring down one of the world’s natural wonders as it is cruising the streets of Vegas, an unnatural wonder is ever there was one. From desert to Dolce and Gabana in the span of two days— sound familiar Dubai?
By: Adel Habib