It's time to put down the sawzall, welder, plasma cutter, and grinder for just a moment! On Wednesday, July 12, 2006, GMC revealed its first crossover, the 2007 GMC Acadia. For many of us custom truck enthusiasts, who consider power steering and working air conditioning luxurious and power accessories as custom upgrades, the Acadia stands as a pleasant surprise.
First off, I'm pretty sure the name Acadia will not be this crossover SUV's best selling feature. It is not particularly attention-grabbing, and in trying to figure out what it means, I came across several words associated with Acadia, including: Acadia National Park; Acadia University in Nova Scotia; ACADIA Pharmaceuticals; Acadia Parish, Louisiana; Acadia, Maine; Acadia, a French-given name to a colonial territory in northeastern North America in the 17th century; and most relevant here, the GMC Acadia.
Many consumers want the sporty, adventurous, hardcore look and security of an SUV, but in reality never go off-roading. This is where the crossover GMC Acadia fits in perfectly. I believe its sporty (yet not too ostentatious) design combined with a pleasant, smooth driving experience on an automobile platform will appeal nicely to the country's fast-growing crossover market. The advantages of crossovers, being handling, economy, and cost, to name a few, contribute to the recent surge in crossovers. Since the gas-guzzling SUV is not exactly convenient, efficient, or easy to handle around town, and the family minivan seems outdated and tarnishing to an image that frankly does matter in the American car culture, the Acadia certainly stands as a viable option. It is also a fresh and modern alternative to the traditional family sedan, which might be able to fit an average family, as long as they're not heading out of town. Our current family sedan will probably be replaced by some type of "large wagon" eventually.
GMC's crossover SUV Acadia prides itself in having an "athletic design," which I find to be a clever adjective because it looks sporty, sleek, aerodynamic, almost aggressive, and is aesthetically comfortable to look at. However, most of the competitors could be described this way as well, and one comment could be that this GMC crossover is different, just like all the others! The rear spoiler, chrome-tipped dual exhaust, six standard safety airbags, LED taillamps, dual halogen projector headlamps (HID available), oversized dual SkyScape sunroof, 6 lug wheels, vented rear disks, and standard 18 inch rims (with 19's available) with a tire pressure monitoring system, add some bling. I was fascinated by the audio controls in the rear cargo area, useful for your tailgate party needs. Hopefully these controls aren't damaged by cargo.
The Acadia utilizes a body-frame integral (BFI) structure, a long wheelbase (118.9 in.) and wide track (67.3 in.), which increase ride stability and handling by lowering the center of gravity. Its overall length stands at 201.1 inches, width at 78.9 inches, and height at 72.8 inches. Key competitors include vehicles such as the Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango, and Ford Explorer.
The 2007 GMC Acadia is powered by a 3.6L V-6 with Variable Valve Timing and an estimated 267 horsepower, and makes the most of its Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed FWD/AWD automatic transmission. Towing capacity stands at 4500 pounds, so you can pull around your custom minitruck. The 22 gallon fuel tank is estimated to get 17/25 mpg for the FWD, and 17/24 for the AWD option. We'll have to see how accurate that is on the road and how that holds up to the competition. Curb weight stands at 4722 pounds for the FWD, and 4936 for the AWD, indicating this crossover is no lightweight, contributing to some possible fuel economy issues. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes bring the Acadia to a stop.
The Acadia handles the road via independent front and rear suspension. A MacPherson strut design with a direct-acting stabilizer bar can be found up front, and the rear suspension utilizes a linked H-arm design with an isolated mounting system to reduce road noise. Hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering guides the Acadia, and the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and traction control are standard on all models. An intelligent all-wheel drive system is available, in which no driver intervention is needed for the system to automatically decide how much torque to give the wheels.
The interior of the GMC Acadia is spacious and versatile, accommodating 7 or 8 passengers (depending on the second row option of a 60/40-split bench or two captain's chairs). A GM specialty called the Smart Slide allows the seat cushions of the second row to flip up while the whole seat moves forward so that third row passengers can enter and exit more easily. Time will tell if the Smart Slide functions consistently and properly over the vehicle's duration. Additionally, because it takes a good pull to operate, I'm not sure how easy it will be for older and younger generations to operate. The third row feels comfortable and roomy. The second and third row seats can fold completely flat, allowing 117 cubic feet of cargo room, which is a definite highlight for the Acadia. Behind the upright third seat is 19.7 cubic feet of room.
It will be interesting to see how loyal, truck-loving GMC buyers view GMC's entrance into the crossover market. Crossovers are a great idea and brands have picked up on this. However, is a GMC crossover a great idea? GMC is known for trucks, SUV's, and commercial trucks, so it will depend on if the market is willing to accept this "softer" side of GMC. Will GMC be able to keep their loyal followers while attracting a new, growing market? Is GM competing with itself by introducing similar products in the same crossover market under different badges (remember the Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook)? Finally, is there enough room within GMC for the Acadia among the Envoy, Yukon, and other truck options? I believe another strong factor will be the price range, in which I have not heard any figures thrown around yet.
All in all, the 2007 GMC Acadia looks like it's going to come standard with a variety of engineered and calculated safety, performance, and comfort options, with the goal of achieving an athletic design. With that being said, I personally wouldn't mess with the suspension or safety systems, because I believe it's the wrong vehicle for such modifications. However, big rims, bodywork, billet accessories, paint, custom interior work, and sound systems just might work out. Hopefully somebody will be different and let loose on an Acadia someday.