There are few brands with whom I’ve been as excited to partner as I am with General Motors. Because it’s in my DNA.
And just when I thought I was part of a three-generation GM family, it turns out that it’s actually four generations, so my mom told me the other day when I brought home a shiny GMC Acadia for the ultimate test drive: an entire week (March Break, no less) going here, there and everywhere.
I won’t wax on about my affinity for GM vehicles, lest I get too emotional and fry my laptop with dripping tears. Especially because there’s just so much to say about the 2015 Acadia and I’d like to get this post published in 2015.
I’ve included a slideshow at the end of this review to showcase some of my fave features, but let’s start with what I loved and what I think could use some extra thought.
One upfront note before we d(r)ive in: if you’ve come looking for information about torque or how many litres this bad boy gets to the mile (er, kilometre) or anything to do with horses and their power, this is the wrong review for you. Please go back to Google. I don’t know about any of these things. But if you’re a parent who wants to know if the GMC Acadia can prevent your kids from duking it out in the back seat and if a stroller fits in the trunk, please read on.
Coming from a Chevrolet Equinox, which I’ve been driving for nearly eight years, I was a bit worried that the GMC Acadia would feel big. I mean, it’s a seven-seater and I’ve never driven anything that can cart around that many humans before. Fortunately, it felt remarkably similar to my Equinox; technically, the Acadia is still a crossover vehicle according to GM, so perhaps it’s that “big” feeling that moves something into the SUV category.
Just like my Equinox, the GMC Acadia drives like a car. And despite its extra size, it’s still just as easy to park with confidence.
Even though the GMC Acadia isn’t that much more expensive than my Equinox, it feels MILES more luxurious. Now, part of that is down to the fact that I was provided with one featuring a Denali package, but there’s a clear difference.
Let me start with my personal experience in the driver’s seat:
- I felt like I fit really well in it, and I simply loved having all of the extra room to get comfy — on either side of my arms and above my head, all very noticeable. Even Big B didn’t fit too badly in the passenger side (and at 6’6″ and 300 lbs., that’s an accomplishment)
- The automatic controls to get the seat and steering wheel in just the right positions for my body and preferences were a welcome change from the minimal customization I get in my current vehicle
- The hologram-like image that subtly shows your speed between the dashboard and the horizon — right on your windshield glass — is incredible and it’s one of the key features I miss the most. I love being able to see my exact speed at all times without taking my eyes off the road for even a second. And when you’re operating the navigation system, your turn-by-turn directions appear here, too. These are called “head-up controls” and it’s going on my must-have list when we buy our next vehicle
- Everything is in just the right spot, from the two cup holders to the USB port right beside the “cigarette lighter” charging outlet (does anyone ever actually get cigarette lighters anymore?). And, hey — there’s a USB port!
- Dual climate control. A must when you have a husband who never seems to feel cold
- Power-heated (and cooled) seats. Because winter sucks and because my bum appreciates being toasty
- The rear-vision camera can’t be beat. Though I still didn’t master using only the screen to guide me backing into a parking spot, I felt so much safer backing out of my driveway across a sidewalk that’s usually laden with small children. A friend of mine had a neighbour who killed his own child by accidentally backing over him with the family car, and that story sticks in my mind every single time I back out
- I didn’t have cause to use OnStar services, but they were there and I liked knowing that at the touch of a button I could be connected with someone should I need help
- The pick-up is amazing, especially considering the GMC Acadia is not a small or light vehicle. So if it’s 5:55 and your kids are at one of those daycares that charges $1 a minute for every minute you’re late after 6 p.m., all I’m going to say is that if you have an Acadia, you can make it
- The windshield wipers are fantastic! (Note to self: get new windshield wipers)
- Two of my very, very, VERY favourite features on the Acadia are sound- and light-based: first, when there’s a vehicle in either blind spot, a little “don’t crash!” icon pops up in the upper-outside corners of each side mirror; and, second, if a vehicle in front of you slams on the brakes and you don’t do the same immediately, there’s a sensor that knows you need to be alerted and signals you with a loud “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” and makes a little flash on your windshield (around the same spot as where your speed appears). I do a lot of highway driving and this alert helped me on at least four occasions during my one-week test drive
The entertainment system worked out really well with the kids, and whether you agree with screen time at home or not, I think we can all agree that on road trips, that little screen that drops from the ceiling is like pennies from heaven. Better still? There’s a second-row entertainment system that allows the kids to watch what they’re watching or listen to their own music using headphones, while you enjoy your own mommy music in the front seat.
Although I swore I would never get a sunroof again, this test driving may have changed that. Not one but two sunroofs grace the GMC Acadia. But that’s not what turned it all around for me: it’s the screens that can be open or closed while the roofs are open. They cut the wind noise dramatically and also help prevent that sweeping gush of wind that can ruin even the best blowout in less than five minutes on the road.
Gas consumption was pretty darn good! Again, bigger vehicle so I assumed it would be worse on gas than my Equinox, but this really wasn’t the case. I drove to and from Toronto twice (making many intra-city stops each time), to the GO Station and back, and all around Durham Region and Clarington (sprawling!) getting the kids to school and activities. The tank lasted me a good four or five days, and I filled up within two minutes of the gas warning light coming on and it was only about $65 to fill the tank (gas that day was about $1.03 per litre). I was impressed.
There are cup holders built into the doors in the second row! This is genius. It’s like the designers know that too many kids’ car seats and boosters are lacking cup holders of their own, and want to help protect your beautiful vehicle from the wrath of an angry four year old who has a penchant for throwing anything she’s holding when happy/sad/frustrated/mad. Having a cup holder is a necessity with Miss Q in the house.
When we get our next vehicle, I now know for certain that I’ll be getting captain’s chairs in the second row. First off, reaching around The K Man’s high-back booster seat to do up his seatbelt was notably easier than in my Equinox or in Big B’s pickup truck. Plus, the extra space between the kids made for great loose storage, and my kids weren’t as easily able to irritate each other because they had that physical separation of space. Yes, this choice means you go from seating eight people to seating seven, but if it means World War: Kid Edition doesn’t break out on the way to the grocery store, I’m good with that.
Although the trunk is on the smaller side when the third-row seating is erect, the seats fold down quickly and easily, churning out a PILE of trunk space. Oh, and the super-handy trunk opener on the key fob became my new best friend. Because you know as a parent that you’re carrying way more than any person should. In one trip. There’s even a secret storage space behind the third row under the floor of the trunk.
Speaking of the trunk, you’ll be glad to know that an UPPAbaby Vista stroller (with a piggyBACK board attached!) fits perfectly fine in the Acadia’s trunk without folding either of the third-row seats down.
With the front seats moved all the way back to accommodate long legs, kids in car seats and boosters whose legs aren’t long enough to flop down 90 degrees at the knees are going to feel cramped.
The touch-screen dashboard is nowhere near as sensitive to touch as, say, a tablet or mobile phone. So I found myself frustrated on more than one occasion that it just wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted it to do.
The exterior shape in the rear end seems to have changed this year, and I happen to prefer the older shape. It’s more streamlined now, but if it gets much more square, I fear it’ll look boxy. Not a look I go for.
Voice recognition (such as when setting up GPS co-ordinates) is spotty at times.
While I adore the rear-vision camera, the warning beeps alerting me to a vehicle (or wall, or pillar) to which I was getting too close was quite conservative. It beeps slowly as you back into a spot and start getting close to hitting something, and really gets going as you inch closer and closer. But when I got out to investigate the first time I let it beep wildly, I was still at least two feet away from where I could have been without doing any damage to the car behind me.
I do wish there was something similar (even just a sensor) for the front end of the vehicle, too. I had a tough time pulling into my parking garage spot at work because I was worried the Acadia’s nose was going to kiss concrete.