In this review, we take a close look at GMC’s newest SUV option on the market. The 2008 GMC Acadia joins a small list of other models that share most of the in-house platform engineering, including the Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave, and soon the Chevrolet Traverse. Upon closer inspection, the Acadia seemed like a logical choice in a market that has revolved around fuel management. By no means does this new GMC set economic benchmarks in its class, but it does make a valid argument that it’s a great alternative to the “big” sport utility vehicle. Below, I’ll discuss fit and finish, ease of use, and consider some pricing ideas to further educate the consumer.
First of all, the new Acadia is a good size. Personally, I’d like to think it’s Suburban sized compared to other midsizes. The bodywork was clean, very efficient use of materials and free of any huge quality issues. GMC implemented extensive use of automotive safety technology, GMC equipped the Acadia with bright projector beam headlights, LED taillights, an engineered low center of gravity (for easier entry/exit and less body roll), and ultrasonic rear parking assist. Also coming to the party, this new off-roader was available with front-wheel drive or AWD on demand for snow/rain commuters. In turn, the Acadia fulfilled its mission of maintaining the “professional grade” rugged look while retaining a revolutionary modern look.
The Acadia is a “three-row” business, so getting to the third row may take some clever ingenuity to win over many families. Thus, the second row, on each side, folds forward in a very ingenious way so that the seat takes up as little space as possible. My 6-foot-tall self got back there very easily, and the seats were kind to the body, the floor was flat, no chest-knee action here too. The “Black Tie Audio” instrument stack was clean and very easy to understand. The front captains seats were great, no issues on those long trips with plenty of back and thigh support. My test subject also had a couple of smart devices, like an MP3 audio jack for iPods, XM Radio, Bose Primo Sound, and Touch Screen Navigation. Resulting in a mobile Swiss Army Knife of fun and functionality, it lacked very little.
My 2008 Acadia was a fully loaded AWD SLT with all the cakes and cookies. So finding all the potential warts was easy knowing I had the main cut. The standard six-speed transmission is wonderful, getting the job done without having all the long, high-rev action that’s normally a trait of four-speeds. On the other hand, the only available V6 powertrain was all turkey and chicken, very slow for an SUV this large. I think a V8 is on the way, but should have already been an option, to further appeal to the power hungry. I didn’t mind the front-wheel drive action either, making U-turns something of a bear, three lanes was the minimum roundabout. So the GMC could have improved in a couple of areas to make it more appealing to the Suburban/Expedition EL crowd.
So what is the price of the new Acadia and what additions do you get for the money? Base 2wd SLE models start at just over $30,000, while top-end SLTs go for $45,000. And expect $2,000-$3,500 between invoice and MSRP (depends on trim) when you trade. What also protects you? Well, standard is a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, one year of Onstar telematics, and an all-in 100,000-mile trim interval to justify the higher price. And so, in this price range, the Acadia is competitive in the market. But first I’d look at models like the Mazda CX-9 or maybe even the Honda Pilot to save some money. Each of those vehicles also offers three rows of seats. In conclusion, the GMC Acadia is an obvious upgrade from the old Envoy, you should have no trouble finding a niche in its class.