The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: GMC's Acadia has robust room, not enough vroom

The GMC Acadia is a midsize crossover that seats seven and belongs to the class of vehicles that function (and look) like station wagons, despite being labeled SUVs. Our tester was the more upscale Denali trim. The Acadia is the GM cousin to the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.

Appearance: The Denali trim brightens the base Acadia quite a bit. The body-color front and rear fascias are an improvement to the black plastic of the lower Acadia trims. There's also a silver-tone grille, 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, chrome trim and dual exhaust tips. Lyra liked the angled headlights that dip near that grille, and the fog light "dimples" beneath them. Overall effect? An aggressive stance with a bit of character.

Performance: The 3.6-liter, 288-horsepower V-6 seems to pull above its weight, providing plenty of torque and acceleration. We found the ride of our front-wheel-driver (AWD also is available) to be smooth, and despite its height, the Acadia didn't feel top-heavy. (The Acadia has a carlike unibody chassis.) The steering feel is responsive. Our one complaint: Even though the six-speed transmission shifts smoothly, it is slow to respond when you need quick acceleration for interstate passing. The mpg, an estimated 16/23, isn't great, but then it's an almost 5,000-pound vehicle.

Interior: The quiet interior seems even more expansive thanks to a double-pane sunroof. The perforated leather seats, which can be heated or cooled, are comfortable. As parents, we appreciated the easy access to the backseats. With second-row captain's chairs, all the kids need to do is hop in and walk through the center aisle to get to the third row, which is comfortable and even okay for adults (at least around town.) The second- and third-row seats fold down to provide a maximum cargo capacity of 116.9 cubic feet. We also liked that you can adjust the opening height for the power lift gate. Our tester had the technology package, which includes an entertainment system (just one screen, though) for rear passengers. Our main complaint about the cabin is simply one of materials; the "wood" trim looks more like fake laminate and there is too much "budget" plastic, especially in a center console that Peter felt was on the flimsy side. The driver's rear view can also be compromised, and the Acadia is the prime candidate for a blind-spot warning system; instead, you'll have to make do with "spotter" mirrors within the side mirrors.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Color: The White Diamond Tricoat is worth the extra $795.

Head-up display: This is one of our favorite GM features.

Grille: The chrome honeycomb grille is one of the sharpest on the market.

Lyra Solochek

Personality: The Denali trim's body kit and wheels give the crossover a more aggressive, flashy look.

Towing: Pull as much as 5,200 pounds. And the hitch is hidden discreetly when not in use.

Quiet: The cabin has sound insulation and laminated glass.

The bottom line: The GMC Arcadia crossover is a capable minivan alternative with easy access to rear seats. But you'll pay a premium for this Denali trim. Looking for a less-expensive family hauler? Try Chevy's Traverse.

2012

GMC Acadia Denali

Price: $32,605 base, $43,880 Denali start, $48,820 as tested

Powertrain: 3.6-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic, FWD

Horsepower: 288 at 6,300 rpm

Torque: 270 pound-feet at 3,400 rpm

Curb weight: 4,656 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 118.9

Length, 201.1

Width, 78.9

Seats: 7

Fuel economy:

16 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded

Safety features: StabiliTrak, ABS, airbags, parking assist, "spotter" mirror, OnStar (crash response, crisis assist and emergency services)

Website: gmc.com/acadia

The Daily Drivers: GMC's Acadia has robust room, not enough vroom 12/09/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 12, 2011 12:53pm]

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