The GMC Acadia embodies the two virtues most prized by big families shopping for practical SUVs: comfortable seating for seven and reasonable gas mileage. With a highway fuel economy rating of 24 miles per gallon, the Acadia is cushioned against the next oil-price shock. At the same time, its ample seating - including nifty sliding second-row captain chairs - has room for all but the largest crews. "It's very nearly the perfect SUV," said Dwight Morgan, general sales manager of Chattanooga's Integrity Buick, GMC, Cadillac dealership. "It's designed as an SUV, not a truck. Customers say it's just the right size."
DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: Our Summit White Acadia tester came in upscale SLT-1 trim, which included such luxury touches as leather-clad seats - but not all-wheeldrive. While an SUV through and through, the comfortable crossover is not designed for heavy off-roading or hauling. If the Acadia looks familiar it might be because the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and (former) Saturn Outlook, all share the same GM-built platform. The Acadia's driving dynamics are composed and carlike. Powered by a 3.6 liter V-6, the Acadia takes advantage of a smooth six-speed transmission to deliver a refined ride.
STYLING: The Acadia is a nicely sculpted SUV with lines that belie its boxy, underlying architecture. The bold, red GMC badge on the grille accents tasteful chromework which carries through to the facia and door handles. A swept-back roof-line gives the Acadia some attitude without impeding the interior sight lines. Inside, the Acadia is functional if not opulent. Our tester came with built-in DVD (a $1,445 option) and a touchscreen navigation system, and stickered at $43,518.
TESTED MODEL: 2011 GMC Acadia SLT-1.
ENGINE: 3.6 liter, V-6.
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic.
FUEL ECONOMY: 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
BASE PRICE: $38,185.
PRICE AS TESTED: $43,518.