One of the grassroots favorites of the Detroit Auto Show was General Motors’ GMC Acadia, one of its three new crossover SUVs built on the innovative Lambda platform. Along with the Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook, the GMC Acadia combines a low-slung, responsive, unibody chassis with a roomy SUV interior. The Acadia seats up to 8 passengers, and its second and third seats fold down to provide 117 cubic feet of cargo space.
Acadia’s interior feels as spacious as a Chevy Tahoe’s, but it handles much more like a car than a truck. GMC took a significant gamble on the new platform, and the new models based on it: would drivers go for smaller, sleeker crossovers after the “bigger is better” SUV craze of the late 1990s and early 2000s? Based on the feedback from industry critics and Auto Show attendees, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
It’s easy to give up a bit of size when you can see the savings at the gas pumps. The Acadia’s EPA mileage ratings are 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, which is something of a relief for the aching wallets of the fuel-thirsty Tahoe and Yukon owners. And it’s painless to go smaller when you’ve got just as much cabin space and almost as much cargo capacity on your nimble new platform.
And the Acadia apparently drives like a dream. In the words of the Detroit News‘s John McCormick, “…it is so compelling….for taut and responsive driving qualities uncommon in a vehicle of this class.” The buzz is that it has a great turning ratio, tight and solid cornering, and a stop-on-a-dime braking system.
GM was a bit late to the crossover SUV party in the first place, and the two-year engineering delays on the Lambda platform had a lot of industry-watchers apprehensive about whether the General Motors brands would be able to crack this growing market. The GMC Acadia, though, may well have been worth waiting for.
USA Today critic James Healey’s love letter to the Acadia is here. If you want to hear firsthand from Acadia owners, GM’s started a forum.