Holden’s long-time-coming SUV is big, boxy and set up to please the tribe
M eet the family car poised to put an end to back seat boredom.
The new Holden Acadia has so many power outlets to keep kids preoccupied with tablets and phones they may never get the chance to moan, “Are we there yet?”
The same question could be asked of Holden for taking so long to get a full-size SUV.
The Captiva sold over the past decade was too small and the Trailblazer is too rugged.
This bold box-shaped seven-seater is Holden’s first fair-dinkum attempt at appealing to the masses. Call it Holden’s belated answer to the Ford Territory.
As you may have guessed from the design it comes from the US, where it is sold as a GMC and competes with the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Pathfinder. The biggest ace up its sleeve is interior space. The Acadia claims more cabin and cargo room than any other vehicle in its class — even though its footprint and external dimensions are slightly smaller than the Mazda and Nissan.
The biggest and most powerful petrol engine in the class, a 3.6-litre V6, is matched to a ninespeed auto that boosts acceleration and improves open road fuel economy.
The lack of a diesel could be viewed as a setback but the top two sellers — the Toyota and Mazda — are also petrol-only propositions.
There are three grades, LT, LTZ and LTZ-V, starting from $42,990 drive-away, $53,990 drive-away and $63,990 drive-away respectively in front-wheel drive format. Allwheel drive adds $4000.
This sharp introductory price is likely to continue. It means the better equipped Holden undercuts its main rivals by $1000 -3000.
All models come with autonomous emergency braking, rear view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, blind zone warning, lane keeping assistance, forward crash alert and speed sign recognition camera.
Should the worst happen, seven airbags — including a driver’s knee airbag and curtain bags covering the third row — protect occupants in a crash. ANCAP is yet to publish a safety rating.
Comfort and convenience items include a sensor key with push button start, built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio and three-zone aircon.
A tow bar and seven-pin trailer light plug are already fitted, tucked neatly behind the rear bumper on all models. Just add the neck and tow ball.
The mid-range LTZ gains leather trim, 10way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, eight-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat (both seats heated), wireless phone charging and front sensors in addition to the rear beepers, among other add-ons.
The flagship LTZ-V — which Holden is dubbing the successor to the Caprice limousine — comes with the lot: 20-inch alloys, twin sunroofs, radar cruise control, 360-degree camera, eight-speaker premium Bose audio, heated and ventilated front seats, 10-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat and adaptive suspension. The list goes on.
All grades have a space-saver spare stashed under the rear cargo floor. It’s a chore to access.
Most rivals have temporary spares that are easier to get to. If you want a full-size spare, the Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are for you.
Service intervals are 12 months/12,000km. pay $817 for the first three years or 36,000km, or $1176 over four years or 48,000km.
ON THE ROAD
The large glass area gives the Acadia excellent outward vision all around, making it easy to manoeuvre in car parks. The turning circle is tight for a large SUV, at 11.8m identical to its rivals. There is ample storage in the centre console, glovebox and door pockets. The sun visors extend to block side glare.
The middle row has a handy slide-out storage tray under the centre console, above which are aircon controls and two USB ports; there are three 12V sockets up front and two in the cargo hold.
Shoulder and legroom in the second row are class-leading, according to brochure figures.
Access to the third row is via tilting and sliding the second-row seat; there’s enough room for an adult to squeeze through.
Sitting in the third row, my 178cm frame had a surprising amount of clearance for my head, shoulders, knees and toes.
You could comfortably fit the in-laws in the last row without causing an international incident. Kids should have no reason to complain, not that that will stop them.
The engine is perky by class standards and, to be frank, even compared to a V6 sedan. Even on gentle throttle the Acadia wants to get up and go, though it’s not over-sensitive.
Having ample power on tap means the front tyres can struggle to find grip if you floor the throttle, prompting the steering wheel to wriggle in your hands. The Acadia is not alone in this regard and you soon adjust your driving style.
This trait is common to front-drive and AWD versions. Unless you select all-paw mode, the AWD hardware is deployed on demand.
The 18-inch wheel and tyre package on the LT and LTZ is the most comfortable over bumps and the steering is smooth and accurate.
However, the all-terrain rubber doesn’t have quite as much grip in tight bends as some other SUVs. The flagship LTZ-V is better in corners thanks to its road-biased 20-inch wheels and low profile tyres but it’s a touch busier over bumps.
The brakes work fine around town but, as noted on the media preview drive, you’d be well advised not to punish them on long downhill sections, as the Acadia has the smallest discs among its peers.
The speed sign recognition camera works well and the high resolution digital instrument readout has a crisp display (the vehicle speed display could be a bit bigger).
The base model, to complete what is already an impressive starting package, might benefit from front parking sensors.
The Acadia is a handsome, roomy, wellequipped, sharply priced family car that’s also decent to drive.