Live from Nashville

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - First Drive -

HOLDEN’S plans for a post Com­modore world in­volve a good dose of SUVs and a key player in this re­build­ing phase is the mid-size Aca­dia.

Built in GMC’s fac­tory in Spring Hill, south of Nashville, the V6 Aca­dia will fight for fam­ily soft-roader supremacy against the likes of the Toy­ota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9.

High­light­ing the im­por­tance of this new model, Gen­eral Mo­tors planned an ex­ten­sive drive pro­gram for jour­nal­ists that took in nearly 1300km over two days from Phoenix to Las Ve­gas with a good mix of open high­way, city/sub­ur­ban crawls, light off-road­ing and parts of Route 66, which in most places is look­ing tired and bumpy.

Un­til re­cently, GMC has fo­cused on light trucks of the Ford F-Se­ries ilk with its Sierra pick-up and Yukon models, the Mid­dle East be­ing its only ex­port des­ti­na­tion.

All that is chang­ing as Aca­dia places the GMC badge firmly in fam­ily drive­ways for the first time. Aus­tralia will be the only other ex­port mar­ket.

Not pre­tend­ing it’s the great ur­ban escape ve­hi­cle with goany­where ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the maker was keen to em­pha­sise that Aca­dia, even in All-Ter­rain AWD mode, is more cross­over than off-roader, de­signed only for the oc­ca­sional dirt track.

How­ever, one thing’s cer­tain after time be­hind the wheel — the Aca­dia is a ca­pa­ble longdis­tance tourer that would make short work of jour­neys be­tween Aus­tralia’s eastern cap­i­tals.

Solid seven and eight hour driv­ing stints in con­di­tions that were not too dis­sim­i­lar to the Hume or Pa­cific High­ways were taken in its stride with lit­tle fa­tigue and no back aches. It’s ticked box one for the Aussie fam­ily, that be­ing the an­nual hol­i­day pil­grim­age.

Pow­ered by a 231kW/ 360Nm, 3.6-litre V6 mated to GM’s Hy­dra-magic six-speed auto, it re­turned 11.6L/100km for the drive, not far from the es­ti­mate of 11.2L com­bined cy­cle for the front-driver and 11.7L for the AWD. De­spite shed­ding 318kg from the pre­vi­ous model, it re­tains a tow­ing ca­pac­ity of 1800kg.

This new model shares its chas­sis with the just re­leased Cadil­lac XT5. With that comes whole­sale im­prove­ments for road and wind noise, im­proved sta­bil­ity and ride qual­ity that will carry GM’s mid-range SUVs for the next decade.

On 18-inch and op­tional 20inch rims, the Aca­dia’s ride was more sedan than SUV with its elec­tric steer­ing pro­vid­ing more ac­cu­racy, though less feel than its com­pe­ti­tion and no­tice­ably lit­tle body roll.

All models in­clude a drive mode selec­tor. Front-drive ver­sions have Nor­mal, Snow, Sport and Trailer/Tow op­tions while the AWD vari­ant can sus­pend rear drive and has Sport, Off Road and Trailer/ Tow modes.

The All Ter­rain gets ac­tive twin-clutch AWD, which trans­fers power be­tween the four wheels in wet and icy con­di­tions as well as en­hanc­ing hill climb ca­pa­bil­ity. The top­spec, lux­ury De­nali in­cludes con­tin­u­ously vari­able ride con­trol for the sus­pen­sion.

De­nali is to GMC what HSV is to Holden, with­out the en­gine mods. It does per­son­alised in­te­rior and ex­te­rior en­hance­ment packs for the full GMC range and for Aca­dia, it rep­re­sents the more lux­u­ri­ous of the two al­ter­na­tives.

There are two or three-row seat­ing op­tions. When they are folded flat, cargo space is a mas­sive 2237L and there are two un­der­floor stor­age bins for smaller items.

Cap­tain’s chairs are op­tional in the sec­ond row in place of the bench seat but the best news is that the third row can seat a pair of 180cm adults in rel­a­tive com­fort. De­pend­ing on spec, the Aca­dia can house five, six or seven adults.

For 2017, the Aca­dia’s in­te­rior is a break­away from the usual truck-like GMC jobs, with plenty of Euro-look soft leather and tim­ber trim capped by pol­ished chrome and brushed al­loy ac­cents.

Ad­di­tion­ally the De­nali also has an eight-inch cen­tre con­sole dis­play that’s hooked up to GM’s OnS­tar sys­tem with 4G LTE con­nec­tiv­ity with its own Wi-Fi hotspot as well as Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto in­ter­faces.

Along with Trail­blazer and Colorado, Aca­dia rep­re­sents the new face of Holden after lo­cal pro­duc­tion of the Com­modore ceases late next year and it could be ar­gued that Aca­dia will ac­count for the lion’s share of those thwarted Com­modore own­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.