Acadia is the halo vehicle for Holden New Zealand’s new-found ability to source vehicles from anywhere a General Motors product is built and the full size seven-seater’s origins make it the perfect ‘hero’ vehicle for our market.
And while Acadia may be badged as a Holden, it’s more accurately identified as a GMC product, the truck division of General Motors. Acadia itself is built at the GMC plant in Tennessee, though under the bonnet is a familiar powerplant. Acadia runs the same 3.6-litre V6 as the ZB Commodore, though it has been re-tuned, delivering 231kw at rpm and an extremely useable 367Nm of torque for its Acadian application. The engine delivers a smooth but inexorable amount of drive which reflects the Acadia’s physical presence, and the Acadia – regardless of the beholder’s personal taste – has presence. The sweeping curves and flowing lines we are so used to seeing are few and far between on the Acadia, which instead has a chunky and squared off look overall, right down to the wheel arches. In its home country, Acadia would definitely be considered on the small side. Indeed, even here, up against Holden vehicles such as the Trailblazer, Acadia is not as domineering as one would expect. When you compare Acadia to the likes of the Escalades and Suburbans, it really is not that huge, but when you see it for the first time, it surely looks it. It’s only when you park alongside something else, like the Holden Trailblazer, that you realise the Acadia is to it as Stallone is to Schwarzenegger (in his prime). Inside, Acadia is all about refinement, from the soft touch dash, to the sophisticated two-tone cabin colour (lighter on the top), to the fabrics used – it’s all about making the vehicle as plush as possible, which, let’s face it, for a family wagon is just what you need. Acadia has a sophisticated second row of seats with access to the two fast charging USB ports and the first two rows are heated and cooled. Acadia further extends its cabin parameters by bringing the outside in via the massive moonroof overhead. But for most buyers, the important seat is the driver’s one and after many hours in the saddle Pilgrim, I can – hand on heart – attest to its drive all day comfortability. How so? I have the distinct honour of being the only motoring writer in the country to log over 900kms in a production Acadia, and that was done in one day. For more details, see the NZSUV Annual accompanying this edition. So before anyone says, “yes, but even a week in the Acadia isn’t going to be testament to long distance comfort,” doing a 900-plus km trip in a day most assuredly is. And there wasn’t a leg cramp in evidence. There is of course, plenty to occupy the driver’s attention – you know, that 10 per cent of your brain that’s not focused on the mechanics of driving – on longer trips. Holden’s Mylink infotainment system is right at home nestled in among the Acadia’s cabin, though in fairness, the faux timber surrounding the shifter could probably be dispensed with. Still, this vehicle was named for a National Park, so a little bit of wood-like trim is to be expected. The Acadia has more boot space than most when in full occupancy configuration, but the simple expedient of losing two passengers and dropping the rearmost seats turns Acadia into a very spacious five-seater with holiday hauling capacity out to the back of beyond. Getting to the back of beyond is achieved through the simple act of twisting a dial. Acadia runs front-wheel-drive for the most part and can be switched over on-the-fly to AWD using the rotary dial next to the shifter. This not only allows AWD capability, it gives access to the Sport mode and a setting to improve towing capability. Will the Acadia settle into the New Zealand automotive landscape? We think yes, and that won’t even necessarily be contingent on its price which was still under wraps at the time this publication was going to print. Of course, if Holden NZ can keep it on the low side of $70,000, there will be greater potential for more sales. If the price can be kept down, NZ consumers will be more likely to be positively influenced by Acadia’s originality. There is a 2WD model Acadia available which is tipped at being the entry level in terms of price. To us, this does smack of ordering a Supersized meal with a diet soda, but perhaps Holden's thinking is that an entry level Acadia makes the full noise one that much more aspirational.