It’s not just Ford that should be worried, Holden’s sharply priced, well-equipped, fast and stylish seven-seater is set to shake up the large SUV market.
Big, brash, American and surprisingly good is Holden’s seven-seat Acadia.
IT’S BIG, BRASH AND AMERICAN, BUT the new Holden Acadia is surprisingly at home in New Zealand. Months in the buildup, the large seven-seat SUV finally, officially launched on October 26 to dispel any perceptions and showcase what a complete and very efficient addition it is to the large SUV market in both Australia and New Zealand, currently the only right-hand drive markets.
It’s almost unfair to compare it to its most logical rival, Ford Everest. But we’ll get to that in a moment. As the latest sevenseater entering the already crowded market of 17 existing models, the Acadia has a lot to prove and to compete, but after a comprehensive drive around Albany, north of Auckland, sampling all three models and putting it to acceleration and economy tests, the price is the final stamp on Acadia’s arrival passport.
And that’s the key drawcard, with a $49,990 starting price for the LT. All models get the same 3.6-litre petrol V6 from the Commodore offering 231kw and 367Nm – but before dismissing the petrol-only engine as thirsty, it manages impressive numbers to back it up: between 8.9-9.3l/100km depending on the FWD/AWD variant, and 0-100km/h in a tested 7.0 seconds, making it one of the quickest SUVS on sale. Our tested 8.5l/100km of mostly 100km/h zones may have flattered it a little, and though it manages the fuel savings by switching off two-cylinders during light throttle, it’s fair to expect urban numbers in the 10s.
Different selectable driving modes also help improve the driving and fuel saving, with up and downhill modes, a performance mode and a towing mode, which alters both up and downshifting when required and adjusts the sensitivity of trailer sway control.
The top-spec LTZ-V sports the same variable all-wheel drive system available across all three spec levels, and offers a combination of drive modes and torque split between front-, rear- or all-wheel drive depending if it’s, for example, cruising, accelerating or manually chosen.
Being a petrol engine, there’s plenty of response with a great spread of power and torque, though spoilt with the torque of turbo diesel engines, it needs a few revs to get the most from it: it feels slowest when wanting a quick getaway from rest, and 0-20km/h can be at times a little doughy, but for the most part, and at most speeds,
With a petrol V6, it rolls off 0-100km/h in a tested 7.0 seconds, making it one of the quickest SUVS on sale
A special feature is the second row seat that can flip forward for access to the third row, without affecting a mounted Isofix/booster seat
the Acadia is Quick with a capital!
As the most feature and tech-packed Holden on offer is a suite of tech including radar cruise and speed sign memory, the latter which isn’t even offered in the USA, AEB and cyclist detection, lateral impact avoidance, blind spot active steering and road edge protection, which detects the edge even without a white line. Even the seat vibrates on the same side as potential danger. Park Assist, rear cross-traffic alerts and a 360 degree camera, wireless/ inductive phone charging and a power tailgate all add to the advanced tech onboard Acadia.
Hitch guidance (a line down the reversing camera) is aided by hitch view camera, which offers conventional rear and downward facing views, which can be manually activated, for that bit of added reassurance when towing.
Local Australia and New Zealand tuning also helped tailor the ride and handling package, and while we found the LT/LTZ to be firm on the roads we encountered, it’s perfectly acceptable. Move into the topmodel, and the Flexride system – Holden’s name for its magnetically adjustable adaptive suspension – provides a superb mix of ride comfort and handling, without the Acadia ever feeling like it’s top-heavy or boat-like, in the traditional American perception. Even the electric power steering was tweaked to suit local conditions, making it a sharper, more competent package.
Of course, being a seven seater, the big questions relate to the second and third rows. The second trio of seats is well equipped with two ISOFIX mounting points, and the basics of a fold-down centre armrest. Climate controls and a storage bin are within reach, as are a pair of 2.1A USB ports. A special feature of the second row is the driver’s side which offers a ‘rising forward’ function, allowing a booster/isofix seat to remain in place, while allowing access to the third row. Both second row seats also tilt, slide and fold conventionally.
Into the third row, small storage bins either side and a single USB port are the ‘features’, but the most important factor is very well catered for: the seats are large, comfortable and raised off the floor, with headroom for 190cm adults, so that even big kids will be quite happy and comfortable in the third row, with good vision out the windows. There’s even a good amount of useable space in the boot with the third row raised.
So what is there not to like about the Acadia? Even on the subjective matter of styling, it’s a great looking package in person, and looks smaller than it does in pics - and drives that way too. Initially impartial, it grew on us after just a day, especially in black and chrome. Ok, maybe the aerial is a slight modern oddity, and some of the interior controls and plastics aren’t class leading, but they’re minor, personal factors. It’s not perfect, but no car is, and if ever there was an important vehicle for Holden to pin its future hopes on with the current buying shift from cars to SUVS, the Acadia is the one to pull it off.
And what about the old enemy, Ford’s seven-seat Everest? In reality it’s no competition: Acadia has a larger engine, more power, is only slightly less economical, but lighter, is faster and better equipped - and to rub it in, significantly cheaper. It’s probably the first time someone’s suggested conquering Everest was almost too easy.
Above far left: Top-spec Holden Acadia LTZV features leather, and though there is some commonality with Equinox, there’s plenty of adjustment and tech to satisfy almost anyone. Above left: Second row seats are comfortable, with centre armrest, ISOFIX mounts, climate controls and two 2.1A USB ports. Above: Third row is super comfortable, with seats raised enough to allow leg comfort, and plenty of headroom for 190cm-ers – even a USB port!