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The 2007-2011 GMC Acadia is an eight-passenger crossover utility vehicle designed to challenge the likes of the Honda Pilot and Ford Flex. Mechanically identical to the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, the GMC Acadia is the most conservatively styled of the three, which holds strong appeal to those who appreciate simple clean lines and minimal flash. The Acadia is offered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, comes standard with three-row seating and is filled with clever features created to make long family vacation travel a little less stressful.

 

Why You Want It

If you think the only the way you can accommodate yourself, your spouse and the four kids is to buy a minivan, check out the 2007-11 GMC Acadia. With seating for up to eight passengers, the Acadia can certainly accommodate like a minivan, and its available second-row captain's chair seating is perfect for quickly and easily anchoring child safety seats, or perhaps more importantly, separating moody teenagers who need their space. The Acadia's third-row seat provides plenty of adult sized head and legroom, and, unlike many of its competitors, the Acadia retains a sizable cargo hold (just over 24 cubic-feet) when the third-row seat is in place. One-touch fold and sliding second-row seats aid entry, while cup holders and power sockets abound. The same can be said for the long list of purposeful options such as the rear-seat DVD entertainment system and removable second-row console. Little details, such as a slot just below the driver's side footrest to accommodate the high heels of a woman's dress shoe, show how much the Acadia's design team sweated the details. The Acadia also features the OnStar telematics system, which includes access to Turn by Turn navigation, Automatic Crash Response and Vehicle Diagnostics. And, while it can't off-road like a Jeep Commander or tow heavy loads like a full-size Chevrolet Suburban, the Acadia can handle 90 percent of what families ask from their vehicles, and it offers a smoother ride and better handling than any truck-based SUV.

 

Notable Features & Options

For model years 2007-2010, there are two trims and two package options: SLE and SLT, with SLT-1 and SLT-2 equipment packages. In 2011, the base SL and luxurious Denali trims are added. SLE models features a 60/40 split second-row bench seat (three passenger) while the SLT-1 models get two captain's chairs. Standard equipment includes OnStar, an AM/FM stereo with CD, air conditioning, cruise control, 18-inch painted wheels, and power functions for the windows, door lock and mirrors. Available features vary by trim and model year and include tri-zone automatic air conditioning, leather seating, six-way power driver's and four-way power passenger seats, a power rear liftgate, HID headlamps, Bose audio, Bluetooth, Dual SkyScape panoramic glass moonroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, head-up display, rear backup camera, navigation, heated outside mirrors, heated seats, ultrasonic rear park assist, and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. Many of the SLT options are standard on the Denali trim, which also features heated and cooling front seats, 20-inch wheels, chrome mesh grille and special Denali badging and trim. Standard safety equipment on all Acadia models includes front side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, StabiliTrak electronic traction and stability control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system.

 

Model Milestones

2008 ? Panic Brake Assist, which increases braking force in emergency braking situations, is made standard. Other new features include XM Satellite Radio, a second-row center console and improvements to the traction control system. A rear backup camera is added to the options list.

2009 ? The Acadia's 3.6-liter V6 gains gasoline direct injection, a system that improves both horsepower and fuel economy. Bluetooth, Turn by Turn Navigation and XM NavTraffic are offered for the first time.

2010 ? New features include a center console USB port, new 20-inch wheels, and a Yukon Denali-style roof rack.

2011 ? The Denali trim joins the lineup. New features on SLE include an available eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support and heated cloth seats.

 

Engines and Performance

The Acadia has only one engine choice: a 3.6-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. From 2007 to 2008, the engine produced 275 horsepower and 251 pounds-feet of torque: after 2009, gasoline direct injection boosts output to 288 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque. Despite the Acadia's considerable weight, the V6 does a good job moving the big CUV, even when fully loaded. Fuel economy for the front drive model is rated at 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway, while the all-wheel drive model returns 16 and 23 respectively. We did find the six-speed automatic to be a bit sluggish delivering shifts, but it does a good job of finding and holding the right gear. The Acadia's road manners are superb, with excellent ride quality, responsive steering and one of the best stability control systems we've tested. If there is one drawback to the Acadia, it's the vehicle's tow rating of 5,200 pounds. While this is far better than the Honda Pilot or Ford Flex (both limited to 4,500 pounds), GMC owners used to the stump-pulling power of the V8-powered Envoy Denali and Yukon XL may be disappointed.

 

Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2007-2011 GMC Acadia.

2007- 08 ? Recalls were issued for a possible defective front airbag sensor and for a possible failure of the windshield wiper linkage due to excessive buildup of snow or ice.

2007-09 ? Recalls were issued relating to a bad circuit board in the heated wiper fluid system that resulted in two recalls. After the first recall failed to fix the problem, GM recalled and removed the devices from all Acadia models.

2009 ? A recall was issued for a possible defective transmission cable clip that could cause the shift lever indicator and actual gear selected to not match.

2009 -10 ? Recalls were issued for possible improperly installed rear seat belts, and a possible problem with the second row seat belts getting caught up on the folding seat mechanism.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

As for safety, NHTSA gives the Acadia excellent scores, netting five out of five stars for the driver and passenger in both the front and side-impact crash tests. The Acadia earns four out of five stars in the rollover crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also gives the 2007-11 GMC Acadia high marks, with its highest rating of GOOD achieved in the offset front-end crash test, the side-impact crash test and the roof strength crash test.

The 2007-2011 GMC Acadia carries a 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty. GMC also offers additional coverage on its Certified Pre-Owned Acadias, extending the factory coverage to as much as 7-years/84,000 miles. All GMC CPO vehicles are less than five years old and have less than 75,000 miles on them; they also come with a 3-day/150 mile money back or exchange guarantee.

 

Word on the Web

Looking at Consumer Reports.com's findings, we suggest you steer clear of the 2007 mode,l as it seems to suffer from first year bugs. 2009 and later models score much better marks for engine, transmission, climate and suspension. J.D. Powers seconds CR's findings, giving the Acadia only average marks for reliability. Owners love the Acadia's versatile interior, voice activated OnStar programs and the luxurious looking interior materials. The Acadia's massive interior gets a big thumbs-up from owners who regularly carry lots of equipment or hardware for weekend projects. But, there are a number of complaints about the slow shifting automatic transmission, the numerous interior rattles that develop over time, and fuel consumption figures lower than the EPA estimates.

 

Competitive Set

There are a number of competitors that can give the Acadia a run for its money. The Honda Pilot can seat eight and its resale and reliability ratings are far better than the Acadia's. However, the Pilot's third-row seat is much smaller than the Acadia's, and it doesn't have nearly as much cargo space behind the third seat. The Pilot also has some quirky packaging restrictions such as the inability to have the navigation option and the rear seat DVD player together. The Ford Flex is a newer model than the Acadia, offering such cool options as the SYNC entertainment and communication system as well as more distinctive exterior design. Although the Flex does have more rear seat legroom, the Acadia's cargo area is bigger than in the Flex, and the Acadia has more horsepower and ground clearance. The Hyundai Veracruz offers three-row seating, has and equally plush interior and a better warranty, while the Mazda CX-9 provides a sportier ride. But, neither the Hyundai nor Mazda can match the Acadia's spacious third-row seat, horsepower or towing abilities.

 

Auto Trader Recommendations

We like the Acadia SLT-1 and SLT-2 trims best. They are usually fully loaded, but don't cost that much more than a nicely equipped SLE in the used market place. We would definitely steer clear of the 2007 model, preferring instead the 2009 and newer Acadias which have the more powerful V6 engine, more features (like Bluetooth and a USB port for external music storage devices) and a better resale and reliability record. Also, unless you live in a place where all-wheel drive is a must have, the front drive model is preferable, getting better fuel economy and providing good winter traction thanks to the electronic traction and stability control systems.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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