On a wet Wellington day, we were invited to see the new Holden Acadia in the flesh at the home of the USA Ambassador, Scott Brown.

I have to say part of the event was overshadowed by the ambassador, as he discussed some of his history including 35 years in the military (leaving as a Colonel) and also a US Senator. One of Ambassador Brown and his wife’s daughters was on American Idol and is now a well-known country music singer in Nashville, with over a dozen albums to her name.

Their home in Lower Hutt was adorned with many photos of Ambassador Brown with previous presidents as well as what felt like hundreds of photos with rock bands, many of them with Ambassador Brown on the stage with the band, electric guitar at hand.

One of his music rooms contains the drum kit from the last Kiss tour, as well as many guitars (most of them signed) from other bands.

But we weren’t there to drool over the music collection (although we did). We were there to see the new Acadia, which is sold in the USA as the GMC Acadia.

Built in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the Acadia will be Holden’s only full-size, 7-seat SUV.

We’ll only be getting the one engine option in New Zealand – a 3.5-litre V6, almost the same engine that the Commodore V6 is fitted with. Nothing wrong with that. It also has the same 9-speed automatic, which has a few updated features and intelligence for better shifting under certain conditions, like going up or down a hill. There’s also a tow/haul mode that we’ve seen on other US SUVs and pick-up trucks.

The engine itself has some hi tech features too, like cylinder deactivation to save petrol.

Holden in Australia has been heavily involved with the transition to their market and ours. This includes recalibration of things like dampers, steering and suspension. The car did spend time in New Zealand, checking to make sure it was suitable for our roads too.

When it arrives, it will be available in either a two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive version, with the two-wheel drive having 4 drive modes, and the all-wheel drive having an extra one (4×4). This means the AWD system will be switchable, so you can save fuel by turning it off.

Other features carried over from the USA includes the haptic seat we last saw in the Equinox, which vibrates the driver’s seat depending on where an impending danger comes from. So a car coming from the left while you are reversing will vibrate the left side of the seat. I rented a Chevy Tahoe with this feature and did 6,000kms in it around the southern states of the USA last year, and I have to say it’s a great system – one that should be fitted to more vehicles.

There will be lots of safety items included in the Acadia, and this includes a 360-degree high-definition reversing camera. Holden are confident this car will have the most safety features of any model they sell.

This includes roadside-edge detection, so the Acadia won’t be relying on white painted lines to make sure you are in your lane. It can recognise grass verges or other edges to the side of the road. Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) makes its first appearance on a GM product outside of Europe, a welcome addition to the safety systems. This TSR will be one of the new-generation versions which has the capability to work with the speed limiter to reduce speeding.

Apparently only New Zealand and Australia will see the Acadia in right-hand drive, so we’ve got to feel a bit special about that.

Our last thought for the day that was the Acadia brings ‘American Swagger’ to the market in the Acadia. Looking over the car and looking at it, there’s definitely some swagger there. It’s an imposing, large SUV with the Highlander firmly in its sights.

We’ll be attending the launch and getting full details of the car in the South Island in October, so more thoughts on driving it then. Pricing will also be revealed in October.

The Acadia is very much a ‘watch-this-space’ kind of car. It’s set to make waves, if the pricing is inline with the market.

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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