In a market that has grown to become over 60% of all vehicles sold, the large SUV segment has become the main stage for luxury products.
The GMC Acadia is now in its second generation and Holden has spared no time in showcasing its arrival to New Zealand with a raft of TV adverts and social media campaigns. Built for the American market, the Acadia is actually classed as a mid-sized SUV in the US. For the rest of the world, it’s probably safe to say it’s a large SUV.
Boasting 7 seats and executive grandeur, does the Acadia have what it takes to wade through and stand out in the sea of 7-seat options we already have available in New Zealand?
Holden offers 3 variants of Acadia in New Zealand, starting with the LT, the mid-range LTZ and the top of the line LTZ-V. All variants are available in 2WD only or a selectable 2WD and AWD option. The engines are the same across the entire range, a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine with Stop/Start and Active Fuel Management. Power output from this engine is 231kW and it provides 367Nm of torque. Due to the shared engine, the Acadia offers a 2000kg braked tow rating across the range.
The LT 2WD starts at $49,990 and the selectable AWD is $53,990, which is great value for a seven-seater. The LTZ 2WD is $55,990 and the selectable AWD version is $59,990. The LTZ-V 2WD starts at $67,990 and the selectable AWD, which we are reviewing is $71,990.
The spec levels offers a lot as standard across the range, with a heavy focus on driver aids. All models come with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, following distance indicator, traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed assist, Haptic safety seat alert, forward collision alert with head-up warning, lateral impact avoidance, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and side blind zone alert with rear cross Traffic Alert. That’s not a shabby selection of standard options at all.
On top of all of those features the LT comes with rear park assist and rearview camera exterior, 18” alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass, dual exhaust with chrome round tips, LED taillamps, roof rails, passive entry push-button start, satellite navigation, tri-zone climate control, driver mode control, Holden infotainment system with 8” colour touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, one-touch folding rear seats, 5 USB charging points, cargo area underfloor storage and electronic cruise control.
In addition to what the LT offers the LTZ offers front & rear park assist and rear view
camera, advanced park assist, 18” alloy wheels in midnight silver, LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, privacy glass, dual exhaust with chrome round tips, roof rails, hands-free power tailgate, leather appointed heated seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, 8-way power adjustable front passenger’s seat and wireless phone charging.
The Acadia LTZ-V is the top spec variant with all the bells and whistles, which comes with more again on top of what the LTZ offers. It offers FlexRide adaptive suspension, 360 degree camera, 20” alloy wheels, dual-panel sunroof, bi-function HID headlamps, body-colour fascias and mouldings, premium leather-appointed seats with ventilated front seats and heated front and rear seats, 10-way power adjustable front passenger’s seat, 8-speaker Bose premium audio system, adaptive cruise control and 8” colour driver information display.
All models offer a great range of features, some of which are not even standard on higher-end models from other brands. Each variant appears to offer great value, which makes them a big contender when you’re shopping around for a 7-seat SUV.
The Acadia is huge, really big, making other large SUV’s look small. The first thing that came to mind after seeing the new Acadia was that stereotypical big black SUV we see in all the FBI TV shows, the Chevy Suburban. Known well as a really large SUV, this must be New Zealand’s version.
The side and rear of the Acadia has some strong shapes and forms. Big square wheel arches over the 20inch alloy wheels, and eye-catching chrome front and rear door window surround. The front, however, has a prominent chrome front grill. This combination oozes a head-turning executive luxury style.
Our review car colour was Dark Shadow, not a bad colour combination. However, I had seen two around Wellington that was black, which looked much more like an FBI undercover Chevy Suburban, suiting the style I thought.
The Acadia is big and it means business, will my experience reflect the strong modern exterior styling?
In the driver’s seat, your first impression is big, big comfy seat and big space. It was a great seating position, with clear views all around the vehicle. The seat was really nice, just the right amount of firmness never found it hard to fit the right spot, nor did anyone else. The rest of the seats where just as good, even the third row were as good as the rest, unlike some vehicles which make the third row more like bench seats.
This Holden felt modern and fresh in every corner, even down to the driver’s display. There are still two dials either side, but the main feature was a large LCD display that dominated this area. I was really impressed with how they have designed this and laid out navigation, so simple and easy to use. And unlike many other LCD driver displays, it showed a lot more useful info at the same time, which meant you did not have to choose between one display setting or another.
The Holden Infotainment System with 8” colour-touchscreen display was great, so easy to use and familiar. It felt like I was using a large iPhone. Nice easy to read app icons, easy to use setting and functions, making every task a breeze. It took 20 seconds to pair my phone, most of the time was spent waiting for my phone to find the vehicle’s Bluetooth signal. Once it did, the rest was done in an instant. It also allows multiple phones to be connected at the same time, one can be linked as the phone and the other linked for media.
Right below the centre console was the wireless charging base, angled in and down from the dash so that it held your phone in place in the event of any bumps or sudden driver direction changes. I have a Pixel 3, which has wireless charging and I found that my phone fits really well. Charging worked every time without fail, no fumbling around trying to find the right spot for the charge to activate. THe only issue was that when it was on the base I tended to forget it was there, leaving it in the car. It would be nice to see a reminder on the dash that your phone is being charged when you turn off the vehicle.
The dual sunroofs that come as standard on the LTZ-V were great, my daughter loved them. From her rear facing baby seat, she could look out and see all sorts of things as we travelled along. She especially loved when it rained, watching the water run off it. The front sunroof is electrically controlled, to slide open or tilt open, as you would expect. The rear was just a panel, with no opening functions. Both sunroofs have manual covers that could be pulled over them to stop any light coming through, great for those hot days, which could heat up the cabin and leather if left in the sun. The only issue I found with this, was when my daughter was falling asleep, it would have been great to be able to control the sunroof covers from the front. The handle is too far back to reach for the driver and front passenger, so you need to stop, get out and close it manually.
Entering and exiting the third row is made easy by the single release button on the top of the rear seats just by the headrest. Once you have pulled this, the seat slides forward on the rails while also tilting forward to create a good opening for even adults to get in and out. Space in the rear is good, again for adults, as the second row can slide forward to allow for more leg room. Due to the space inside the Acadia, the second row has ample leg room, even when you adjust for taller passengers in the third row. One thing to note, that only the drivers side rear seat tilts and slides forward as this would be the footpath side for the American market.
The boot is a bit of a mixed bag for me, When the third row was down, space was amazing, opening up to 1042 litres. It’s a huge space and great for weekend trips away with the family. And if you need more space, you can drop the second row down which opens this up to 2102 litres. There won’t be much you can’t carry in that void. Where things struggle is when you need to use the third row, the boot space shrinks to 292 litres. It’s pretty tight due to the angle of the third-row seats, not even leaving enough room for our buggy. This is a common problem with the majority of 7 seaters, you get the seats you need, but you lose all your storage space. Thankfully we only needed 6 seats, so we could keep one down flat, which left room for the buggy.
The flip side of this coin is that this is a 7 seater with huge room in the second row. Normally the rows are tightened up to get just enough, but not to much room in each row. So if you only need 5 seats, the Acadia is a great option, as you won’t lose out by not using the two rear seats, you just gain a massive boot space.
The power tailgate was a great addition, which also came with a hands-free sensor under the left side of the rear door. It’s placed there so that it’s curbside, avoiding any issues with having to stand out in any traffic zone while activating it. It works well, but I find that I forgot about it most of the time, but I am sure if I trained myself, I would use it more often. I did find the button on the tailgate to be rather low, something everyone found. Nearly everyone reached for the area under the chrome trim and above the licence plate. However, the button was all the way at the bottom of the door, just above the bumper. Everyone thought this was an odd place for it, over time I got used to it.
Before testing the Acadia, I had heard some whisperings about its lack of power. The engine is not a monster, but it still produces 231 kW of power and 367Nm of torque. If compared to other vehicles of this size, the numbers are on the low side. But as the old saying goes, it’s not the size, it what you do with it that counts.
I was surprised with what I had heard, as the engine was overall pretty good. It’s nice and quiet, it gets the vehicle up to speed in an acceptable manner and works really well with the 8-speed gearbox. Overall I had two issues with the engine, the first was that it was not as efficient as I would have hoped. If you put a smaller engine in a large vehicle, you really need to offset it with something like a turbo, or diesel option, which helps to make it more efficient. During my time in the new Acadia, where we covered around 2000km I got around 12.0-litres per 100km, which is not horrific, but not great either. Something around 10-litres per 100km would have been a better average.
The second thing I didn’t enjoy about the engine, which was only experienced going from Wellington to Masterton over the Remutakas. Long uphill stints are not handled as well as they should be, the gear selections was a bit messy, leaving you in a higher gear longer than you wanted. The engine power was not an issue, however, it would have been nice to be able to select the gears manually on the gearstick, which your not able to do. It was not a deal breaker, but it was annoying, more so because the rest of the vehicle was so good.
One feature that might frustrate some owners, is that there is no option available to turn on and off the engines auto stop/start feature. Personally, I found the feature to be so smooth, you barely notice its happening. I think its a good thing you can’t turn it off, as its there to help save fuel, or better yet money. Why would you turn it off?
Handling was great, for such a big vehicle, you expect it to handle like a trawler. Whatever the Holden engineers did, the roll is minimal, and the ride is spot on. This was in fact due to the input from Holden’s Australian engineers, who wanted to make sure it’s not a typical American barge. You had to really push it to get it rolling from side to side, and by that point, I found it was well past standard daily driving conditions. The ride never seemed to change much between modes, however, they all felt right, the right amount of firmness, while still allowing some feel and travel.
The Acadia is a big unit, and I was concerned if it would be a bit of a mission to manoeuvre around the city. I am happy to report that while it’s big, it does not feel big. Views all around are great, and the 360-degree camera system makes tight spaces easy to navigate. The last SUV I had, the Ford Endura, is smaller than the Acadia. Oddly enough I found it harder to navigate in car parks than the Acadia.
The drive modes available were not expected in this price bracket. There are 5 modes; 2WD, 4WD, Sport, Off-Road and Trailer/Tow. 2WD and 4WD drive are as labelled. It’s hard to notice the difference, there’s a similar feel and noise when using either mode. You can switch between these when moving, without any limitation. Sport mode is a generous name in my opinion, not much seemed to change here, you just got the typical extra long gear, letting the engine rev higher. Louder might have been a better mode, as this is not a sporty vehicle. I didn’t find the need to use this mode much at all, 2WD and 4WD did the job really well. The weather was not great over my time with the Acadia, so I keep away from the off-road, as the review car was only equipped with street tyres. There was also no tow bar so we could not test the last mode either.
When I first started driving the Acadia I saw that there were paddles on the rear of the steering wheel. I thought to myself, why would you add paddle gear selection to this vehicle, such a waste. I thought that right up until I tested it, and found that the paddles were not for gear selection. They were in fact for volume and station selection, the left paddle allowed you to change up or down radio stations or select next track. The right paddle was volume control. This also explained why there was no volume control on the front side of the steering wheel.
Safety is clearly a big focus for the Acadia, active safety that is. If there was a safety feature on the market, the Acadia seemed to have it, which was great, as many of these features can really drive up the price of big luxury vehicles. Value for money again seen at every turn. Where to start? The haptic seat is the best place I think. This is a first for me, and for Holden. Instead of the typical loud beeps or alerts, Acadia has a haptic sensory seat. This means that the side bases of the seat vibrates when there is an alert warning for you. The seats had multiple sensors, which indicate which side of the vehicles the alerts hightled for, left or right side. At first, it’s weird, but I got used to it quickly and then wondered how we have not moved over to this sort of thing sooner.
As there are so many features I will try to cover them all briefly. The driver’s display has traffic sign memory with intelligent speed assist. This shows the driver the last speed sign that has been passed, allows you to check what the limit is in your current area. The speed assist works hand in hand with the cruise control. If you’re travelling at 100km/h and you enter an 80km/h zone, the cruise control will slow you down to match the updated limit.
In addition to the parking assistant, the safety features include rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert, lane change alert and lateral impact avoidance. As part of the HoldenEye front camera and radar, you also have autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist with roadside edge detection, forward collision alert and following distance indicator. The majority of these use the haptic seat to warn the driver but also use a strip of really bright LED lights in the dash that flash to get the driver’s attention.
I was delighted to see the lane keep assist had been upgraded with roadside edge detection too. This means that the system does not work solely on painted lines. Many parts of New Zealand only have a central painted line, some don’t even have any lines, which means many lane keep assist systems will not work at all. But the Acadia will keep working and will detect the edge of the road, making sure that if you do take your eye off the ball, it will keep you on the straight and narrow.
I found that many of these safety features would trigger alerts earlier than expected, for example, the forward collision alert. Sometimes it was triggered by a parked car, due to a curve in the road in the front of the vehicle. However I never once found myself in a position where the vehicle tried to take over after the alert. There was a good balance of early alerts, and continuous calculations so that it could then decide if the alert is all that was required, or should it step in. There have been many cars, where the safety features jump in too soon, trying to be smart, where they are just being annoying.
The reduced power, when compared to other vehicles of this size, does mean a reduction in overall towing weight capacity. Where some might be running diesel or engines with turbos, they can tow 3,000kg or even 3,500kg. This comes down to what you are looking to use it for, as 2,000kg towing will tackle a lot of jobs. On the subject of towing the Acadia also comes with a hitch guidance camera feature that creates a centre line overall on the camera which lines up with the tow ball on the vehicle. I can see where this sort of thing would be really handy.
The value is clearly visible when you stack them up, anything cheaper than the Acadia is nowhere as big and anything as big is much more expensive.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||Fuel, L/100km||Seats||Boot Capacity|
|Towing Capacity, Kg||Price Highest to Lowest|
|Nissan Patrol Ti||5.6L V8 petrol||298kW/ 560Nm||14.4||7||1490||3500||$107,500|
|Land Rover Discovery Pioneer Edition||3.0L V6 turbo diesel||190kW/ 600Nm||7.5||7||1137||3500||$99,990|
|Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Limited||2.8L V6 turbo diesel||130kW/ 450Nm||5.9||7||540||3000||$91,990|
|Ford Everest 2019MY||2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel 4-cylinder||157kW/ 500Nm||8.7||7||1050||3100||$91,990|
|Holden Acadia LTZ-V||3.6L V6 Petrol||231 / 367||9.3||7||1042||2000||$71,990|
|Kia Sorento Premium Petrol||3.5-litre V6 petrol||203 / 336||10.0||7||605||2000||$67,990|
|Hyundai Santa Fe GDi Elite||2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo||138 / 241||9.3||7||810||2000||$67,895|
|Mazda CX-9 Takami||2.5-litre 4-cylinder twin turbo||170 / 420||8.8||7||810||2000||$67,895|
|Skoda Kodiaq Sportline||2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel||140 / 400||5.7||7||630||2000||$62,990|
The pros and cons
What we think
I was really looking forward to reviewing the Holden Acadia and could only hope it was as good as they advertise. The good news I am happy to report is that it is that good – no, it’s great. I would happily buy this SUV, as it ticks so many boxes for the modern family. It’s a very spacious, comfy 7 seater, that drives well, well built while looking and feeling like it’s worth $100k.
The new Acadia has so much going for it, the value for money is mind-boggling. I think there is room for a diesel option, making it more efficient and opening it up to a wider customer market.
My wife can be a harsh critic (and sometimes gives feedback on cars too) but she is not a fan of vehicles this big at all. Even she said that she can’t fault this one, and really enjoyed our time with it.
A couple of little things bugged me, but nothing frustrated me about the Acadia, It did what it set out to do and it did it really well. I can honestly say I enjoyed driving it and looked forward to driving each day. The whole family loved it, and found it so versatile to live with. I think Holden has hit a home run with this one and I am sure it won’t be long until we see a lot more of them on the roads.
The Holden Acadia has indeed arrived, which means there is a new 7 seater king in town.
Rating – Chevron rating (5 out of 5)
2019 Holden Acadia LTZ-V
|Vehicle Type||Large 7 seat SUV|
|Starting Price||$71,990 plus on-road costs|
|Tested Price||$71,990 plus on-road costs (factory options only)|
|Engine||3.6-litre petrol direct injection V6 engine with Active Fuel Management|
|Power Kw / Torque Nm||231/367|
|Transmission||9-Speed automatic transmission|
|0 – 100 kph, seconds||7.5|
|Spare Wheel||18″ x 4.5″ steel wheel (spare)|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||2,032|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4979x2139x1767|
|Boot Capacity, litres||292/1042/2102|
|Fuel Tank, litres||82|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 9.3L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 12.0L / 100km
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Towing||2,000 kg braked|
|Turning circle, metres||12|
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 years / 100,000 km mechanical warranty|
3 years free certified servicing
|ANCAP Rating||5 Star|