Are the holidays over? Is it safe to come out again? Whew! December was a crazy month for our little family and as fun as it was, I’m glad it’s over. One of the highlights of the month, aside from a week in California, was a week with our family and friends in Calgary. Yes, we drove from the west coast to Alberta in December – and back again! No, we are not crazy, although people frequently told us we were.

While we usually drive our pickup truck, this year Chevy Canada offered us the opportunity to test drive the 2014 GMC Acadia AWD Denali (which they kindly equipped with winter tires) for the week. I was totally impressed with how it handled everything a Canadian winter and Rocky Mountain roads could throw at it including deep snow, packed ice and slush galore. With almost every conceivable safety gadget available to man including Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control System, Traction control, Front airbags and side air bags, we all felt very secure.


Photo Courtesy GM Canada

While safety is of course a priority, the fact that the Acadia looks good, has super comfortable seats and handles very nimbly for such large vehicle really made me dread giving it back! It was easy for me to maneuver it around busy parking lots and into tight stalls. Another thing I noticed was the blind spot was not massive or distracting (as it can be in many SUVs) which certainly made parking and backing less stressful. Ample cup holders, lots of storage compartments for all the junk we accumulate and a large cargo area in the back (which the grandparents gleefully crammed with Christmas gifts) covered my basics and with front and rear sun roofs, automatic lift tailgate and my favorite option of all, heated/air conditioned seats, this truck is so comfy I didn’t want to get out!

GMC Acadia fold down seats for more Cargo

The kids were comfortable and the grandparents made sure the truck was filled to capacity.

I found myself comparing the Acadia to a Minivan because it has the same versatility for transporting many people. The kids loved having their own rear captain’s seats and the third row of seating easily held two booster seats with ample space for another person in the middle. But unlike a minivan, the Acadia has a more significant trailer towing capacity. The Acadia can handle a 5200 pound trailer while on average minivans can tow around 3500 pounds. We camp in a trailer so that’s definitely a tipping point.

GMC Acadia Rear Captains Seat and 3rd Row

Rear Captain’s chairs make it easy to access the spacious 3rd row seating

3rd row seating in GMC Acadia

3rd row has lots of space for car seats and I fit in the middle without feeling squashed.

The kids were also a fan of the built in DVD player which comes with two wireless headphones that allows those in the back to listen to the movie while passengers in the front seat can listen to the radio or plug in the iPod. Two additional head phone jacks means up to 4 passengers in the back can listen to the DVD. My husband and I thought the Bose sound system was pretty wicked. The kids may have asked us to turn it down a time or two…

One more feature of the GMC Acadia that I thought was pretty slick was the Head-Up Display (HUD). On the windshield in view of the driver, the HUD was unobtrusive while displaying the speed, temperature, and compass. This was particularly appreciated on the highway in the dark because you don’t have to move your eyes from the road to get this information. It was also integrated with the Nav system so our GPS directions were displayed right up front for the driver to see.

GMC Acadia Heads Up Display

Heads Up Display is a great feature; keeping my eyes on the road was easy!

And a few words about the Nav system. I don’t like them in general; I have not yet met one that I like. I personally find them to be a driving distraction, the voice commands can be frustrating to master and the GPS lady and I never see eye to eye. Having said that, this one and I got along well enough which was a very pleasant surprise.

GMC-Acadia Nav System

Photo Courtesy GM Canada

Gushing aside there were a few things that bothered me about the Acadia (hey, no vehicle is perfect!) The engine is a 3.6L SIDI V and the truck weighs 4,892 lbs. I felt that it was a bit under powered off the starts; perhaps it just needs a bit more torque? It was fine once it was going, smooth and responsive, but I felt like I had to floor it to get it going.

As a result of my bad habit of flooring it, I never compare my mileage to what the manufacturers post. My husband can usually come very close, however this time even he was off. According to the specifications, we should be able to use 13.3 L of fuel per 100 KM in city driving and 8.8L /100 km on the highway. We were higher at 14/100 and 12/100. The poor showing on the highway is probably at least partially attributable to the fact we were up and down high mountain roads under winter conditions.

Overall I was very impressed with the GMC Acadia. I liked driving it, I thought it looked good and I was impressed with quality. The Acadia would be a great fit for my family and definitely made it on my shortlist for my next vehicle.