- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

Looking for a roomy seven-passenger crossover sport utility vehicle that has a powerful engine yet provides respectable fuel economy? Take a look at the 2007 GMC Acadia.

The test vehicle was the all-wheel-drive version; a FWD is also available and the EPA fuel economy is similar to the AWD, which is 17 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway. This vehicle was loaded with options, resulting in a bottom line of $37,269.

I’m told one version of the Acadia can seat up to eight persons, but I had no need for that capacity and was glad to sit behind the wheel of a carlike vehicle. Even getting into the driver’s seat was easy as the Acadia has a low step-in height — no need for running boards — even though it’s a big vehicle. It has a six-way power driver’s seat plus a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Somehow, GMC engineers managed to lower the Acadia, resulting in a lower center of gravity, which provides better handling.

That wasn’t the only carlike experience. The test Acadia had a six-speed automatic transmission and the 3.6-liter V-6 engine produced 275 horsepower very quickly. Because the ride was very smooth and the engine very responsive, there were times I felt like I was in a sedan, not a big vehicle.

That wasn’t the only the sedanlike atmosphere. The surroundings in the front-seat area are open and provide a good view of the road. The instrumentation gauges are not glossy and are easy to understand and read. The first- and second-row seats come with leather appointment and the front seats are heated.

The second-row Smart Slide provides easy access to the captain chairs in the third row. Because I had no need for that seating capacity, I folded the rear seats to provide excellent storage; however, even with the rear seats upright, there is good storage.

Access to the storage area requires only a touch of a button on the key fob to raise the rear door.

The Acadia also has heated outside mirrors, an intermittent rear wiper, ultrasonic parking assist and a remote starting system. I appreciated that system, as I was able to preheat the vehicle on cold mornings before leaving my home.

Another enjoyment was the Bose 5.1 Surround Sound Audio system that included the option of XM Satellite radio. Other options included a 155-volt power outlet and heated windshield wiper fluid, plus a heads-up display, a safety device so I didn’t have to look down to the speedometer.

On the subject of safety, the Acadia is loaded with passenger protection. I’m told this vehicle is designed to protect passengers from crashes with its 360-degree safety system. Because of its strong structure, wide stance and low center of gravity, it reduces the possibility of a rollover.

It has stiff steel crossbeams welded across the floor between the B-pillars.

Of course, it’s equipped with standard air bags: two dual-stage frontal air bags and seat-mounted side-impact air bags in the first row, plus two head-curtain side-impact bags to cover all three rows. And should an accident occur, the Acadia has OnStar with automatic crash notification system.

But enough of the gloomy accident talk. I wouldn’t even want to get a scratch on this beauty, standing on 18-inch machined-aluminum wheels mounted on tires that include tire-pressure monitoring, which is now a mandatory system.

Although it has large seating capacity, the Acadia with its eye-catching appearance is easy to maneuver over any wiggly road and responds quickly to every sharp turn of the steering wheel — and is easy to park.

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