2010 GMC Acadia Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 14, 2009

The 2010 GMC Acadia strikes a good balance: more useful than full-size SUVs for passenger duty, yet a lot better-looking than a minivan.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2010 GMC Acadia to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the Acadia, included opinions, and observed details where they aid you in choosing the perfect new crossover vehicle.

The 2010 GMC Acadia continues on from last year's model and remains more carlike than traditional truck-based SUVs, especially in handling, but with a very roomy and passenger friendly interior. The Acadia can be ordered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but since there’s no two-speed transfer case or four-wheel-drive low range, there really isn't much off-road capability in the 2010 Acadia. But that's OK because the Acadia's not meant to tackle rutted backwoods roads. Instead of off-road capability, the Acadia offers everyday drivability to buyers seeking a roomier, more practical vehicle.

Interior space and well-configured seating are what makes the 2010 GMC Acadia especially appealing. A third-row seat is standard, which yields room for seven or eight people altogether (depending on the configuration). The third row's a real third row, too, and behind it, there's even 20 cubic feet of additional storage space. Plus, folding down the second and third rows of seats yields over 115 cubic feet of space.

The 2010 GMC Acadia comes with a single powertrain, a healthy 288-horsepower V-6 that gets direct injection for 2009, and standard six-speed automatic transmission. This mechanical configuration is the same one found in the 2010 Buick Enclave. Acceleration is good, but the transmission sometimes hunts for the right gear and jostles the Acadia's occupants in the process. EPA estimates give hope for 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway for front-wheel-drive models, although that may be a little optimistic.

Review continues below

The GMC Acadia's optional AWD system (which can transmit as much as 65 percent of engine power to the rear wheels as necessary) is plenty for snow days, or muddy back roads on the way to the cabin, but it won't be suitable for full-on off-road adventuring.

The 2010 GMC Acadia comes in three trim levels: SLE-1, SLT-1, and SLT-2. Each comes with the aforementioned 3.6-liter V-6 engine. Standard features for all models include cruise control, full power accessories, front and rear air conditioning, and a full array of airbags. The SLT-1 and SLT-2 trims get a premium 10-speaker Bose system with a six-CD in-dash changer. Features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, power seats, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), GPS, a two-panel sunroof, XM NavTraffic, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, backseat DVD entertainment system, and tri-zone automatic climate control are also available as options in the higher trims.

While these options are carried over from the 2009 model, the 2010 GMC Acadia does have some new features available, including new optional 20-inch chrome wheels. Additionally, there is a new USB port located in the center console that can play audio files through the Acadia's sound system, as well as charge certain devices—specifically, it works with your iPod. Other new options include a Cashmere Interior, as well as GMC Yukon Denali-style roof racks.

8

2010 GMC Acadia

Styling

The 2010 GMC Acadia garners favorable reviews for its styling and is a strong entry from GM both inside and out.

Overall, the 2010 GMC Acadia features one of the most attractive exterior designs in the crossover class, and reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com show that the stylish touches carry over into the cabin.

The GMC Acadia, "along with its corporate cousins, the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and Saturn Outlook ... has a unibody architecture," according to Edmunds, and is "offered in three trims: base SLE-1 and uplevel SLT-1 and SLT-2." From the outside, there is little difference between the trim levels, and all variants of the GMC Acadia come with "18-inch alloy wheels," according to Edmunds, who also state that the Acadia was "hands-down the handsomest vehicle" in a recent test. Reviewers from MyRide.com agree, reporting that "the GMC Acadia may be the best looking of the Lambda triplets," referring to GM's Lambda platform shared by the Enclave, Traverse, and Outlook. They also declare the Acadia "one of the sharpest looking vehicles in its class, period." Kelley Blue Book finds the styling of Acadia pleasing, deeming the GMC Acadia  "handsome," "masculine," and "upscale." Cars.com is impressed enough to conjecture that "someone with fashion sense resides inside GM's design studio."

Reviewers are pleased by the cabin, with MyRide.com admiring the "very tasteful" interior, especially its "dual tone look, with satin-finish and chrome accents." Cars.com likes the Acadia's "clear gauges and easy-to-use buttons," while Kelley Blue Book compliments the "attractive two-tone look [that] is used throughout the Acadia lineup, with an available 'brick interior' adding striking red surfaces for those with adventurous tastes." Even ConsumerGuide is impressed by some of the more practical touches, pointing out "day or night, Acadia's luminous gauges are easy to read," while "the optional head-up display projects vehicle speed and other readings on the windshield."

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2010 GMC Acadia

Performance

The 2010 GMC Acadia won't satisfy any high-performance cravings, but it's responsive enough not to leave you wanting.

The 2010 GMC Acadia carries on the same engine from 2009: a 3.6-liter V-6 making 288 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. In terms of performance, the car is very similar to its predecessor and serves the purpose for which it was designed: being a practical people-hauler.

Edmunds states that the Acadia's powerplant is a "3.6-liter V6 with direct injection that makes 288 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque, spread over a broad rpm range," and has become a welcome addition to the GMC Acadia since being introduced last year. ConsumerGuide is impressed by the engine's power, noting that "the Acadia offers better than expected acceleration both around town and on the highway." MyRide.com testers also love the V-6 under the GMC Acadia's hood, finding that it "is certainly willing, with smooth power delivery and even a good growl as the revs rise," and reporting they "couldn't be happier" that this is GM's "new corporate V-6." This power also provides for a substantial towing capacity that, "at 4,500 pounds when properly equipped, should be enough for most folks," according to Edmunds.

While the engine itself is well liked among critics, the same can't be said about the less-than-stellar transmission. MyRide.com reports that the "transmission is mostly a willing partner," and "its six speeds usually swap quickly, although we did notice some upshift jerkiness at full throttle and the occasional downshift hesitation." ConsumerGuide reviewers add that "the transmission shifts smoothly but is often caught in too high a gear" and "a prod of the throttle sometimes results in slow downshifts for passing power."

In terms of fuel consumption, the large, heavy GMC Acadia isn't as miserly as you would hope for a crossover vehicle, but it won't shock the environmentally conscious either. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2010 GMC Acadia should return 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway in all-wheel-drive versions, while the front-wheel-drive models get 1 mpg better in each, although it has been said before that these figures may be a little optimistic for most drivers.

The 2010 GMC Acadia handles and brakes well, according to a range of reviewers. ConsumerGuide says the vehicle is "impressively stable and agile" but "difficult to maneuver in tight spaces due to its long, wide body." Edmunds mentions that the GMC Acadia is "easy and pleasant to drive, especially considering the vehicle's size and 4,700-pound curb weight," and USA Today credits the "extraordinarily well-balanced steering." MyRide.com positively reports "minimal dive...under braking."

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2010 GMC Acadia

Comfort & Quality

A few gripes about the materials inside the 2010 GMC Acadia are the only complaints worth mentioning in this category.

The interior of the 2010 GMC Acadia is almost unanimously lauded by reviewers, though some find fault with materials quality.

The automotive press has nothing but good things to say about the seating arrangement inside the new GMC Acadia, with Edmunds reporting that, "thanks to its space-efficient design, the GMC Acadia provides large-sedan-like comfort for all passengers." Edmunds also points out that "a third-row seat is standard, and one may choose between seven- and eight-passenger configurations" thanks to the available middle-row captain's chairs. At the front, ConsumerGuide notes "plenty of headroom and legroom," while "the seats are generally supportive and comfortable." The rear two rows garner similar praise, with Cars.com pleased to find "easy-to-configure second- and third-row seats," and Consumer Guide observing that "the 3rd row can accommodate six footers—though they'll ride knees up."

Storage and cargo space is also plentiful in the 2010 GMC Acadia, thanks to what Kelley Blue Book terms a "roomy, versatile" interior. Cars.com reports that "with the second- and third-row seats folded, there is 116.9 cubic feet of cargo space," which "eclipses the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9" and is even "more cargo volume with the seats down than [the] Yukon." ConsumerGuide agrees, rating the 2010 GMC Acadia a perfect 10 in terms of cargo room due to it being "the largest among midsize SUVs," and that "several bins and cubbies provide good interior storage."

However, while we find generally favorable reviews for the comfort and capacity of the GMC Acadia, some reviewers note that the Acadia is plagued by materials quality problems. The New York Times is probably the most offended in this aspect, griping that "the company's secret contract with Cheap Plastic Inc. may not be over yet: the Acadia's interior driver door handle, that critical hands-on interface between man and machine, was unpleasantly sharp and finished in bogus chrome." ConsumerGuide offers a gentler review, saying that "though there are few padded surfaces, bright accents and richly grained plastics give the interior an inviting look." Edmunds is not as critical as the New York Times either, asserting that the Acadia offers "mostly solid materials and build quality, though a few lower-grade plastic pieces can still be found." In terms of the actual construction of the vehicle, ConsumerGuide remarks that "build quality has been good."

Reviewers also compliment the Acadia for its smooth ride. According to The Orlando Sentinel, the GMC Acadia "rides very nicely even on rough pavement." ConsumerGuide agrees, calling the GMC Acadia "comfortably composed and controlled."

One area where the 2010 GMC Acadia excels unexpectedly is in its lack of cabin noise and pleasant interior ambience. In this aspect, ConsumerGuide says there is "little road rumble, though the [optional] 19-inch tires thump slightly over bumps. Wind noise is low, with only a muted whistle from the outside mirrors at highway speeds," while the "Acadia's quiet, refined engine growls pleasantly under brisk acceleration."

9

2010 GMC Acadia

Safety

Get the rearview camera option and you'll correct the only safety concern for the almost-perfect 2010 GMC Acadia.

In safety, the GMC Acadia is real standout, with rave reviews from all sources researched by TheCarConnection.com.

Crash tests are one of the most important measures of a vehicle's safety, and in that regard the 2010 GMC Acadia follows on from last year's model's flawless performance. In NHTSA tests, the GMC Acadia earns a perfect five-star rating in every category, including front and side impacts on both the driver and passenger sides. The IIHS reports similarly high scores for the GMC Acadia, which garners the highest possible rating of "good" in both the frontal offset and side impact tests. Last year, the IIHS also awarded the 2009 GMC Acadia its prestigious Top Safety Pick award, citing the Acadia's "good performance in front, side, and rear tests and standard electronic stability control," features it carries on to the 2010 model.

While crash-testing can certainly be revealing, it's not the only factor that must be examined when determining overall vehicle safety. The GMC Acadia delivers the goods in this aspect, thanks to its wide range of safety features to complement its strong frame. Edmunds reviewers find that the standard safety features on the GMC Acadia include "antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and the OnStar communications system." In addition, ConsumerGuide reports that "traction control" and an "antiskid system" come standard, as well as an "antiskid system w/rollover sensors [and] tire-pressure monitor."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that driver visibility, at least out the windshield, is not a concern in the GMC Acadia. According to the New York Times, "front visibility is excellent, though the tall rear glass makes it especially hard to find the vehicle's rear end while backing up." ConsumerGuide agrees, noting that the "high beltline in back makes the available rear obstacle detection and rearview camera worthwhile options."

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2010 GMC Acadia

Features

Real-time traffic capabilities, heated and cooled seats, and new iPod compatibility make the 2010 GMC Acadia a thoroughly modern crossover, with features to match.

GM keeps the GMC Acadia well equipped by improving its standard and available features a little bit each year, and 2010 is no exception.

The 2010 GMC Acadia already comes with a wide range of standard features, whether in SLE or SLT trim. Edmunds reviewers assert that "the level of standard equipment in the Acadia is comprehensive," and ConsumerGuide reports that the list includes "front and rear air conditioning w/rear controls, OnStar assistance system," and full power accessories. The upscale SLT trim adds "tri-zone automatic climate controls" and a "Bose sound system," along with a "wireless cell phone link," according to ConsumerGuide. Kelley Blue Book says an "AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and MP3 capability and XM Satellite Radio" is also included as standard fare on both models.

In addition to the standard features found on the 2010 GMC Acadia, GMC includes a lengthy list of options to satisfy discerning buyers. Headlining these options, according to Cars.com, are "leather seats, ultrasonic parking assist, a DVD-based navigation system and a Bose 5.1 surround sound audio system." ConsumerGuide observes that the Acadia has a "wireless cell phone link, heated and cooled front seats, and satellite radio with real-time traffic updates." ConsumerGuide adds that "a rearview camera is available on any Acadia, whether or not it's equipped with the optional navigation system," which serves as an excellent supplement to the sonar parking assist. In TheCarConnection.com's research, MotherProof reviewers offer up the best summary of the GMC Acadia's features by, declaring that "the Acadia really has just about every feature you could possibly want, plus some you've never imagined."

On top of this, there are new GMC Yukon Denali-style roof racks available for those who need even more storage than the interior cabin can provide. Finally, the 2010 variant of the GMC Acadia also gets a new USB port in the center console, which will allow users to plug in USB devices and play stored audio files through the Acadia's stereo system. It will also be able to charge certain USB devices, making it handy for portable music players such as the iPod.

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Styling 8.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 9.0
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