The 2012 GMC Acadia is available with a sole powertrain, configured with front-wheel drive or, optionally, all-wheel drive. In either version, straight-line performance is a little short of brisk, but the Acadia's ride and steering feel overcome its undeniable heft a bit better.
The heart of the Acadia is a 3.6-liter V-6 with direct injection and 288 horsepower. Teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain accelerates strongly enough for midrange passing and highway merging, but must first overcome its substantial 5000-pound curb weight. The transmission is slow to respond, especially at urban speeds, but shifts are generally smooth and clean.
With the optional all-wheel-drive system, the Acadia can send up to 65 percent of its power to the rear wheels. That can be useful in uphill takeoffs, when a bit of torque steer comes into play. The AWD system's also a good idea when towing anything near the Acadia's 5200-pound tow rating--and of course, in the northern tier of states where foul weather usually comes down in solid form.
While it's a heavy vehicle, the Acadia does a good job of feeling a little smaller than it is. Mostly that's due to its independent suspension, to its light power steering feel and the well-balanced ride quality, which mutes out most every bump without blocking out the feel of the pavement. It's more agile than it looks, and the handling's more than predictable, it's confident.