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2014 GMC Acadia Performance

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On Performance

You can have a GMC pickup truck in a veritable Baskin-Robbins variety of flavors, but the Acadia crossover? You get what they give, which is a pretty good combination of a big V-6 and an automatic transmission, with or without all-wheel drive.

The standard 3.6-liter V-6 is strong enough for its displacement, at 288 horsepower, but it's up against a substantial curb weight even before you add all-wheel drive to the mix. Most carpool captains won't notice, but those 5,000 pounds are an ever-present part of the driving experience.

The GMC Acadia feels heavy, because it is, but acceleration and handling are fine.

GM's six-speed automatic transmission does a good job of coping, now that it's been retuned for smoother shifts and dithers less in selecting a gear. You won't be squirting between tractor-trailers, but the Acadia accelerates strongly when it's passing and merging.

If you need it, the Acadia's all-wheel-drive system 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. It's also a good all-weather companion, and a good idea when towing anything near the Acadia's 5200-pound tow rating.

With a smoother ride and better handling than those true GMC trucks, the Acadia does manage to feel a little smaller than it is--as well as surprisingly responsive and confident. That's mostly due to its four-wheel independent suspension layout and light, well-weighted power steering. Ride quality is well balanced, too, with new dual-flow damper shocks last year further helping the ride-versus-handling tradeoff.

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