2008 GMC Acadia Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 30, 2008

The 2008 GMC Acadia stands out as being a stylish and capable full-size crossover that should be considered by those shopping for traditional SUVs and minivans.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 GMC Acadia to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the GMC Acadia and have included opinions and details where they aid you in choosing the perfect new crossover vehicle.

Technically, the 2008 GMC Acadia is a crossover, meaning it's built on a passenger-car chassis (this one is front-wheel drive but also offers optional all-wheel drive). However, unlike the Ford Edge that can trace its lineage back to the Mazda6 sedan, there is no car in the General Motors family tree that shares anything significant with the Acadia, so is it really a crossover? Heck, it really doesn't matter what you call it. All that matters is how it drives and looks. First, you'll notice it rides closer to the ground than a truck-based SUV. And its interior isn't crimped up by a huge driveshaft tunnel rising up like a mountain range between the seats, eating up the available real estate. You'll also notice there's no truck-style solid rear axle, no two-speed transfer case, or four-wheel-drive Low range, and as a result, not much in the way of off-road ability. But that's OK because the Acadia's not meant to tackle rutted backwoods roads. Instead of unused off-road capability, the Acadia offers everyday drivability to buyers.

What makes the 2008 GMC Acadia particularly swell is the plus-size accommodations. It's huge inside, with a standard third row and room for seven to eight people (depending on the configuration). The third row's a real third row, too, not there only for advertising purposes. There's almost 20 cubic feet of additional storage space behind the third row, plus maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds.

The 2008 GMC Acadia comes with a single powertrain, a healthy 275-horsepower V-6, and standard six-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is good, but the transmission sometimes hunts for the right gear and jostles the Acadia's occupants in the process. While EPA estimates give hope for 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive models, based on our experience at TheCarConnection.com, those numbers are optimistic.

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Ride and handling are both much improved over even GM's truck-based SUVs, the current handling champs. And 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 more than sufficient for dealing with the handful of snow days most of us face each year. Base 2008 GMC Acadia models come with 18-inch rims, front and rear A/C, stability control, full-row curtain airbags, and GM's OnStar concierge system with "turn-by-turn" navigation assistance. Higher-end models offer or can be ordered with all the niceties, from a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo to three-zone climate control, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), GPS, a two-panel sunroof, and backseat DVD entertainment system. A 19-inch wheel/tire package is available and looks sharp, but be sure you test drive a model so equipped before you buy, as the ride quality suffers a bit.

8

2008 GMC Acadia

Styling

The 2008 GMC Acadia has a good-looking sheetmetal suit and a handsome interior to match.

TheCarConnection.com team did not see a great deal of strong opinions expressed regarding the exterior styling of the 2008 GMC Acadia.

“Mechanically, it's very similar to the Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave,” Edmunds notes (and to the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, TheCarConnection.com adds). On the outside, though, the 2008 GMC Acadia is less rounded and streamlined than many newer SUVs and its GM cousins. It's a more traditional design that Kelley Blue Book considers "handsome," "masculine," and "upscale." With the Acadia, GMC has a “masculine” vehicle, the New York Times says, as well as "tailored." Car and Driver says it has a “handsome interior and exterior,” while Automedia reports that the “Acadia's styling lands somewhere south of SUV and north of station wagon; more masculine than a minivan, but not so macho as to polarize.” Cars.com sums up the rear end, saying it “hints that someone with fashion sense resides inside GM's design studio.”

The Orlando Sentinel is more concerned with the interior of the GMC; 2008’s Acadia is "well-appointed." Cars.com says it has “clear gauges and easy-to-use buttons.” Kelley Blue Book was enchanted with the interior: "An attractive two-tone look is used throughout the Acadia lineup, with an available 'brick interior' adding striking red surfaces for those with adventurous tastes."

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7

2008 GMC Acadia

Performance

The 2008 GMC Acadia has adequate acceleration along with a pleasant ride and handling combination.

The 2008 GMC Acadia is no performance wonder, but the majority of reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate the 3.6-liter, 275-hp V-6 appears to be up to most transportation jobs.

ConsumerGuide and the New York Times both comment that in the Acadia, GMC’s engine provides 251 pound-feet of torque, and with its six-speed automatic transmission, it can tow up to 4,500 pounds when "properly equipped." The New York Times acknowledges that this is "a bit slower than some competitors," but also reports reasonably high mileage figures for this GMC; 2008’s Acadia gets 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive, or 17/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. The New York Times says this is equal to or better than smaller competitors like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.

Despite some complaints about the less-than-sporty performance, The Auto Channel says that in the Acadia, GMC’s power output is "more than enough for the type of driving you'll do 99 percent of the time." ConsumerGuide tells us that "all models offer better than expected acceleration both around town and on the highway, but front-drive Acadias are slightly quicker from a stop." The six-speed automatic transmission "shifts smoothly but is often caught in too high a gear" and suggests a "prod of the throttle" to facilitate downshifts--though it notes those downshift are sometimes slow to occur.

While praising the 2008 GMC Acadia's "smooth ride" and "above-average tow capacity," Edmunds also mentions that the "transmission can be slow to downshift" and suggests that it "is geared more for foul-weather driving than boulder-bashing." Edmunds says that "downshifts can be a bit lethargic unless prodded by a sharp throttle boot."

The Orlando Sentinel likes the feel of this GMC; 2008’s Acadia "rides very nicely even on rough pavement. Handling is on par with other vehicles on the same shopping list." Edmunds says, "it's easy and pleasant to drive, especially considering the vehicle's size and 4,700-pound curb weight." The Auto Channel says, "For a company whose reputation is in trucks, the Acadia's ride was surprisingly car-like and smooth." USAToday reports, “In addition to the taut suspension—too stiff, some might say—the extraordinarily well-balanced steering gets much of the credit.”

Edmunds recommends against the optional 19-inch wheels on the Acadia; GMC offers them, but they may "compromise the Acadia's otherwise comfortable ride quality, turning it into a somewhat jarring experience that many target buyers won't enjoy." However, Kelley Blue Book suggests that the "19-inch wheel and tire package...sharpens handling without sacrificing a comfortable ride."

TheCarConnection.com adds that the GMC 2008 Acadia's optional AWD system (which can transmit as much as 65 percent of engine power to the rear wheels as necessary) is more than sufficient for dealing with the handful of snow days most of us face each year.

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8

2008 GMC Acadia

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 GMC Acadia has a flexible and roomy interior, but some finishes aren’t the greatest.

The 2008 GMC Acadia pleases reviewers with good interior room and clever seating options, but some materials and interior trim are less rich than the Acadia’s price would suggest.

The 2008 GMC Acadia, USAToday says, has only “almost immeasurable 1% less passenger room than you get inside [Chevrolet] Tahoe and [GMC] Yukon”—both of which are traditional full-size, truck-based SUVs. Inside the Acadia, GMC has “easy-to-configure second- and third-row seats,” according to Cars.com. The third row can be folded into the floor, they note, while “the second-row captain's chairs also fold flat and slide to create a larger cargo area for hauling long items.”

Edmunds bestows its stamp of approval on the 2008 GMC Acadia’s interior layout and roominess: "Thanks to its space-efficient design, the GMC Acadia provides sedanlike comfort for all passengers," they write. Kelley Blue Book agrees that the interior is "roomy, versatile and utilizes high-quality material."

However, the New York Times, which is highly complimentary of the GMC 2008 Acadia's "tailored" outward appearance, was more critical of the inside. This source mentions 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."

In terms of quietness, ConsumerGuide says: "[There is] little road rumble, though the 19-inch tires thump slightly over bumps. Wind noise is low, with only a muted whistle from the outside mirrors at highway speeds. Acadia's quiet, refined engine growls pleasantly under brisk acceleration."

TheCarConnection.com believes that what makes the 2008 GMC Acadia particularly swell is the plus-size accommodations. It's huge inside, with a standard third row and room for seven to eight people (depending on the configuration). The third row's a real third row, too, not there only for advertising purposes. There's almost 20 cubic feet of additional storage space behind the third row, plus maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds.

Review continues below
9

2008 GMC Acadia

Safety

The 2008 GMC Acadia performs well in crash tests and in real-world safety, though visibility is a small concern.

The 2008 GMC Acadia is a top safety performer, in crash tests and in standard equipment.

According to Edmunds, the 2008 GMC Acadia’s "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash test scores are impressive, with the Acadia scoring five stars (out of five) in all frontal- and side-impact tests."

Edmunds reports that standard safety gear is "generous" on the GMC 2008 Acadia; they note a full complement of standard safety equipment that includes "antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and the OnStar communications system." ConsumerGuide also mentions tire pressure monitors.

The New York Times says that "front visibility is excellent, though the tall rear glass makes it especially hard to find the vehicle's rear end while backing up." Unfortunately, TheCarConnection.com did not note that a backup camera was available either as standard equipment or an option. Cars.com does report that in the Acadia, GMC's "low and away" instrument panel helps optimize windshield visibility.

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8

2008 GMC Acadia

Features

Features offered on the GMC 2008 Acadia are definitely above average for the price.

TheCarConnection.com found few features missing on the 2008 GMC Acadia.

All GMC 2008 Acadia crossovers come with 18-inch rims, front and rear A/C, and GM's OnStar concierge system with "turn-by-turn" navigation assistance. Higher-end models offer or can be ordered with all the niceties, from a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo to three-zone climate control, a power rear liftgate, a head-up display (HUD), a GPS navigation system, a two-panel sunroof, and backseat DVD entertainment system.
Kelley Blue Book adds that with the Acadia, GMC installs an "AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and MP3 capability and XM Satellite Radio” as standard equipment, while available options include "leather seats, ultrasonic parking assist, a DVD-based navigation system and a Bose 5.1 surround sound audio system," according to Cars.com.

In the Acadia, GMC has designed audio controls that are “easy to reach," ConsumerGuide reports, while "the optional navigation system absorbs most audio functions but doesn't complicate their use." This source was more critical of the climate controls in the Acadia; GMC’s design puts them "within easy reach,” but “their pushbuttons are less convenient than rotary knobs."

Mother Proof raves, "the Acadia really has just about every feature you could possibly want, plus some you've never imagined." According to this source, "the interior designers of the GMC 2008 Acadia placed a notch at the bottom of the plastic that will accommodate all but the chunkiest of [shoe] heels."

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December 8, 2015
For 2008 GMC Acadia

drives great when it's working

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Numerous defects, GM is aware. Before you buy don't not go by these reviews or kbb, Edmunds...I did BIG mistake. Over 100 service bulletins for 2008 alone. Trying to get GM to pay is a joke soooo trust me, do... + More »
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Styling 8
Performance 7
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