General Motors' Australian arm is pinning a lot of hope on the fully-imported, US-built, seven-seat 2018 Holden Acadia. Paul Maric drives a pre-production model to see how it stacks up.
Seven-seat SUVs are a dime a dozen, but the one thing that sets them apart is the value for money offering. An SUV entrant hitting the streets from 2018 will be an all-new vehicle for Holden, the Holden Acadia.
Built on a monocoque chassis and designed and built in North America, the Acadia is a large SUV that will sit beneath the rock-hopping Trailblazer in Holden's line-up and be offered exclusively with seven seats and a petrol V6.
CarAdvice had the chance to attend Holden's top secret proving ground at Lang Lang to sample the Acadia around Holden's high speed bowl and through a number of off-road conditions.
Measuring in at 4918mm long, the Acadia is slightly shorter than the Mazda CX-9, but longer than the Toyota Kluger. Width-wise, the Acadia is 1916mm wide, which is slightly narrower than both the CX-9 and Kluger.
General Motors' Tennessee plant was recently retooled to build the Acadia in right-hand drive at a cost of almost $30 million. Australia will be the only market in the world where a right-hand drive version of the Acadia will be sold.
Australia will also be one of the first markets to receive a revised version of the Acadia in 2018. While Holden wouldn't confirm specifics, the revision will include a new generation of MyLink.
As with the all-new Holden Equinox, the Acadia is currently undergoing a range of local ride and handling tuning, with the team paying special attention to the continuously variable dampers.
From the outside, the Acadia cuts a muscular stance with an imposing grille and a defined side profile.
Inside the cabin there's a huge focus on space and storage. The seating position is one of command, while storage cubbies are strewn throughout the cabin.
Hidden being a black panel is GM's all-new MyLink infotainment system. While Holden didn't disclose any details, we'd expect the unit to build on the current offering and deliver things like a surround-view camera and an improved user interface.
Standard on current MyLink systems is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and integrated satellite navigation.
Other technology highlights include passive entry and start with remote start, wireless phone charging, handsfree tailgate (opened with a kick motion) and a customisable colour driver's display.
Families will love the family-friendly features like the sliding second row with 60:40 split folding, five USB ports (two in the front row, two in the second row and one in the third row), tri-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled seats, heated seats in the second row and a two-panel panoramic sunroof.
The second row offers a stack of room with two larger adults comfortably sitting side-by-side. There is plenty of knee- and toe-room (even for taller adults) with the space adjustable thanks to the sliding second row.
An inbuilt armrest within the second row completes a row that moves forward to allow access to the third row.
Both the second and third rows have air vents and while the third row space is strictly for kids, the second row can be shifted forward to fit adults for short trips. Entry and egress is fairly straightforward, even for adults.
Open the power tailgate and a cavernous boot is on offer. Behind the third row there's 362 litres of space, drop the third row and the space increases to 1181 litres. Drop the second row too, and that space increases to a huge 2237 litres.
Like the Equinox, the Acadia will be offered locally with a 2000kg (braked) towing capacity, including trailer sway control.
Safety will be high on Holden's priority, with the entire range expected to come with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, lane keeping assistant, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and haptic seat alerts, along with semi-autonomous parking.
We hit Holden's high-speed bowl to put the Acadia through its paces. With a load of four burly blokes on board, the 3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6 was more than happy doing its thing.
While the Acadia will be available in both front- and all-wheel drive, the all-wheel-drive equipped vehicles have the ability to switch between two- and all-wheel drive on the fly using a drive selector.
The intelligent all-wheel drive system can begin sending torque to the rear wheels almost immediately before it detects slip thanks to a predictive throttle mapping.
The driver can comfortable stab the throttle from a standing start and know that it will pick up and run with it. The 3.6-litre V6 also comes with stop/start to help save fuel.
On the high-speed ring we simulated overtaking and then had a blast closer to the car's limits at over 200km/h.
During both types of driving the electrically-assisted steering rack offered a heap of feedback and didn't get jittery, which can sometimes happen in big SUVs like this at speed.
Arguably, the most impressive thing was the ride and handling. The US tune is much softer and offered far more body roll. Holden has dialled all of that out and improved the ride and handling by taking advantage of the vehicle's inbuilt electronic variable dampers.
Using this technology the ride is smooth at speed, but firm enough to handling direction changes at lower speeds.
Like the Holden Equinox, Holden remains tight-lipped on full details. Given its premium feel, we expect the Acadia to launch at the lower end as a two-wheel drive, but quickly move towards a premium all-wheel drive variant with all the bells and whistles.
While only offering a petrol V6 may seem like a bad idea, Toyota sells plenty of Klugers – a car renowned for its thirst.
We expect this car to do exceptionally well in the Australian market, especially for families after a feature-packed, seven-seat family hauler.