Aggressive drive-away pricing and seven years of free scheduled servicing are just a couple of the carrots Holden is dangling to prospective buyers of its flagship seven-seat SUV. Decent carrots, too, in these financially chastened times.
The Holden Acadia plays in a large-SUV minefield that, while not quite as cut-throat as the medium-SUV segment, still offers buyers myriad choices when it comes to seven-seat family haulers.
Squaring up to the rampant segment leaders – Toyota Kluger, Toyota Prado and Mazda CX-9, which between them enjoy 35 per cent market share – is no easy task. Those carrots had better be pretty enticing, then.
We’ve previously spent time in the top-spec Acadia LTZ-V all-wheel drive and came away impressed with its level of standard equipment, as well as how it performed on the road. This time around, we’re stepping down a rung on the Acadia range ladder with the 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ 2WD.
You can safely ignore the official $53,490 plus on-road costs list price because since launching late last year, Holden has been offering some sharp drive-away deals on a pretty much permanent basis. How juicy is that first carrot? Try $53,990 drive-away which, depending on your state, represents around $3000 off the full retail price.
Those drive-away deals apply to the three trim grades in the Acadia range. The entry-level LT asks for $43,990 drive-away, while the top-spec LTZ-V is $63,990 drive-away. Those prices are for front-wheel-drive models. All three can be had with AWD for an extra $4K.
Equipment highlights for the LTZ include leather seat trim with power-adjustable heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, remote engine start, tri-zone climate control, push-button start, second-row seats that slide fore and aft, a leather steering wheel and gear lever, front fog lights, hands-free powered tailgate, privacy glass, heated door mirrors, halogen headlights, and LED tail-lights.
Infotainment is anchored by an 8.0-inch touchscreen and features satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ radio, and a six-speaker sound system. And there are five USB charging points throughout the cabin (two each in the front and second rows and, commendably, a single plug in the third row).
The Acadia runs Holden’s latest-gen myHolden Connect software, and it’s a decent enough interface. Response times to inputs are fast, as is pairing via Bluetooth. Voice-activated commands can prove a bit glitchy, but that’s not a problem unique to the Acadia.
This spec misses out on the 8.0-inch TFT instrument cluster reserved for the LTZ-V, but the instrumentation and information displayed on the instrument panel are still pretty decent. Toggling through screens is easy, too, via a steering-wheel-located dial.
There’s plenty of safety tech, too, with low-speed autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection (high-speed AEB is reserved for the top-spec LTZ-V), lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, and seven airbags providing coverage to all three rows. ANCAP? Five stars awarded in 2018.
There’s no hiding from the Acadia’s presence on the road – its big, brash and boxy dimensions unashamedly American. That imposing chrome-surrounded grille when married to chunky squared-off wheel arches only serves to amplify the Acadia’s road presence.
The bold theme continues inside, the cabin again borrowing from the American SUV playbook with a chunky aesthetic that looks and feels solid. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces adding to the overall air of comfort, while every passenger is catered for in terms of comfort and convenience.
Space for passengers is voluminous, even in the third row which is generous enough for adults to use in comfort. There are separate air vents in the third row, a pair of cupholders, and even a USB charging point.
The second row is even more spacious, with ample toe, knee and head room. Those second-row seats slide fore and aft, too. Visibility is excellent thanks to the Acadia’s large glasshouse, while two USB points and separate climate controls ensure everyone is comfy.
Access to the third row is acceptable from kerbside, but even better from roadside where the right-hand pew in the second row slides forward and tilts upwards to offer a generous aperture to the third row. It’s a shame this feature hasn’t transitioned across for right-hand-drive markets, however.
Even with all three rows in use, there’s 292L of boot space expanding to 1042L with seats six and seven tucked away. Fold away the second row as well and there’s a massive 2102L of available storage. Towing is rated at 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked, with a maximum downball weight of 200kg.
At the beating heart of the Acadia sits General Motors’s 3.6-litre petrol V6 with 231kW of power (at 6600rpm) and a healthy 367Nm of torque (at 5000rpm). Those outputs are channelled to the front wheels via a nine-speed conventional automatic transmission – a harmonious marriage at once refined and powerful.
There’s certainly no lack of grunt from the big seven-seater which gets off the line effortlessly, the thrum from under that hulking bonnet again emphasising the Acadia’s generosity.
Around town, in traffic, the LTZ remains quiet and comfortable. There's no hint of torque steer under acceleration, even when making a quick getaway, the Acadia remaining smooth and stable with linear power delivery.
And the idle stop/start is one of the better systems of this kind we’ve experienced, while the Acadia’s ‘active fuel management’, aka cylinder deactivation, allows the engine to run in four-cylinder mode when under low loads or at cruising speeds on the highway. Holden claims a miserly 8.9L/100km on the combined cycle which, after a week spent around town with the odd highway run, we couldn’t match, instead seeing an indicated 11.9L.
It’s an easy lope on the highway, too, the Acadia sitting comfortably and quietly on 110km/h at a tickle over 1600rpm. Ask more of it, though, for an overtake for instance, and the big SUV surges forward predictably and effortlessly.
The nine-speed auto is never intrusive either, with smooth changes barely felt in the cabin. Neither is road noise overly intrusive, GM having done a stellar job with sound-deadening.
That effort extends to the locally tuned steering and suspension; a standout feature of the Acadia that simply crushes minor imperfections and ripples, such as road joins, with barely a murmur. Larger obstacles, such as speed humps, are similarly dealt with easily, the Acadia recovering quickly without wallowing. And that’s despite not having the active dampers of the top-spec LTZ-V under wheel, the LTZ and entry-level LT both running on passive dampers.
The steering, too, has received a local Holden tickle; a nicely weighted set-up offering decent resistance without being too heavy. Parking the near-five-metre-long Acadia is surprisingly easy, even in the tight confines of my local neighbourhood. A turning circle of 11.8m kerb-to-kerb is on par for the segment.
Holden covers the Acadia with its standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while servicing intervals are every 12 months or 12,000km, whichever comes first. And Holden’s carrot of free scheduled servicing for the first seven years or 84,000km is yet another enticement to buyers, and represents around $2000 value over that period.
Not that the Acadia needs enticements. It is, at its core, a well resolved, powerful, and spacious SUV that fulfils the brief of a seven-seater with aplomb. With sublime road manners, married to a powerful engine and transmission combination, and a genuine third row of seating that’s more than a cramped compromise, the Acadia should be near the top of any prospective buyer's consideration list. It impressed recently in top-spec form, and it continues to impress a rung or two down the Acadia ladder.