Aug 13, 2012 Product Review
I’m going on another road trip this week, taking my kids to Western New York to see family. The last time we did this trip, last month, we did it in a loaner from the GM Northeast Team. I don’t like to test drive vehicles in NYC unless they’re the type I would actually consider buying while living in Brooklyn, and I’ll say up-front that I would never buy the Acadia or a similarly-sized vehicle while living in the city. But that didn’t stop me from loving it.
My view of anything larger than a station wagon changed when I discovered crossovers: built on a car platform, they generally have less ground clearance than SUVs, and don’t make me feel like I’m driving a tank. The Acadia I was given for a week to test out was configured as a seven-seater, with bucket seats in the first and second rows and a bench seat in the back.
I have two kids who do nothing but get on each other’s nerves when in close quarters, and I can not overstate the importance on a road trip of having separate rows for them. They couldn’t touch each other, or get in each other’s space, and that cut out 75% of the problem right there. I’m not a great lover of road trips, but if I could take a few more without listening to the kids fight, I could become a fan.
Aside from the seating, my favorite thing about the Acadia was the entertainment and navigation system. It was genius. I put a DVD in for the kids to watch on the screen that folds down from the roof, and they plugged their own headphones into the back of my center armrest (which also held their heat and ac controls). They were able to adjust their volume, plus fast forward, rewind, and pause their movie (there was a remote, but we couldn’t get it to work, even after changing the batteries; same with the one set of wireless headphones and the regular two-prong plug outlet; great features as long as they’re working).
Once their movie was up and running, I switched on the navigation system, and for the rest of the ride kept my screen split between the satellite radio and the map. However, I didn’t have to take my eyes off of the road to know where my next turn was or what song was playing, because that information was projected onto the windshield! Seriously, it was the best thing ever. It wasn’t distracting in the least, and gave me all the information I needed. Combined with the intuitive controls right on the steering wheel, I was able to navigate and change stations without getting distracted.
I feel conflicted complimenting the way the Acadia handled bluetooth phone pairing, because I’m generally against talking on a phone while driving, whether it’s hands-free or not. (I tend to confine mine to calls from my husband, since he knows I’m driving and I don’t have to use any of my attention to keep up a normal flow of conversation.) But I think I’m fighting a losing battle on that one, so if you’re going to have phones pair with car speaker systems, make sure they do it as well as the Acadia does. I paired my phone once, and that was it. Every time I got into the car it was paired, and when I did get a call I could answer it and end it with steering wheel buttons. The sound was very clear, and my kids were able to continue talking quietly in the back without messing up my call.
The Acadia had other, smaller conveniences that really added to my appreciation of this vehicle. The driver’s side seat can remember two different settings, so that once I set the mirrors and seat position, my husband would have been able to get in and set his own. The side mirrors also folded up with the touch of a button, very important when street parking.
The cargo area fit our suitcases no problem with all three rows of seats in use on the way to Buffalo, but if you need more space, you’ve got it – in many combinations. Putting all of the seats flat took me well under a minute, by myself.
On our trip home I had a lot of stuff to bring, but I still didn’t want the kids to sit in the same row, so we folded down only what we needed to, being careful to place things so that they wouldn’t slide on to the kids if I made an enthusiastic turn. It’s a little hard to see, but Jake is sitting in the 2nd row, and Fiona is sitting in the 3rd. And as the picture clearly shows, you can fit one of those big Rubbermaid containers behind the third row of seats. Naturally, you can open and close the trunk with the push of a button, adding another layer of convenience.
As far as safety goes, it had everything you’d expect, plus a couple of things that should be mandatory on every large vehicle: a back-up camera, and a loud beep whenever anything was directly behind me and I was backing up.
This was a fantastic car to drive, and if I didn’t live in Brooklyn it would definitely be on my shortlist. Watch the video below to see some of the features in action.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.