The Package

Unlike the GMC Yukon and other truck-based SUVs, the Acadia is based on an all-new carlike platform. Because it doesn't use a truck's heavy-duty underpinnings, there's more room in the cabin for seating, particularly in the fold-flat third row and the second-row bench or captain's chairs. Indeed, with my test vehicle's captain's chairs, the Acadia had a touch of minivan to it. GM isn't planning on producing any new minivans, so the Acadia and its siblings — including the Saturn Outlook — are as close to one as you're going to get from the automaker. GM also knows that minivans — while functional — have an image problem, so a vehicle that gets similar gas mileage (an estimated 18/26 mpg, city/highway) while offering optional all-wheel drive (with slightly worse mileage figures of 17/24 mpg) could garner a big fanbase.

The Acadia has high-quality cabin materials for a vehicle priced just over $35,000, as tested. That includes large, comfortable leather seats for the driver and passenger. The seats are heated and can warm both the seat bottom and back or just the back. For some reason, GM is one of the few companies that offers this setup, which is a dream come true for those of us with stiff backs.

My wife, who isn't a fan of minivans or large SUVs, really liked the comfort and roominess of the Acadia. There are plenty of storage areas — including a large center bin that can swallow just about anything — clear gauges and easy-to-use buttons. However, some environmental buttons, like front and rear defrost, are a tad too small to use blindly.

The best features, though, and the ones that will sell the Acadia to families with kids, are the easy-to-configure second- and third-row seats. One of our editors, who has three kids, raved about the space the Acadia had for them, as well as how easy it was to access the third row and fold it flat into the floor. The second-row captain's chairs also fold flat and slide to create a larger cargo area for hauling long items. With the third row folded flat, four people could enjoy a long trip with plenty of room for luggage, golf clubs, camping gear, etc.

With all the interior has going for it, it's easy to forget how good-looking the Acadia is from the outside. The large grille and its giant GMC logo add a nice manly touch, while the stylized rear end hints that someone with fashion sense resides inside GM's design studio. Thinking this was a "man's" vehicle, I was surprised to hear my fashion-conscious wife call it "cute." How can it be both manly and cute? I'm not sure, but I think calling it "handsome" sums things up.

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