Full 2008 GMC Acadia Review
What's New for 2008
For the 2008 GMC Acadia, eight-passenger seating and satellite radio become standard on the base SLE-1 model, while a rearview camera and a second-row console become available on upper trim levels.
In the past few years, sales of traditional SUVs and minivans have been dropping as consumers gravitate toward crossover SUVs. And it makes sense. Why buy a 6,000-pound truck-based SUV that can pull a tank and tackle the Baja 1,000 when all you really need is something to shuttle the kids around and deal with wintertime driving conditions? With the 2008 GMC Acadia crossover SUV, a more reasonable alternative is offered, and it just happens to be the best all-around family vehicle GMC sells.
The Acadia was introduced last year and is closely related to its corporate siblings, the Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave. Like other popular crossovers, the Acadia has a unibody structure for better handling, interior packaging and crashworthiness. It also has a V6 engine and available all-wheel drive. Helping the Acadia stand out, however, is its size. We consider it to be a large crossover, and indeed, it's about the same size as a Yukon. As such, the Acadia can seat up to eight people and its third-row seat can accommodate adults with ease. Folding those seats down also provides a serious amount of cargo space.
Everything factored in, the 2008 GMC Acadia has a lot in its favor. It's even proven to be the best-selling model of the Acadia/Enclave/Outlook group thus far, thanks to its just-right approach to style and design. We give it a strong recommendation, especially for buyers with large families. But if you don't find it to your liking, there are other models to consider, including the recently introduced Mazda CX-9, redesigned Toyota Highlander and well-regarded Honda Pilot.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A full-size crossover SUV, the 2008 GMC Acadia is offered in three trims: base SLE-1 and uplevel SLT-1 and SLT-2. The SLE comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, eight-passenger seating, front and rear air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, OnStar telematics and a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo system with satellite radio.
The SLT-1 package adds heated mirrors with integral turn signals, leather seating with heated/power front seats, second-row captain's chairs, triple-zone automatic climate control and a Bose 10-speaker audio system with steering-wheel audio controls and six-disc CD changer. The line-topping SLT-2 adds remote vehicle starting, rear park assist, a power rear liftgate, power lumbar supports for the front seats, a 115-volt power outlet and a rear cargo shade.
Both SLT models can also be had with eight-passenger seating, and many of the SLT-2's features are available on lesser models, too. Option highlights include a DVD entertainment system, a rearview camera, a second-row console, a two-panel sunroof, 19-inch wheels, a head-up windshield instrument display, a navigation system, Dolby 5.1 surround sound and third-row audio controls.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 GMC Acadia can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 3.6-liter V6 makes 275 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque spread over a broad rpm range. The front-drive 2008 Acadia rates 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway, and the AWD version stands at 16/22. Towing capacity, at 4,500 pounds properly equipped, should be enough for most folks.
Though GMC has built its image around tough trucks, the all-wheel-drive Acadia is geared more for foul-weather driving than boulder-bashing. The AWD system is active and requires no driver intervention. The system automatically varies the torque split from 90 percent front/10 percent rear to 35/65, respectively, as available traction dictates.
Standard safety features are generous and include antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and the OnStar communications system. 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.
Interior Design and Special Features
Thanks to its space-efficient design, the GMC Acadia provides sedanlike comfort for all passengers. A third-row seat is standard, and one may choose between seven- and eight-passenger configurations. The 60/40-split second-row bench allows eight to ride, while second-row captain's chairs reduce capacity to seven. Additionally, access to that third row is eased by wide rear doors and a sliding second-row seat. Although taller folks in the way back may wish for more thigh support, the accommodations back there are much better than most crossovers or traditional SUVs. Cargo capacity is abundant, with nearly 117 cubic feet available with all seats down and a still very respectable 19 cubic feet behind the third-row seat.
While the 2008 GMC Acadia doesn't fall anywhere near the fun-to-drive camp, it's easy and pleasant to drive, especially considering the vehicle's size and 4,700-pound curb weight. Those planning on towing a trailer will want to consider the SLT versions that feature variable-effort power steering to make quick work of maneuvering. On the road, we've found that the optional 19-inch wheels increase the crossover's bling factor, but they also compromise the Acadia's otherwise comfortable ride quality, turning it into a somewhat jarring experience that many target buyers won't enjoy. Our only other complaint regards the programming of the six-speed automatic, as downshifts can be a bit lethargic unless prodded by a sharp throttle boot.