I wasn't prepared to be impressed when I received an invitation to be one of the first to drive a production version of the GMC Acadia, but surprised and impressed I was.
Based on GM's European Lambda platform, the Acadia is stiffer and rigid, allowing engineers to develop a far more versatile suspension system. This is why GMC has been able to make the Acadia a better-performing vehicle on winding backcountry roads. During my drive through the mountains of Santa Cruz, Calif., the Acadia tracked true around wide sweeping turns. It was equally surprising on California's wonderful freeways, which are full of expansion joints that can set some vehicles to bucking like a bronco at a rodeo. It smoothed out the jolts and reduced the vibration to a minimum.
The exterior is a cross between a minivan and a sport utility vehicle. However, GMC has given the Acadia a personality of its own. You can see the computer influence in the design. It's as though a minivan and an SUV have been magically morphed into one.
This crossover provides all the versatility, functionality and comfort consumers look for in a vehicle. The Acadia sits low enough to the road, making it easy to get in and out of as well as giving it excellent road-handling ability. Yet it's high enough to provide respectable ground clearance on slightly rough terrain. This isn't an off-roader by any means, but if outfitted with all-wheel drive, you still can venture off a paved road. Just don't go too far.
I think GMC has done a good job with the Acadia. It should fill the needs of many buyers while allowing them to feel better about their choice.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.