2019 Holden Acadia first drive

It’s considered bad to speak ill of the dead but not in the automotive world. Now that the Holden Captiva is gone you can actually getHolden executives to admit that the quality levels in that SUV were not exactly class leading, and in fact were a little below par.

Holden needed a higher quality replacement, but why turn to an American designed and assembled SUV?

Outside of the US, American cars have long had a reputation for crappy interiors and wobbly handling but it seems that reputation is now more of an anachronism, at least in the case of the Holden (GM) Acadia.

The new Acadia has been on sale in North America since 2016, but product planning and conversion work to right hand drive means that this mid sized SUV has only just arrived here.

In addition to the conversion work there was also plenty of suspension work from Holden engineers to tune the vehicle to Australasian conditions.

The result is a vehicle that is not only better than the Captiva, but on that actually performs and handles in a damn near class leading manner.

But first the details. The range opens with the NZ$49,990 Acadia LT, although that is a front wheel drive (the all wheel drive costs NZ$53,990), moves up through the mid level LTZ at NZ$59,990 and tops out at the spec filled LTZ-V at NZ$71,990. You can trim NZ$4,000 off the price for both the LTZ and LTZ-V if you opt for 2WD (special order only).

The LT starts out with some good safety spec, including autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot assist, rear cross traffic assist, traffic sign recognition, and many more.

One of the more interesting safety features is the lateral impact assistance, which will nudge the steering wheel away from a car in your blind spot if you attempt to change lanes at the wrong time.

The infotainment system includes Apple Carplay and Android Auto, eight inch touch screen, five USB ports and embedded sat nav, which means you don’t need your phone to access the navigation system as you do in some other cars.

Other features include active noise cancelation which makes the cabin rather quiet at speed on the open road, tri zone climate control, and six way manually adjustable front seats.

The LTZ trim includes all of the above but adds rain sensing wipers,leather upholstery, power tailgate, heated front seats, and poweradjustable front seats.

The LTZ-V takes that spec and adds a Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, dual panel sunroof, active cruise control with stop/go,heated and ventilated front seats, and different instrument panel with more information display.

The engine is essentially the same lump as in the high spec Commodore, although it has slightly different power and torque outputs. The Acadia has 231kW and 367Nm, which is four kilowatts and 14 Newton metres less than the Commodore.

The engine has a good amount of punch, and due to the nine-speed gearbox it’s pretty much always on call for some hefty acceleration.

Going on stereotypes you’d expect that the American made Acadia would sway and wobble down the road like a yacht in rolling seas, but that’s not the case. The Acadia is eager to change direction with a well damped but still supple ride quality.

There are of course a few niggles with the Acadia. You can change gear manually, but only by using a button on top of the gearlever, which is hard to operate as you really need a reverse hinged elbow to use it effectively.

The selector for 2WD to 4WD to Sport to Offroad and other settings is  a rotating knob that sits awkwardly beside the drivers seat and just in front of the centre console storage box. It’s a bit of an ergonomic disaster, and could be better placed closer to the gear lever.

But overall the Acada is an impressive SUV in most areas, and it certainly trumps the Captiva in every sense. With an impressive opening price below fifty grand its going to cause a stir in the market.

All pictures: Simon Watts/ Bwmedia

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