NEWS

Suburban Dad: 2007 GMC Acadia

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It seemed familiar — like I’d been there before. From the outside, it looked like a great big American-made SUV. There were the large tires, the aggressive front end, the long lines down the side, the liftgate in the back.

Once inside the Acadia, though, the memories came rushing back. The captain’s chairs in the second row. The third row that collapses almost flat to the floor. The space between the captain’s chairs to allow access to the third row. Could it be?

(Music from “Psycho” kicks in…)

Yes! I was in a minivan! Even my daughter picked up on it. “This is exactly like our car, Dad,” she noted. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And that’s what really ticks me off. I live in the suburbs, surrounded by all these suburbanites who have turned their collective back on the minivan. “They’re not cool enough,” they sniff. “They’re not manly enough.”

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I have to take a stand and disagree. It’s OK to drive a minivan; hell, it’s OK to even like a minivan. But it’s clear where GM is going with the Acadia and its sibling, the Saturn Outlook. They can hear the angst from young moms and dads who grew up riding in Chrysler minivans who today say, “You wouldn’t catch me dead in one of those.” So GM has made it easier for them: The Acadia and Outlook are minivans, but with four swinging doors instead of two sliding ones. And that’s OK too.

The Acadia has plenty of space inside, ergonomic controls, seats that are easy to move around, collapse and fold, along with most of the amenities a suburban driver would want. (Of course, I’ve now become addicted to navigation systems and really regret when I drive something without one.)

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The kids were perfectly happy, and were certainly spread out enough that they didn’t get on each others’ nerves. I liked the look of the Acadia, definitely pitched at male buyers with its strong snout and aggressive stance. “It looks too much like a truck,” my wife objected, but I suspect GM is counting on that very look to help sell both the Acadia and the Outlook.

I wasn’t wild about the gas mileage I was getting (around 13 mpg), but to be honest, I was only able to drive it in rush-hour traffic, so I rarely got to run at top speeds. Plus, it had already been driven for about 100 miles in heavy city traffic by one of the Cars.com editors before I got the keys, and I didn’t reset the trip computer. The window sticker says 18/26 mpg city/highway.

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It had good acceleration (a problem in the Outlook that GM has since adjusted), and it was quiet in the cab, no matter how fast I was going.

Would we buy one? I might, but my wife was pretty adamant that it was too muscular-looking for her.

And you minivan haters? Just wait for the days when your 5-year-old dings every car at every mall you visit with those swing-out doors.

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