AT LONG LAST, HOLDEN WILL FINALLY HAVE A FULL-SIZED, ROAD-BIASED FAMILY SUV ON DEALERSHIP FORECOURTS IN MID-2018, WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE NEW ACADIA.
Designed and built by GMC in North America, there's little doubt this is an SUV for the "soccer mom" set.
Seven seats, a choice of four-cylinder or V6 petrol engines (potentially), all-wheel-drive and plenty of interior features to keep young minds occupied.
We took the 2018 Acadia for a quick spin at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria ahead of its local launch next year.
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Engine/trans: TBA | 6sp automatic
Holden never quite came up with an answer to the genius of Ford's Territory SUV.
The high-riding, Commodore-based Adventra, budget Captiva and bush-bashing Colorado 7 all brought positive attributes without managing to address the comprehensive appeal of Ford's all-Australian SUV.
Though it closed its factory doors in October 2016, Ford's contender somehow still manages an average of 8.5 sales per day in 2017 – a remarkable number of people foregoing more modern metal. The Territory outsold the Holden Trailblazer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero in May this year, haunting contemporaries from the grave.
Can the 2018 Holden Acadia turn the tide?
Holden engineers hosting a brief preview drive of the Acadia describe its cupholders as "bucket-sized" before pointing to the practicality of USB charging points for all three rows of their new seven-seater. USB points have joined cupholders on the list of must-haves for mobile families – so there are five them spread throughout the car, always within easy reach.
Air conditioning vents cover all three rows with triple-zone climate control, joining heated and sliding second-row seats with twin sunroofs to keep the family happy. Front seat occupants get heated and ventilated chairs as well as control of the car's touchscreen infotainment system, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity along with a wireless phone charging pad.
Longer and taller than Toyota's rival Kluger, the Acadia offers ample space throughout the cabin and a usefully large boot.
Its tech picture is completed by a safety pack including autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, rear cross traffic alert and other systems designed to keep you safe, while a self-parking system and reversing camera should keep the bumpers in good nick.
ON THE ROAD
Holden isn't offering up much technical information so far ahead of the Acadia's launch.
But what we know from the GMC version in the US is that the current Acadia runs either a 2.5-litre four-cylinder or 3.6-litre V6 pertol engines. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and are offered with front- or all-wheel drive in their domestic markets.
However, this model went on sale in the US in early 2016, so by the time it reaches Australia it may have had a mid-life mechanical upgrade, so we'll just have to wait and see what Holden has in store for the Acadia in technical terms.
We had a brief drive of the Acadia at Holden's proving ground, starting with a run around its high-speed bowl.
The machine feels planted at speed, maintaining its line at velocities that would not impress the constabulary, helped by a powerful (but no doubt thirsty) naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine that drives all four wheels in our test car.
The Acadia offers excellent purchase in tricky conditions on a variety of steep hills used to test prototype machines, clawing along nicely on Continental rubber more suited to malls than mud.
Comfortable, effortless and relaxed , the Acadia arguably picks up where the Australian-built Commodore left off as the right car for contemporary Australian families – probably more so than the Commodore's looming Opel Insignia-based replacement.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Australian Holden spokesman Sean Poppitt says the 2018 Holden Acadia will "add some real American swagger to the Holden showroom", hinting that it might be able to snatch sales from the likes of Jeep's Grand Cherokee.
But buyers have certainly been attracted to the value equation offered by the Acadia's predecessor (and current offering), the Captvia, which was one of only five large SUVs to crack 1000 sales in Australia last month.
Holden will no doubt be keen to retain these customers with the Acadia while reaching out to new buyers who may have never considered the Captiva.
Regardless, the Acadia certainly does represent new territory for the brand.