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Driving

What is it like to drive?

As it’s meant to be a reasonably affordable daily driver, the Acadia meets its assumed goal of being fairly average and adequate to drive from start to finish, regardless of trim level. With its single engine option, you accept that you’re not getting anywhere in a particular hurry, and it’s sufficient for most of the scenarios the Acadia will find itself in, but prodding it for any reason reveals how limited it is.

Step on the gas for a quick onramp entry or try to overtake and you’re met with that well-known rattle of a four-banger that shouts like a pup desperately trying to roar. It’s more “bless him, he’s trying” than effective.

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Which is all well and good, for the most part as the word “sport” was never part of the discussion, though it has a sport mode that changes the engine mapping and, we’re told, the steering stiffness, but we never felt a palpable change to the latter.

Indeed, we kept it in sport for most of our drive since the other modes were so lackadaisical when it came to throttle response, even during our unhurried, lazy jaunts from point A to B. As for cornering, no, it doesn’t do that, don’t even ask.

How is it on the highway?

The Acadia feels most at home on long straight stretches of tarmac making highways the place to be. Here, with either the Denali or AT4 suspension setups, the Acadia feels totally okay, and allows for comfortable cruising. All trims of the Acadia have Super Cruise as an available option, and when it works, it’s impressive.

Super Cruise is easy to engage and as it is in other GM vehicles, it’s very clear about when it’s in control or not. The combo of a light-up strip on the steering wheel along with audible and graphical info keeps the driver informed about when they need to intervene. Again, when it works, anyone behind the wheel can take their hands off the wheel and supervise while the Acadia trundles forward, adjusting itself in the lane smoothly, slowing or stopping with the traffic ahead, and making safe, automatic lane changes if it can pass comfortably on the left before automatically returning to the right lane.

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You’ve said “when it works” twice now.

Indeed, even in the approved Blue Cruise zones of highways and two-lane country roads, it sometimes gives up the ghost when conditions aren’t completely perfect. A number of conditions will immediately pop control back over to the driver, with a little note usually saying why but sometimes it’s still not super clear what happened. In any case, it’s an optional feature that elevates the Acadia experience but it shouldn’t be the crux of the drive. Take it away and the SUV is satisfactory in its task.

How about off-road?

With the hardware tweaks and 18in all-terrain tires, the Acadia AT4 is better equipped for the dirt than the other trims, and also the most off-road ready the Acadia has ever been. The hardware is supported by an off-road and a terrain mode, the latter of which will limit the speed of the SUV and make its power delivery software tuned for slippery surface crawling.

Both modes are handy and the all-wheel drive Acadia is as composed as it can be when allowed to sprint down a wide, dusty road, lateral shifts notwithstanding. Encounter a few ruts to overcome and the AT4 can sort them out, though it’s far from perfect. Even in our carefully staged demo with obstacles well within the Acadia’s capabilities, the utility vehicle’s scramble wasn’t without effort, making it clear we wouldn’t opt for one on a proper overlanding adventure if given the option. Picnics? Soccer practice? Sure.

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