Car Reviews

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Toby Hagon’s 2018 Holden Acadia Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In a nutshell: Made-in-America large seven-seat SUV with bold styling and impressive value for what is (arguably) the most relevant Holden family car in years.

2019 Holden Acadia Specifications

Price From $42,990 drive-away Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 12,000km Safety TBA Engine 3.6-litre V6 Power 231kW at 6600rpm Torque 367Nm at 5000rpm Transmission 9-speed automatic Drive Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive Dimensions 4979mm (L), 1916mm (W), 1762-1767mm (H), 2857mm (WB) Ground Clearance 198mm (18-inch tyres), 203mm (20-inch tyres) Kerb Weight 1874-2032kg Towing 2000kg Towball Download 200kg GVM 2675kg (2WD), 2722kg (4WD) Boot Space 292L (with all 7 seats in use), 1042L (5 seats), 2102L (2 seats) Spare Space-saver Fuel Tank 73L (2WD), 82L (4WD) Thirst 8.9L/100km (2WD), 9.3L/100km (4WD)

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Previously Commodores and Kingswoods served up the four-wheeled family duties for Holden. In 2018 it’s up to the all-new Acadia SUV, the first true seven-seater from a brand undergoing a model transformation and adapting to life without a locally made large car.

In its homeland, the Acadia wears a GMC badge, but in Australia it adopts General Motors’ Australian brand, Holden. It comes with big expectations of appealing to families in an era when Holden is struggling with its heartland. Key competitors include the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Pathfinder.

What’s in the range and how much does it cost?

Value is a key component of the Acadia sales pitch, part of the reason the brand announced drive-away pricing at the launch. There are three models – LT, LTZ and LTZ-V – each available as a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The LT kicks things off at $42,990, which despite its base model status comes brimming with fruit. There are 18-inch alloy wheels, smart key entry with push button start, satellite-navigation, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio tuning, tri-zone ventilation, reversing sensors and a reversing camera and speed limit recognition that’s been calibrated for Australia’s often inconsistent school zones. There are also five USB ports to keep all those gadgets charged. Safety is also a strong suit, with auto emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance with mild self-steering. The all-wheel drive system adds $4000 to all models.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Step up to the LTZ and the price jumps to $53,990. Extra gear includes leather seats, electric and heated seat functionality up front, wireless phone charging, front parking sensors, fog lights, powered tailgate and some chrome touches on the door handles.

The top-of-the-range LTZ-V is a $63,990 proposition and adds more stylish 20-inch alloys riding on adaptive suspension that can have the dampers stiffened for sportier driving. There’s also a double sunroof, 360-degree camera, Bose sound system, partially digital instrument cluster, ventilated front seats and active cruise control that can maintain a set distance to the car in front. That cruise control uses a radar, which makes the auto emergency braking more accurate and doubles its maximum operating speed from 80km/h to 160km/h. The LTZ-V also gets a distinctive chrome strip down the side and eschews the black plastic finishes around the wheel arches and lower parts of the door for a colour-coded look that give it a chunkier demeanour.

Ultimately, there’s not much missing from the Acadia lineup, although a head-up display is one thing not available in a car otherwise crammed with features.

What’s the interior and practicality like?

Seven seats are standard and no one is overlooked in terms of accommodation in an SUV that does a great job of utilising the space within.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Up front, the seats have good lateral support and it extends a fair way up the backrest. Even lanky or large drivers will find plenty of adjustability in every direction, too.

In the middle row there’s, equally, generous legroom and a flat floor. Combined with the width of the car it makes three adults do-able across the pew. That middle row also slides forward or back, allowing a trade-off between middle and third row space. Plus, you can split-fold it in a 60/40 configuration; the only downside is that the smaller of the folding sections is on the driver’s side of the car, so if you want to load the kids into the third from the kerb side of the car you have to fold down the larger part of the seat.

Legroom tends towards tight in that third row, although there’s at least space for feet in the foot well. With the middle row edged forward slightly it’s more welcoming. A cupholder on either side as well as an angled binnacle on the left-hand side look after odds and ends, while circular air vents in the roof feed air to the second and third rows. That the kids caught in that back row even get a USB outlet (complementing the twin outlets in the front and second rows) reinforces the effort to ensure everyone is appropriately catered for. Parents will appreciate the child seat tether points on all five rear seats, too, giving plenty of options for where little ones reside.

Sizeable door pockets account for the bulk of storage elsewhere, although there’s a handy – and long – drawer that slides out of the rear of the centre console. It’s perfect for wayward toys or as a hidey hole for valuables. Those in the middle row also have separate ventilation controls, as well as an arm rest with integrated cupholders.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Up front, the centre console is deep, for additional storage, and there are cupholders and other binnacles to look after phones and other paraphernalia.

What are the controls and infotainment like?

The brash, bold exterior styling carries through to much of the interior, including the bluff dashboard with its silver border surrounding the infotainment screen. That screen features the latest General Motors software and graphics, which incorporates simple but efficient icons and swipe functionality to dart between menus. Smartphone regulars will have no issues with the functionality, knobs and fixed buttons that make up the controls. However, the blank space between the main menu buttons is an odd addition.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Elsewhere, the main ventilation controls are also legible and easy to operate, positioned prominently in the central cluster.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Dig deeper and there’s a mix of plastics and finishes. Overall the theme is dark and formal, broken up by detailing and highlights, including the woodgrain-like trim on the LTZ-V. Most of the plastics and materials look presentable, albeit without the finer attention of some Japanese rivals. And there’s the occasional minor letdown that, again, shows up the finer detailing.

One disappointment is the instrument cluster in the LT and LTZ. The circular speedo and tacho are quite small and split by some basic analogue gauges and a trip computer that allows for a digital speedo if you scroll through to the appropriate screen. It gets the job done but lacks the modernity of some rivals. The LTZ-V partially addresses it with its large digital panel blending into traditional gauges.

A terrific addition for Australia are the sunvisors that, when flipped to block sun coming from the side, can slide forward and back.

The gear selector is also large and easy to use, although those who fancy themselves as self-shifters may miss the lack of paddle shifters; worse, still, is the fussy +/- selector on top of the gear lever.

It’s a shame the convex mirror didn’t make the conversion to right-hand drive (it gives an extended view on the driver’s side rather than the passenger side) although it’s one of the rare items that wasn’t appropriately dealt with in creating this right-hand drive model.

What’s the performance like?

The Acadia uses the same basic 3.6-litre V6 employed in the latest ZB Commodore (the first imported one). Peak outputs are slightly different – 231kW and 367Nm – due to different exhaust and intake systems.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Not that it makes a big difference. Matched to an excellent nine-speed automatic the transmission does a terrific job of harnessing what is a lusty and willing V6. Ratios are closely spaced, allowing the engine to remain in its sweet spot, higher revs the order of the day when you call for maximum acceleration. It’s a brisk car if you’re prepared to keep your right foot buried.

Responses to throttle inputs are near instant, with a welcome crispness to the pedal feel. Dial up Sport mode on the circular selector and it’s sharpened further, perhaps too much so for some tastes. No qualms with the way Sport mode drops down a gear slightly earlier, the transmission again asserting itself as a great accompaniment. It’ll even hold lower gears when darting through bends, taking account of steering inputs to make gear ratio choices.

However, if you want to eke the best out of the Acadia it pays to rev the engine hard. Peak power, for example, is produced way up at 6600rpm, just as the engine is slotting into its next ratio. Even the maximum torque requires 5000rpm on board, although there’s a healthy dose from just above idle.

While the 2WD models are lighter by 94kg, the inside front wheel is prone to wheelspin when powering hard out of a tight bend or T-intersection. It’s accentuated on a wet road.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

And, while the four-wheel drive model can be set to drive only the front wheels, you can also engage all four wheels to ensure more confident starts, particularly in slippery conditions. That 4WD system also eliminates the mild ‘torque steer’, whereby the steering tugs gently under hard acceleration

Fuel use is claimed at 8.9 litres per 100km in 2WD variants, with 4WD models upping that to 9.3L/100km. During our occasionally spirited country driving we noticed figures hovering between 10 and 11L/100km.

What’s it like on the road?

It may be from the cruisy US of A, but Australian engineers had a hand in tailoring the dynamic equation of the Acadia to our tastes. First up were the tyres, with unique Continental rubber fitted to cars sold in Australia. It’s paired with suspension that’s slightly firmer for more immediate responses.

And it works. On the 18-inch tyres fitted to the LT and LTZ there is a maturity to the way it deals with imperfections, quickly dispersing of anything too big and admirably quashing smaller bumps. At lower speeds there’s some more initial firmness, but it’s well within the expectations of a comfortable family cruiser.

Steering is progressive but a fraction light, albeit predictable in its responses to driver inputs. Impressively, you can dial up the fun and the Acadia rises to the occasion, ensuring little in the way of rock’n’roll on quick direction changes. Not everyone will push it to its limits, but most will appreciate the inherent body control on display even during gentle driving.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Grip levels are generally decent, although in the wet the front wheels are prone to some slipping and sliding, the limits easily reached in tighter bends.

Active noise cancelling keeps road noise to impressively low levels, the start of a serene cabin environment that quells unwanted noises nicely.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Some of that comfort is diluted once you step up to the 20-inch tyres that come as part of the LTZ-V package. The lower profile – in turn leaving less air between the rim and the road – means you’ll pick up more of those smaller bumps Australia does so well. Similarly, the shift to the firmer damper setting – engaged when Sport mode is selected – tightens things slightly, albeit with enough subtlety to maintain most of the comfort.

The trade off is more cornering grip, further ramping up the fun factor.

What’s it like off the road?

Those splashing out the extra $4000 for the off-road system can expect light-duty off-road performance. Sure, there’s an off-road mode as part of the drive selector dial, but it only alters traction control and throttle response rather than engaging some go-anywhere high-riding mode.

Ground clearance is a respectable 198mm (or 203mm if you get the LTZ-V with its 20-inch wheels) but there’s only lightweight protection from underbody scrapes.

So, confine it to snow runs and some loose gravel roads and you’ll appreciate the extra surety.

Does it have a spare?

There’s a space saver spare buried beneath the boot floor and beneath a foam storage binnacle. It’s an effort to access it, involving unclipping brackets, unscrewing a tether and wrestling the foam storage area from its resting place.

When you get there it’s a very skinny spare that limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h.

Can you tow with it?

All Acadias come much of the towing hardware already in place. There’s the mounting bracket on the back of the car along with a wiring loom for the trailer lights. You’ll still need to buy a towball and tongue and the wiring for trailer brakes if you’re running electronic ones.

What about ownership?

The Acadia is covered by Holden’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Service intervals are lengthy from a time perspective, at 12 months. But the car needs to be checked every 12,000km, something that will mean more frequent visits for those doing big kays. The first four services cost between $259 and $359, depending on which service is required.

What safety features does it have?

Whereas two relatively new additions to the Holden stables – the Astra and Equinox – skimped on safety gear with the more affordable models, the Acadia has come out swinging with a good smattering of equipment.

Even the base LT comes with auto emergency braking that uses a camera to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. It operates up to 80km/h. There’s also lane keeping assistance, although it has the usual caveats of often missing marked lines and over-correcting or steering when you don’t necessarily want it to. A reversing camera is paired with rear parking sensors.

The LTZ-V betters that with a radar system that not only adds active cruise control but also doubles the operating speed of the AEB to 160km/h. Systems that combine radar and camera technology typically do a better job of determining when to hit the brakes, too.

All Acadias also get a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, with all but the base model adding front parking sensors to the deal. Other features across all models include blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, the latter assisting with backing out of parallel parking spots.

Again, the LTZ-V takes it a step further with a 360-degree camera for a virtual overhead view courtesy of three additional camera. All seven seats have seatbelt reminders, too, for easy tracking of who’s belted up.

The Acadia hasn’t been yet been independently crash tested by ANCAP.

2019 Holden Acadia Review

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the infotainment and controls?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring Says: The Acadia is a return to form for Holden courtesy of a long list of features and sharp pricing packaged into a large SUV body that delivers comfort for up to seven people. Highlights include a sizeable interior and great driving manners that find a nice balance between keeping occupants content and decent control for the driver. While the V6 engine doesn’t set any benchmarks, it’s a willing unit with above-average performance. There’s the occasional hiccup when you delve into the details, but none are enough to eliminate the Acadia from the large SUV consideration list.

Toby Hagon

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.