Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
Sometimes a single model carries so much expectation, the fortunes of the manufacturer ride on its success. Every new Holden seems to carry more expectations than most.
The former local heavyweight doesn’t carry the same influence it once had. It’s now a self-described challenger brand looking to compete with marques like Mazda, Hyundai and Kia. At the core of Holden’s problem is the lack of a hero model, something to get the loyalists excited.
For far too long, Holden has been a reactionary brand that has repeatedly failed to read the market and adequately prepare an appropriate portfolio. This is an issue we first raised in 2016.
Over the last 18 months, the heavies at GM have made changes. There’s a new local boss, a better ownership package and plenty of fresh metal. Unfortunately, the lion still isn’t roaring and the new and updated models haven’t fired.
Holden built its following on the back of the Commodore, the large family car was the brand’s bread and butter for decades. The new version hasn’t reached the heights of the previous model, but to be fair, tastes have changed and the passenger car is on the outer as the SUV continues to take over the family driveway.
All of this brings us perfectly to the 2019 Holden Acadia, a large seven-seat SUV that gives the brand the best chance to tempt former owners to rejoin the band.
The Acadia range opens at $42,990 and runs to $67,990 drive-away. Buyers can confidently disregard the published pricing, dealers are offering significant discounts without too much arm twisting.
To give the Acadia the best chance, Holden has stumped up a long list of standard equipment. A necessary step in terms of competitiveness. Most importantly, safety is the big talking point when it comes to the spec sheet.
Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam assist, forward collision alert, rear parking assist, blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and traffic sign recognition are standard across the range. 
Our tester is the range-topping LTZ-V variant in front-wheel drive guise, it has a list price of $63,990 drive-away. Equipment highlights include leather trim, 10-way power adjustable front seats with memory for the driver, front seat heating and ventilation, a dual-panel sunroof, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptable suspension and autonomous emergency braking that works at any speed.
Holden fans will be happy to know a 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine sits under the bonnet, it’s good for 231kW and 367Nm. The petrol unit might get Holden fans excited, however, the majority of large SUVs are now powered by turbo-diesel units, so Holden is going against the grain. The free-breathing engine it paired with the nine-speed automatic that is filtering through Holden’s new models.
Before the drive, we need to talk about the design. It’s not the sexiest SUV on the market, it’s a boxy unit that prioritises function over form.
Inside there’s plenty of space, even the cheap seats at the rear can accommodate adults. The legroom in the second row is excellent regardless of how tall the front passengers are and the flat floor means three can sit abreast without any issue. Pleasingly, every row enjoys an abundance of headroom despite the sunroofs.
Compared to some of Holden’s other new models, the Acadia gets far better materials in the cabin, the build quality and overall atmosphere are a leap ahead of the smaller Equinox. The love General Motors has for rock hard plastics isn’t evident here.
Careful attention has been shown to the operation of the cabin’s controls, the dials that operate the seat heating and cooling, and the climate controls feel upmarket. Same goes for the digital driver information display in the instrument cluster, it’s crystal clear and looks the business.
The only thing that lets the team down is the steering wheel, it doesn’t look as contemporary as it should in a car that's been touted as a new model, it looks like it would be at home in an American pick-up with a column shifter.
On the road, the LTZ-V Acadia is a mixed bag. The pedal feel isn’t the best, throttle and brake input needs to be carefully judged to keep things settled. At times during our test week, the front wheels struggled to consistently maintain traction when taking off, the all-wheel drive model may alleviate this problem. Drivers need to be overly gentle with the right boot, which means the Acadia isn’t as nice to drive in town as its rivals.
Same goes for the brake, it requires an overly delicate touch otherwise the car lurches forward in a very unsettling way. It takes some getting used to and continued concentration when the proper technique is mastered.
So the Acadia can’t match the Santa Fe or CX-9 when it comes to daily commuting or handling, but it does offer more space and higher levels of comfort.
The Acadia is in its element on the highway, it’s a great long-range cruiser with a quiet ride and supple suspension that handle rough roads with ease. Adding to the cabin’s comfort over long journeys is the abundance of USB ports. Every row gets 2.1-amp fast charge versions to help keep the peace.
Disappointingly, for a range-topper, the LTZ-V misses out on a tyre pressure monitoring system, something we noticed when dealing with a flat tyre during our highway assessment. This situation also highlighted the absurdity of the space saver spare wheel, which is completely inappropriate for a car of these proportions.
This issue of space savers isn’t exclusive to Holden, plenty of brands are using them. Our flat was the front driver’s side tyre, with the car being front wheel drive the flat needed to be swapped with a rear to use the space saver properly. A total PITA!
Another issue we dealt with during our test week was a frustratingly uncooperative sat nav that refused to function correctly. At one point it had us driving through Port Phillip Bay.
In the end, we gave up and turned to Apple CarPlay for directions. Other than the navigation problem, Holden’s infotainment system that operates through an 8.0-inch touchscreen is actually very good. It should be noted Android Auto is also standard.
While we are having a whinge, there’s also no heated mirrors or head-up display, not a big deal but details such as these should be scrutinised at this price point.
Large SUVs generally attract buyers with something to tow, the Acadia has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg, which is well below the industry standard.
At the conclusion of our time with the Acadia, we had covered 755km of mixed driving and returned a combined consumption figure of 9.3L/100km.
Holden now backs all its cars with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which is now the norm amongst the mainstream brands.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 12,000km whatever comes first. There’s a seven-year capped-price service program with costs averaging out to $307 a throw during that time.
Holden needs the Acadia to fire, it draws on the spacious and comfortable heritage of the Commodore’s glory days which will cause those loyal to the red lion to take notice.
The Acadia presents well, even more so if you find a motivated dealer. It will appeal to family buyers chasing space, but the drive is compromised when compared to the models from Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Toyota. Given the context of the market and our love of SUVs, there’s potential here if some extra polish can be applied. 
2019 Holden Acadia LTZ-V 2WD Specifications
Price from $63,990 drive-away Engine 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol Power 231kW @ 6600rpm Torque 367Nm @ 5000rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 8.9L/100km Tank Capacity 73L Length 4979mm Width 2139mm Height 1767mm Wheelbase 2857mm Kerb Weight 1938kg Ground Clearance 203mm Turning Circle 11.8m Service Intervals 12 months/12,000km Warranty five-year/unlimited kilometre