The GMC Acadia AWD SLT-1: Taking Road Trips to a Whole New Level


So if you’ve read anything I’ve written about road trips, you’re probably familiar with Lucille, the Jeep that mostly runs…except if I have somewhere important to go. Named after the popular Kenny Rogers’ song, which starts with the words, “You’ve picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille…†she’s not known for her comfort, or style, or actual working parts.

The reason I mention this before writing my first car review is because I need to explain that some things I mention—like any technology made after 2009—gets me really excited. And while some of you may be used to things like satellite radio, Android Auto phone, heated seats and temperature control FOR EACH SEAT (clutching at my pearls, here), it is all new to me.

Three women are laying in the car and smiling.
We love a new car! And maybe we’re a little weird about it.

Meet the 2019 Acadia AWD SLT-1

GMC was kind enough to offer to let me drive their new 2019 Acadia AWD SLT-1 from Pittsburgh to western North Carolina for a visit to dad’s house combined with a girls’ getaway week. Joined by my sisters Jen and Holly, we set out to see what it was like to travel in style. And now we’re ruined for road trips, having discovered that the Acadia takes traveling to a whole new level—one that I don’t think we can live without.

A car dashboard with buttons and controls for the air conditioning.
So lovely and cool on the left. An arid desert on the right.

Not too Hot, Not too Cold, It’s Just Right!

Let’s start with the temperature-controlled seats. Every seat has its own complete ecosystem, programmed by the person sitting there. Since I am usually driving in shorts in a tank top while my sister is wearing three layers of clothes, sometimes gloves and always a large Russian-style hat, much of our road trip conversation is usually arguing about whether I’m trying to freeze her to death, or how hard it is to drive while dying of dehydration.

The fact that we could be comfortable for the entire eight-hour drive was no less than miraculous. And when we found that the Acadia had not one, but TWO sunroofs, it was just icing on the proverbial car cake. Jen loves nothing more than to take pictures of clouds. So instead of blocking my view with her camera, WHILE I’M DRIVING, she could just stare up at the sky, snapping away. It was nirvana.

Speaking of the sunroof, Holly, who is an avid knitter, loved the natural light and managed to complete two socks during the drive, putting her well ahead on her Christmas list and earning the Acadia a thumb’s up from the creative fiber community.

All the Bells and Whistles

A car dashboard showing the music playing.
Nothing like a car sing-a-long with satellite radio! You can tell how much we played with it by the fingerprints.

Now that I know what it’s like to have a vehicle with a back-up camera, side mirrors that flash when a car is in your blind spot, WiFi, push-button start and a crystal-clear navigation screen showing maps in a size I can read, I’ve realized just how much I’ve been missing. And having satellite radio and optional phone plug-in so that you can even get a station—or use your own playlist—driving through the West Virginia mountains is a lifesaver. A girl can only hear so much bluegrass.

I also appreciated being able to get my phone calls through the console; another feature that makes it so much safer to drive when you’re winding through the mountains and your 89-year-old father is calling to ask when you’ll arrive despite the fact that you told him what time you left. Because as he says, “It’s a dad’s job to worry.†Truth be told, he had a whole lot less worrying to do with us in this vehicle.

So How Does It Drive?

A view of the mountains from atop a mountain.
See that road way up to the right? That’s our route. Don’t mind Holly; she’s just bonding with nature.

We travel through a lot of mountains on our route, which includes I-79 South from Pittsburgh to 19 South through West Virginia, to 77 South through Virginia and North Carolina until we head west. Part of the route includes a six-mile hill climb of more than 1,500 feet, leveling out at Fancy Gap, which reaches 3,100 feet of elevation.

And the Acadia did not disappoint! This is the first time that I’ve made this trip and not felt every minute of the climb. The Acadia had all the power it needed and I didn’t feel, as I sometimes do on these roads, that I was going to have to get out and push the car to the top. The shifting was effortless. And the speed remained stable, even though we were climbing rapidly and rounding lots and lots of sharp curves.

A road going through the middle of a green forest.
It’s a climb, but it’s so worth the view.

We traveled up the Blue Ridge Parkway while in North Carolina, and again, the mountains were no match for the Acadia. The only drawback for me as a Jeep driver is that the big car couldn’t hug the curves like Lucille, and I had to really watch my speed on the downhills as the Acadia tended to get moving a lot faster than I expected.

A car is parked on the side of a road.
Taking a little break on the Blue Ridge Parkway. No wonder they’re nicknamed the Smoky Mountains!

Storage Space for Days

My dad also got to cruise around in the car with me, and I love that its design made it easy for him to get in and out of the car, and that he was surrounded in comfort for the entire drive. The easy tilt-up seating and the massive amount of storage space made it super easy to stock him up on everything he would need after we headed home—and did I mention how much I LOVE the remote-activated back door? So nice not to have to put packages down to find a key.

A woman leaning on the back of an open van.
So much room for storage and an easy-open back hatch. Now we’re spoiled.

Admittedly, neither of us knew what some of the fancy buttons did, but given time and the manual, I’m quite sure we would have been able to become almost as smart as the car.

You Seriously Want to Drive This

So what are some of the features that make the Acadia so special?

  • Three rows of seating, including second-row captain’s chairs or split-folding bench, offering greater flexibility with curbside seat sliding and tilting forward capability
  • Teen Driver standard on all models
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone projection capability (this completely rocks!)
  • GMC 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot
  • All three rows offer USB charge ports for compatible electronic devices
  • 8″ diagonal GMC Infotainment System1 with Navigation
  • Rear Seat Reminder
  • The base price starts at $30,195. (The model we drove sells for $42,295)

And did I mention that it’s gorgeous, too?

A black jeep parked in the grass near some trees.
If only we could have run away together. Permanently.

 

Author’s Note: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a loaner for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience—which was awesome! You can find out more about the GMC Acadia at www.GMC.com.

Toilet Paper Holders: It’s Called a Roll for a Reason


Most times, people send us products to review, and we’re happy to tell you our opinion of them. In some cases, however, I feel a NEED to review items that no one has asked me to talk about, simply because there are things that have to be said.

Case in point: Who thought it was a good idea to create a toilet paper roll holder that doesn’t secure the roll in any way? You know the kind—it’s just an arm that the roll slides onto….and slides off of just as easily.
I’ve seen this trend—known as an open design—at numerous upscale hotels lately, and it’s got me completely flummoxed, not to mention irritated. Oh sure, the roll hangs there daintily as long as no one actually needs to use it, but when you do attempt to tear a strip off the roll, not only does the paper come off, but so does the roll…and let’s just say you’re not in any position to play catch.

A chicken sandwich and fries are on the table.
When this flies off the handle (as it invariably does), I fly off the handle.

So let’s talk design flaws

I’m sure that tens of thousands of dollars were spent studying the efficiency of these toilet paper holders and how much time they save the staff, who instead of having to spend .01 seconds removing the toilet paper roll tube simply slide the new roll onto the arm without losing a beat.

And in theory, it’s a lovely concept. Less time spent in each bathroom, on each roll, surely adds up to enough time at the end of the year that hotel owners think that it’s a good investment.

But that’s because they aren’t the ones crawling around on the floor in the dark. Dripping.

While I appreciate whatever efficiency expert convinced hundreds of hotel chains and even independent boutique hotel owners to buy these hanging arms, what they didn’t take into account was that what goes on…more easily comes off.

This isn’t a good thing when you’re doing your business and in no position to lunge after the roll as it takes off like a shot across the room. It’s even worse when you have to crawl under the counter to retrieve it after it has merrily rolled to the farthest corner under the cabinet. And good housekeeping aside, does anyone really want to see what’s under there? Ewwww.

A chicken sandwich and fries are on the table.
THIS would even be better!

Consequences of a Flawed Design

I’m hoping that the hotel owners who have saved so much money on this model use their earnings for soundproofing, as the amount of swearing that I do when the roll escapes can surely be heard throughout the corridors. This is especially irritating in the middle of the night when I have crept like a ninja into the bathroom so as not to wake a roommate, which I now have to do since I can’t exactly jump up and retrieve the errant roll and need the help of a recovery team. Not surprisingly, people are really annoyed at being woken out of a sound sleep to help, causing even more bitching and the need for extra soundproofing in a room where you wouldn’t think you’d need to worry about heated discussions at 3 a.m.

It’s time for this design trend to end. While I appreciate the form, these types of holders fail in function, unless their true purpose is to get guests to check out the cleanliness of the deep, dark corners of the bathroom. Gack.