Since it was first introduced in 2014, the third-generation Toyota Kluger has led the large soft-roader SUV market, despite its market share being cannibalised by its LandCruiser Prado stablemate.
The Kluger has so far managed to see off fresher competition - including the excellent Mazda CX-9 - in the sales race, but as it nears the end of its model life, a new rival has arrived to threaten its dominance.
Like the Kluger, the Holden Acadia is primarily designed for the US market, with big brash lines and plenty of space that also appeals to Australian families. But is the Holden that replaced the Captiva 7 good enough to truly compete with Toyota in Australia’s rampant SUV market?
The Acadia LTZ-V AWD retails for $67,490 and, excluding limited edition variants, is currently the most expensive vehicle to wear a Holden badge.
Wheels: 2018 Holden Acadia launch review
The LTZ-V is also available with 2WD for $4000 less, with both versions costing $20,000 more than their entry-level LT counterpart. 2019 Acadia pricing is as follows:
- Acadia LT 2WD - $43,490
- Acadia LT AWD - $47,490
- Acadia LTZ 2WD - $53,490
- Acadia LTZ AWD - $57,490
- Acadia LTZ-V 2WD - $63,490
- Acadia LTZ-V AWD - $67,490
Spending close to $70,000 on the LTZ-V brings premium features, and a scrolling equipment list rivalling six-figure priced European models. And the price is competitive against rival range-toppers such as the Mazda CX-9 Azami LE ($66,490) and Toyota Kluger Grande ($69,617).
For a limited time Holden is offering keen drive-away pricing on all Acadia variants offering the LTZ-V for $67,990 including on-road costs. Almost everything is included in the price with options confined to accessories, and prestige paint which attracts a $550 premium.
All Acadias are powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine with nine-speed automatic transmission that, with AWD, drinks regular unleaded petrol at a rate of 9.3L/100km.
The Acadia also benefits from fixed priced scheduled servicing with 12-month or 12,000km intervals, and is covered by Holden’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
The Kluger comes in three model grades, GX, GXL and Grande that are each available with front- or all-wheel-drive, with the latter attracting a $4000 premium. 2018 Toyota Kluger pricing is as follows:
- Kluger GX FWD - $44,500
- Kluger GX AWD - $48,500
- Kluger GXL FWD - $52,990
- Kluger GXL AWD - $54,990
- Kluger Grande FWD - $65,646
- Kluger Grande AWD - $69,617
The Grande AWD ‘s $69,617 price tag makes it the most expensive non-4X4 Toyota available in Australia, and is higher than better-equipped rivals sitting atop their respective ranges, such as the Mazda CX-9 Azami LE ($66,490) and Holden Acadia LTZ-V AWD ($67,490).
Read next: 2018 Toyota Kluger: Which Spec is best
The Grande does come with the full enchilada though, including active safety features that are optional in the GX and GXL grades meaning, apart from accessories such as floor mats and roof racks, the only extra you’ll pay is about $480 for premium paint should the standard Eclipse Black hue not be your thing.
In all-wheel-drive guise the Kluger’s 3.5-litre V6 engine consumes regular unleaded petrol at an official combined rate of 9.5L/100km.
The Kluger requires servicing every 10,000km or six months, which is a higher frequency than most, though Toyota’s capped priced servicing means you’ll pay just $180 for the first six services during the first three years or 60,000km.
The Kluger is still covered by Toyota’s three year/100,000km warranty, which seems a little stingy considering most of its rivals have at least five years/unlimited kilometre coverage.
Detailed information, about the entire Kluger range can be found in out 2018 Toyota Kluger Range Review.
The Acadia LTZ-V is brimming with comfort and safety features starting with the standard equipment across the range that includes:
- The latest generation MyLink infotainment viewed via an 8.0-inch touchscreen
- Android Auto/Apple Carplay
- Satellite navigation
- Rear Park Assist
- Rear View Camera
- Traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed assist
- Hitch View System
- Towing package (accessory ball mount & tow ball required)
- Keyless entry/push-button start
- Tri zone climate control
Read next: 2019 Holden Acadia SUV features detailed
- Alloy Wheels
- LED Daytime Running Lamps
- Autonomous emergency braking with bicycle and pedestrian detection
- Forward collision alert with head-up warning
- Blind spot monitoring
- Lateral impact avoidance
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Following Distance Indicator
- Driver Mode Control
Add to that the comfort features found in the LTZ, including:
- Leather-appointed trim
- 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat
- 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat
- Heated front seats
- Auto-dimming interior mirror
- Chrome door handles
- Front fog lamps
- Rain sensing wipers
- Wireless phone charging (compatible devices)
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Front Park Assist
- Advanced Park Assist
Plus all these features exclusive to the LTZ-V:
- 10-way power adjustable front passenger seat
- Driver’s seat memory
- Ventilated front seats
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Dual-panel sunroof
- Bi function HID headlamps
- ‘FlexRide’ adaptive suspension
- Adaptive cruise control with stop & go
- All-speed autonomous emergency braking
- 360-degree camera
- Digital dashboard display
- 8-Speaker Bose Premium Audio with amplifier and subwoofer.
Read next: Holden Acadia spotted on holiday
The Kluger Grande AWD brings additional safety and luxury features over and above the standard features list and brings for its $67,490 retail price tag:
- Part leather upholstery
- Three-zone air-conditioning
- Keyless entry
- Power-operated tailgate
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Power adjusted front seats, with driver’s seat memory
- 8.0-inch touchscreen
- Digital radio
Read next: 2017 Toyota Kluger Quick Review
- Satellite navigation
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Lane keeping assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
- Reverse parking sensors
- Rear-cross traffic alert
- Blind-spot monitor
- Rear-cross traffic alert
- Auto-dipping dusk-sensing headlights
- Daytime running lights
- 19-inch alloy wheels
The Acadia’s 4.98m length, 1.92m width and sizable 2.86m wheelbase translates to genuine three-row accommodation for up to seven adults. The middle row seats slide back and forth to provide good legroom in the third row without compromising anyone else’s comfort.
The Acadia LTZ-V stands at 1.77m high, which means good headroom in all three rows even with the panoramic sunroof.
With all seats in place the boot holds 292 litres, which expands to a capacious 1042 litres. Fold down both the third and second rows and you can store up to 2102 litres behind the front seats.
The US-built Kluger is 4.89 metres long and 1.93m wide with the main cabin sitting above its 2.8m wheelbase. One reason for its popularity is that while it comfortably accommodates a family of seven, its size isn’t a hindrance when it comes to parking or negotiating city streets.
Head and legroom is excellent in the first two rows, but get a little tight in row three that’s best suited for kids.
The Acadia takes safety features introduced to the ZB Commodore a step further with active safety and driver assistance tech designed to protect vehicle occupants as well as other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
This includes traffic sign recognition that can work with the speed limiter to automatically govern your speed to the limit when you enter a new speed zone. The system was developed by Holden engineers who tested it around Australia so the system could recognise the dozens of different speed signs posted throughout the country.
The Acadia’s autonomous emergency braking recognises cars, cyclists and pedestrians, and in the LTZ-V, works at highway and city speeds.
The LTZ-V is the only Acadia to feature adaptive cruise control, which also functions in traffic jams.
Read next: Holden Equinox range review
Other key safety features include rear-cross traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitor, and lateral collision avoidance that steers the Acadia to the side to avoid a vehicle beside it, if it begins to stray from its lane.
The Acadia also has seatbelt alerts and a passenger reminder that warns you to double check that you haven’t forgotten any sleeping kids, pets or valuables before you leave the vehicle.
Crash protection includes seven airbags including driver’s knee and full-length side curtain protection that extends to the third row.
The second row has two ISOFIX child seat anchor points and there are five conventional child restraint anchors including two in the third row.
The Holden Acadia is yet to receive an ANCAP crash rating.
The Kluger Grande comes with the full suite of available active safety features, including radar-based autonomous emergency braking that works at city and highway speeds – part of what Toyota calls its Pre-Collision Safety system. This is backed up by lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert.
The Kluger is also equipped with seven airbags, including driver knee bag and side curtain protection for all three rows, and it has three child-seat anchor points for the middle row of seats but none for the back row.
The Kluger scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in April 2017.
Read next: Toyota to expand its hybrid fleet by 2022
The Acadia LTZ-V’s interior is full of premium features but suffers from a lack of finesse – a common trait in many American-built cars. Apart from the leather upholstery and extra buttons it doesn’t look too different from the entry-level LT, though that can be taken as a compliment toward the LT that’s very well equipped for the price.
That said, soft-touch surfaces abound and the leather seats are very comfortable. The heated and ventilated front seats support you from each side making you feel like you could drive all day, and even the middle and third row benches feel plush.
Second row passengers get their own climate control settings with air vents in the ceiling, reading lights, a deep drawer that slides out from under the centre console and two USB sockets – all USB sockets in the Acadia are rated at 2.1 amps to allow for fast charging of larger devices such as tabletThe third row is among the roomiest of all seven-seat SUVs and is even on par with the Kia Carnival people mover. It seats two adults with enough legroom so they’re not looking at their knees. Third row passengers also get a USB socket, reading lights and ceiling mounted air vents.
Getting in to the third row is helped by being able to slide the second-row forward, but the door opening is a little narrow meaning entry and egress can become a rather ungraceful exercise.
Storage options are extensive throughout the cabin and include door bins with a separate nook under the arm rests, and under-floor tubs in front of the second row seats.
Read next: 2019 Holden Acadia pricing and features
At the time of launch the Aussie developed multi-media system was the most advanced of any GM vehicle worldwide. It’s intuitive, with sharp graphics including the reversing/360-degree camera display, and you can sync two phones at a time via Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
The LTZ-V also has a digital gauge display that looks good, but it simply displays analogue-like gauges and a multi-function display with no alternative functions as with systems such as Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit.
Road noise is well contained and the ride comfort feels silky even on the 20-inch wheels, thanks to the adaptive dampers.
Speaking of wheels, our one major bugbear with the Acadia is access to the spare wheel, which is hidden under the boot floor and another layer which makes it difficult to find, let alone remove even after you’ve removed all your cargo and folded away the third row seats.
The Kluger Grande’s stylish cabin looks well put together and you can choose between dark black and tan trim with neither costing extra. That said it doesn’t feel like a $70,000 car.
Cabin storage abounds, starting with huge centre console bin, and broad storage tray above the glovebox that is good for holding phones. Big door pockets and a deep centre console provide ample space for bottles, handbags and the like.
First and second-row seats are plush and supportive, for good long distance comfort. The third row seats are reasonably comfortable, but pretty tight for bigger people for anything more than short trips, though legroom is helped by being able to fit your feet under the second row seats.
Ventilation controls are big and easy to operate, and there is a separate control unit for rear passengers mounted on the ceiling that blows airs through vents located in the third and second rows. There are also retractable blinds in which slide up and down to cover the rear-door windows and protect children from the direct sun.
On a country road or freeway, the Kluger is impressively quiet inside and rides comfortably. The cabin filters out road noise, but the wind can be loud around the big door mirrors.
ON THE ROAD
Despite its American truck looks and 2032kg kerb weight, the Acadia LTZ-V has car-like handling that benefits from its ‘Flexride’ adaptive suspension and an extensive local tuning program to make it more comparable with Aussie roads.
One of Holden’s engineers told ufcnancy he reckons they’ve got the LTZ-V to feel like the VF Holden Caprice luxury sedan and once behind the wheel we realised he was actually serious.
The Acadia’s ride feels soft and loping, but well composed, while switching the Sport driving mode stiffens the adaptive dampers, as well as adapting the gear ratios, steering and traction, resulting in precise and composed cornering with surprisingly little body roll even when sitting in the third row.
The AWD system comes with five selectable drive modes: 2x4 to help save fuel, 4x4, Sport, Off-Road and Trailer/Tow, but unfortunately there is no Custom mode to allow you to mix and match sport and comfort settings.
The Acadia shares the same 3.6-litre V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission as the Commodore, though in a slightly less powerful tune that offers up to 231kW and 367Nm. With all the extra gear, the LTZ-V AWD is the only Acadia variant to exceed two tonnes, but that doesn’t seem to bother the V6, which hauls the heft well and offers a nice rumbling sound to go with its macho American looks.
It’s enjoyable to drive, but there’s no opportunity to engage more with no manual shifting option via the gear shifter or steering wheel paddles, though there is toggle switch that lets you select lower gears when towing.
The Acadia will tow up to 2000kg and the Trailer/Tow drive setting changes the auto transmission’s shift patterns to provide more torque or traction when needed. All Acadia’s also come standard with a tow bar to attach a tow ball mount, and there’s also a hitch view system that lets you line up the tow ball and trailer via the reversing camera display.
The Kluger is pleasant to drive with a comfortable seating position and good forward vision. It feels planted to the road and the 218kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine runs smoothly and quickly responds to your right foot via the eight-speed automatic transmission.
The ride is smooth, even on the bigger 19-inch wheels. It recovers well when riding over big bumps, but does tend to vibrate when passing over smaller road imperfections.
At 2100kg, it’s not exactly designed for hard cornering, but it does feel stable through bends. The steering has a little play in it, though you do get more response from the 19-inch wheels than with the 18s under the GL and GLX.
While not a true off-roader like its Landcruiser Prado stablemate, the Kluger’s all-wheel-drive system instils confidence during off-bitumen driving on gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads, and farm tracks. A snow button near the gear selector reduces the chance of wheelspin on slippery surfaces.
The Acadia feels a generation ahead of the Kluger, especially at the generously-equipped range-topping level.
Both carry out the luxury family hauler mission well, but the Acadia LTZ-V manages to tick all the boxes ahead of the Kluger Grande including space, efficiency, driveability, active safety and infotainment. The only thing Acadia hasn’t got going for it is a Toyota badge on the tailgate.