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2014 GMC Acadia (General Motors)
2014 GMC Acadia (General Motors)

Best of the Lot

Better to be safe than sorry with a new SUV Add to ...

We’re looking at replacing our older Dodge Grand Caravan with a larger SUV. Can you direct me to a website where I can view safety ratings for larger SUVs? What SUVs do you guys like? – Robert in Peterborough, Ont.

Vaughan: The Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, were the only mid-size SUVs out of nine evaluated to qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest award for 2014, Top Safety Pick+.

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Those two got a good rating in the IIHS small overlap front crash test, which continues to challenge manufacturers more than a year and a half after its introduction. Robert can find all the ratings at the Institute’s website at iihs.org.

Cato: The IIHS has, for years, done what the Canadian and U.S. governments should have been doing: high-quality safety research that hits home with consumers and the news media in uncomplicated ways. Visit the IIHS site and then go to the site for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Motor Vehicle Safety corner of Transport Canada’s site. Judge for yourself. Who’s doing the best job of education consumers and putting pressure on auto makers and safety regulators alike? It’s the IIHS, hands down.

As for Robert, he wants a larger SUV, not a mid-size Terrain or its ilk. GM did well there, too. The top three in crash-worthiness were all from the General: GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. Rob, visit a GM dealer where all of those are sold out of a single showroom.

2014 Buick Enclave

Vaughan: That’s not because they are all built on the same platform, either. GM in Canada has a different retail network than in the United States, where dealers are strong and the brands are more separated than here – where you find Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC all lined up, side-by-side.

Cato: That makes distribution for the General simpler, but it also means a delicious Caddy CTS is within a few feet of a Chevy Spark runabout, all in a single showroom. Tough to build a luxury brand like Caddy with that strategy.

Vaughan: Bobby isn’t interested in GM’s retailing strategies, flawed or otherwise. What he should know is that the three SUVs in question are built on the same platform. Why? Because it’s not surprising that they “crash” the same.

Good for GM engineers to come up with such safe vehicles. GM could use a little good news at the moment.

2014 GMC Acadia

Cato: The Acadia, other than being robust, starts at $39,495 for all-wheel drive, but Rob will get it for less because GM has a couple of grand on the table. I like this one. The cabin looks nice and tidy, the ride is car-like and the V-6 – 288 horsepower – while not a world-beater, is solid. Rob can find more power and better fuel economy elsewhere, but if it’s a safe rig that he wants, this will punch his ticket – with room for up to seven passengers.

Vaughan: The Acadia’s standard features include a rear-view camera; good in a big vehicle. If Bobby wants to spend more money, he can buy lane departure warning, forward collision alert and blind spot warning systems. The Acadia is solid, but I prefer the Buick Enclave for styling and the Chevy Traverse for price.

Cato: I tried to convince a Rosedale pal of mine to buy a discounted Enclave over a three-year-old Mercedes-Benz ML. Would have saved him thousands in a quieter and well-built Buick, but in Rosedale, a Buick owner might as well be driving a Lada or a Yugo for all it will do for his or her image.

The Enclave is a good, luxurious rig with three-row seating for big families. About $45,000 to start, minus factory incentives.

Vaughan: It’s identical in safety offerings with a standard rear-view camera and the same available safety system options as the Acadia, and the same power train. Styling and price sets Enclave apart from the other two.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse

Cato: And so to the plain-Jane, $36,295 Traverse, minus sales sweeteners. Same basic platform, power train and seating capacity as the other, but toned-down looks and not as many goodies. This one is best for Rob’s budget.

Vaughan: These three with their great crash scores have been around mostly unchanged since 2008 and have sold well. GM’s getting kicked around badly at the moment over that keyed ignition switch. The top safety ratings on its mid-size and larger SUVs remind you it can also get a lot right.

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.



2014 Chevrolet Traverse LS AWD

2014 Buick Enclave AWD (base)

2014 GMC Acadia SLE1 AWD

Wheelbase (mm):




Length (mm):




Width (mm):




Height (mm)





3.6-litre V-6

3.6-litre V-6

3.6-litre V-6

Output (horsepower/torque)

281/266 lb-ft

288/270 lb-ft

288/270 lb-ft

Drive system:

All-wheel drive

All-wheel drive

All-wheel drive


Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

13.8 city/8.6 highway using regular fuel

13.8 city/8.6 highway using regular fuel

13.8 city/8.6 highway using regular fuel

Base price




Source: car manufacturers

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