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The 2018 Mazda CX-9 seats seven for ancestors trips to the soccer field. And with up to 250 application and alternative AWD, it can hustle through the winter months also.(Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)Buy Photo

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I’m as bloodless as the abutting guy. Set me up with a balanced Audi A7 sedan. Or a cheetah-quick Porsche Boxster GTS. Or an explosively powerful, 707-horse Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Ooooooh, I would rob a coffer to get them in my garage.

But try to advertise me a  three-row family luxury SUV and I’m added rational. Five-door account and axiological physics accept fabricated some boilerplate cartage as adorable as their exceptional peers.

Take the upwardly adaptable $43,445 Mazda CX-9 and $43,145 GMC Acadia action utilities I’ve been blind out in.

These two boilerplate brands accept translated their (respectively) sports car and barter DNA into ancestors haulers that are attainable on the eyes, tech savvy and fun to drive. In so accomplishing they accept abundantly bankrupt the gap with affluence brands costing $15,000 added (the amount of a nice, acclimated Mazda 3 for your 16-year-old).

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I revisited the GMC and Mazda two years afterwards they aboriginal wowed me in 2016. This time around, I begin the all-wheel drive ancestors haulers were a bang over the country anchorage of Michigan and Virginia. Not abandoned did these 4,000-pounders backpack my ancestors in style, but they were fun to drive with close anatomy and active turbo-4s. You know, the being for which affluence cartage are known.

I busy the Acadia out of Dulles Airport which alternate me to the anchorage area I activated the GMC in May 2016. If you anticipate GMC is aloof about trucks, this ute will abruptness you.

Based on the aforementioned basic that abutment the active Cadillac XT5, the Acadia went on a 700-pound diet from the antecedent generation. It shows. In 2016, I chased an Audi A7 bobcat through Virginia’s askance hills, the Acadia assuming arresting address for a big rhino.

This time, country anchorage took me beyond the West Virginia band abreast the acclaimed Summit Point racetrack. The Acadia possesses an excellent all-wheel drive arrangement that includes a approach selector with 4×2, 4×4, Snow and Sport. Yes, Sport. Punch in, authority on to the aperture handles, dearies, and let’s go Audi hunting.

Mated to GM’s accomplished 9-speed transmission, the 193-horse 4-cylinder is up to the task. The Mazda, alike added so.

True to its ZOOM ZOOM lineage, central every Mazda ute beats the affection of a Miata. The CX-9 takes ute athleticism to the abutting level.

Not that GMC should adhere its head. Car and Driver abstinent identical G-load numbers for both SUVs in its skid-pad test. That’s a remarkable carbon for a ute with pickups as parents.

The Mazda artlessly manages its backpack with added aggressiveness than the GMC. It additionally wins on appearance points. Indeed, CX-9 shames best exceptional cartage with its fastback administration and runway-model fascia.

The new GMC Acadia adored a whopping 700 pounds from the antecedent generation, which makes it a joy to drive — not aloof to academy and back, but on rolling country roads. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

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Though beneath butch than antecedent generations, the GMC could still use addition arrangement with the artificial surgeon. Look at adolescent brother GMC Terrain, one of the lookers of the bunched class. A Terrain-like apparel for Acadia would bout the SUV’s upscale, amphitheater ball moves.

Inside, the GMC accomplish up its game.

While the Mazda struts its handsome European apparel of rotary dial, book awning and all-embracing dash, architecture abandoned won’t get you actual far if you get absent in the West Virginia Outback.

Mazda continues to be backward to the smartphone connectivity ball admitting it promises the accepted affection … um, soon. Aloof how advantageous this affection can be was approved by my Acadia.

Like its GM brethren, Acadia was one of the aboriginal in articulation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. They both assignment alluringly in the GMC’s arch unit. My acquaintance is that abandoned some affluence models — BMWs, Mercedes S-class, Acura RDX — accept aeronautics systems that can attempt with smartphones. And who wants to pay big bucks for the privilege?

My Acadia came with no nav. No problem.

Plug in your iPhone, and bingo! — the GMC’s infotainment system’s Google Maps baffled us beyond the wildest of Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. This is every smartphone-user’s dream — no charge to advancement to an (inferior) auto nav feature. No charge to apprentice a new system. Aloof admission the destination on your buzz afore abrogation the hotel/home/work. Plug. And play.

The GMC and the Mazda won’t win any awards for autogenous space, but these are big three-row utes. Amplitude comes standard.

My six-foot-plus sons fit calmly in the rear of the Acadia area they apprehend books, played computer games, alike adequate acknowledgment to the GMC’s anxious recliner (Mazda has a agnate feature). The third row is attainable in both the Acadia and Mazda with easy, one step pull-and-slide additional row seats (though the Acadia, for account reasons, abandoned accesses the third row on the barrier side). I was cramped, but I’m a 6-foot-5 bazaar freak, for advantage sake.

Where the CX-9 shows off capacity like auto aerial beams and a head-up display, the Acadia responds with anxious items like a rear commuter assurance check: Exit the car and the GMC reminds you if you accept larboard article like your computer in the aback seat. Or, heaven forbid, a child. Clever.

But again GMC takes able too far. Determined to accretion EPA’s favor, the GMC refuses owners the advantage of axis off its Stop/Start engine feature. Stop/Start is this decade’s agnate of the 1970s’ automated bench belt. Annoying.

This is the additional Acadia rental I’ve had with the affection and it grates like fingernails on a chalkboard. It drives my wife crazy. The connected arrest at stoplights. BRRRUMP. The connected convulse aback to life. BRRUPUP. Sure, GM’s Stop-Start is smoother than most, but it’s not bland enough.

Mercifully, CX-9 does not appear able with Stop/Start. The accessory ammunition accumulation are not account the expense. Like GMC’s accommodation to abandoned accouter the curbside additional row with third-row access.

On such baby capacity can buyers’ purchase decisions hang. Maybe the GMC’s smartphone adequacy seals the accord for Acadia. Maybe the Mazda’s adult administration flips your switch.

Either way, the capacity bloodless in allegory to that $15,000 it’ll amount you to buy a commensurable affluence ute. Maybe that exceptional brand buys cachet — but as Acadia and CX-9 prove, it doesn’t buy you a bigger chariot.

Henry Payne is auto analyzer for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.

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The 2018 GMC Acadia’s autogenous offers acceptable ergonomics and allowance for stashing baby items. Best advantageous is smartphone app connectivity, which accustomed auto analyzer Henry Payne cross rural West Virginia admitting not accepting an in-car nav system. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

2018 GMC Acadia

Vehicle type: Front-engine, front- and all-wheel drive, seven-passenger SUV

Price: $29,995 base ($43,145 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.5-liter inline-4-cylinder

Power: 193 horsepower, 188 pound-feet torque 

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, NA; towing: 1,000 pounds

Weight: 3,956 pounds (FWD)

Fuel economy: EPA ammunition economy: 21 city/25 highway/23 combined 

Report card

Highs: Lightweight, active chassis; Smartphone app connectivity

Lows: Can’t about-face off Stop-Start; bloodless 1,000-pound towing

Overall: 3 stars

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 sports beautiful, Euro-style autogenous architecture — admitting it lags the GMC Acadia in animate accumulator allowance and smartphone app connectivity. (Photo: Henry Payne, The Detroit News)

2018 Mazda CX-9

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Vehicle type: Front-engine, front-and rear-wheel drive, seven-passenger SUV

Price: $33,125 base ($43,445 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.5-liter, turbocharged inline-4

Power: 227-250 application (87 or 93 octane gas), 310 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Performance: Zero-60: 7.5 abnormal (Car & Driver est.); 3,500-pound towing

Weight: 4,361 pounds 

Fuel economy: EPA ammunition economy: 20 city/26 highway/23 combined 

Report card

Highs: One good-lookin’ ute; able-bodied ride

Lows: No abounding moon roof; smartphone app connectivity, please

Overall: 3 stars

 

 

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