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A black GMC Acadia, which wins when comparing the 2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Ford Explorer, is in a salt flat valley.

2019 GMC Acadia vs. 2019 Ford Explorer


The crossover sport utility vehicle world is a big one. There are vehicles from every automaker, from every part of the world, covering the roads. While not all of them make it to the American streets, we still have more than enough options to explore. Two of those options and two of the better ones to pit against each other are the 2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Ford Explorer. These two SUVs have quite the reputation in the SUV market, and with good reason.

The reason that SUVs are so popular today is that they combine elements of any other vehicles that Americans have cherished over the last century. They have the size and roominess of a van or station wagon; they have the rugged utility of pickup trucks; they have the mass appeal of cars; the one thing they can’t be is convertible – well, not yet anyway. Because of their versatility, they have a lot to offer in many different areas. Unfortunately, no one SUV excels in every area. There is no such thing as a “class leading” everything. It would make your job researching your next SUV much easier if there was such a thing. But, for now, we have to look at each one of these vehicles individually to see how they perform in certain areas. Read on to see how the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Ford Explorer stack up against each other in areas such as engine performance, cargo space, and safety ratings.


A 2019 Ford Explorer engine is shown.

Regardless of what the rest of the vehicle offers, the engine is still the most vital part. You can have all the luxury appointments and convenience features known to man. If you don’t have an engine in your vehicle, all you have is a high-tech conversation starter. That being said, the engine is only one of many selling points on vehicles such as the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Ford Explorer, even if it is a major one.

The 2019 GMC Acadia features but one engine, albeit a pretty impressive one. It is a 3.6L V6 that gets up to 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. It is the one and only engine, regardless of which of the Acadia’s six trim levels. It has a base tow capacity of 1,000 pounds, but can be outfitted to tow up to 4,000 pounds.

The 2019 Ford Explorer, on the other hand, offers three engine options. The first is a 3.5L V6 with 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. Optional on higher trim levels are two further engines: a 2.3L inline turbo 4-cylinder with only 280 horsepower, but 310 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.5L V6 with 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. These two optional engines are much more suited for a little off-road fun with your 2019 Ford Explorer than the base engine. The Explorer also has a max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is quite a bit more than the Acadia’s 4,000 pounds.

If you are looking to simplify your choice and go with a powerful enough engine to get you from point A to point B with no problem, the 2019 GMC Acadia is a fine choice. But, if your engine choice plays a larger role in your final decision, the 2019 Ford Explorer has three very viable options.

Cargo Space

The inside of the GMC Acadia is shown with tan color seats.

Sport utility vehicles are rapidly becoming the family vehicles, replacing sedans, vans and station wagons of decades past. And why not? They have the room to make any trip comfortable, whether it be to the grocery store or a weekend excursion to the lake. And anyone that has kids knows it takes a lot of room to move them around. Toys and book bags take up much more space in a vehicle than they do in the house. So, if you are looking to make one of these SUVs your next family vehicle, you will need to know which offers more space.

The 2019 Ford Explorer has 21 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the third row of seats. The 2019 GMC Acadia falls well short, at only 12.8 cu.ft. When the third row is down, the numbers are much more comparable, with the Explorer barely edging out the Acadia at 43.9 cu.ft. to 41.7 cu.ft. When the second row is down, and you have the full cargo space to fill with whatever you need to lug around, the Explorer retains its edge in this vital category, offering 81.7 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to the Acadia’s 79 cubic feet. These numbers lie right around the average for this class, so you might consider the Acadia to be slightly below average.

While neither of these vehicles is cavernous when it comes to interior space, the 2019 Ford Explorer is the clear winner.


A black 2019 GMC Acadia is parked in front of a house.

Seeing as how SUVs are now popular as family vehicles, particular emphasis is being put on safety features and safety ratings. If you are using this SUV to cart your little ones around, you want to make sure you have the safest vehicle you can.

Two of the entities responsible for administering safety ratings are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Each year, the NHTSA and the IIHS conduct exhaustive tests on all vehicles and rate them according to their own standards.

The 2019 GMC Acadia scored five stars with the NHTSA, the highest rating they give. The 2019 Ford Explorer only scored four stars. The IIHS gave the Acadia an overall “Good” rating, which is also the highest they give. The Explorer scored “Good” in a few areas but got “Marginal” as their overall rating, which is the second highest the IIHS awards.

Some of the more unique safety features that the 2019 GMC Acadia offers that cannot be found on the 2019 Ford Explorer are the center airbag and the Child Reminder system. The center airbag is located in the center of the front dash and protects the front seat passengers from colliding into each other in the event of a violent collision. It can also prevent a driver from going into the passenger side of the vehicle if he is not wearing his seat belt. The Child Reminder system uses senses and memory to detect if there might be a child in the back seat. If the Acadia detects that there is, it will sound the alarm to remind a harried parent. This could potentially save lives, especially in extreme weather.

If safety is a priority for your next SUV, we would highly suggest giving the 2019 GMC Acadia a deeper look.

These two SUVs are remarkably similar, but also remarkable in their own rights. Each offers something the other doesn’t, which is the plight of every person researching modern vehicles. It may come down to something like brand loyalty or price. We cannot help you with brand loyalty, but we can tell you the MSRP for the 2019 GMC Acadia is $32,800, while the MSRP for the 2019 Ford Explorer runs to $32,365. Whichever direction you decide to go, either of these is a good choice. We sincerely hope you started out here because if you have looked at other comparable SUVs, you will undoubtedly know by now that these are two of the best around.