Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A black 2021 GMC Acadia drives down a two way road after winning a 2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee comparison.

2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The class of midsize SUVs has many different vehicles in its lineup, with nearly every manufacturer represented through the years. Despite the similarities between them all, they all have their differences, making some a better value or better able to meet your needs. The 2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee are two popular midsize SUVs to compare to one another. Their differences are numerous and clearly set one above the other in a side-by-side comparison. But determining which of the pair is a better choice will depend on what you need out of your vehicle.

Though these two SUVs are both rated as midsize models, their dimensions are wildly different, as are their gas mileage ratings. These vehicles, though they belong in the same class, are worlds apart from one another when they are compared side by side. One is cheaper, offers more seating, and has better safety features at the base level. It is possible that being classified as midsize SUVs is the only comparison they share once everything is examined in detail. The 2021 GMC Acadia and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee are interesting to compare side by side, though their similarities appear to be less than their differences.

A grey 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is parked at the base of a mountain.

Under the Hood: Power and Ability

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has two rows of seating with room for five, which is a distinct drawback for those who need more space. The standard engine in the Grand Cherokee is an older V6 that offers 290 horsepower, though there are a variety of V8 options if you want more power. The most common 5.7L V8 provides 360 horsepower, but that comes at the cost of a fuel economy of just 17 MPG combined.

On the outside, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has slim LED headlights and a smaller front grille. This can make it look like more of a common SUV rather than a tough and strong Jeep. Though it is reported to have top-of-the-class towing ability, it certainly doesn’t look the part. Finally, the Grand Cherokee is expensive, with its starting trim coming in at $34,645 and the pricing increasing to an incredible $88,365 for the top trim Trackhawk.

In comparison, the 2021 GMC Acadia has a third row included as standard, unlike the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. This increases the available space for cargo as well as passengers, giving you up to 79 cubic feet of room for anything that you may need to move. The Acadia has three engines available. The first is a 2.5L four-cylinder with 193 horsepower. Another is a 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower, and the third is a 2.0L liter turbo with 230 horsepower. The towing capacity is not as high for the Acadia, though the vehicle is forgiving and stable if not driven in an overly aggressive manner.

The GMC Acadia has a fuller front grille and larger headlights, balancing out the boxiness of the SUV’s front and giving the whole vehicle a more consistent look overall. The price of the Acadia is also much more affordable, starting at under $30,000. Even the top-trim Acadia Denali can be had for just $46,300, which is nearly half of what the top-trim Grand Cherokee goes for.

The 2021 GMC Acadia has a fuel efficiency rating of 23 MPG combined with the base level 2.5L engine, putting it far ahead of the Grand Cherokee. However, that is not even the most efficient option. The turbocharged engine with front-wheel drive is rated at an exceptional 25 MPG combined while still providing plenty of horsepower and torque. These numbers are far higher than what the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated for, allowing you to save time and money at the gas pump.

Interior Comfort and Style

Comparing the 2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee gets even easier when looking at their interiors. The Cherokee takes a bit hit early with its lack of third-row seating. This seriously limits the space available in the vehicle. The interior is a decent mix of soft-touch materials and leather in the higher trims, but this is not kept consistent throughout, and many surfaces are hard plastic. For a vehicle with a high price tag, the level of comfort is underwhelming.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee also fared badly in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash testing, being given the worst possible rating when it came to the small overlap passenger test and not doing much better on the driver side. There are plenty of advanced driver assistance features advertised, but very few of them come standard beyond the legally mandated backup camera. Tech shortfalls continue when it comes to entertainment, as a six-speaker acoustic system and five-inch touchscreen are standard, with upgrades only available on higher trim levels.

The 2021 GMC Acadia has intuitive controls placed in easy reach of the driver. Various trim levels feature different materials, with soft-touch fabric, leather, premium cloth seating, and real aluminum trim all featured as options. Tri-zone climate control even comes standard on all trim levels, ensuring comfort for passengers in every seat. A dual opening sunroof is an additional feature that can be optioned to let in sunlight or allow stargazing at night. It opens over the front seat as well as the second row with two different panes.

The Acadia has a large pass-through under console storage area included along with additional storage under the floor of the large cargo area with the second and third rows folded down. The infotainment system features an eight-inch touchscreen as well as a heads-up display on the windshield to highlight important information like current speed or navigation directions. A Bose premium eight-speaker system is offered on many trims, providing better quality sound than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all standard features, as well as a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot that allows up to seven mobile devices can be connected at once.

The front of a white 2021 GMC Acadia is shown parked in a dirt clearing.

2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee: The Easy Choice

Whether buyers are comparing passenger space, cargo storage, safety, or infotainment, it is still a simple task to look at the 2021 GMC Acadia vs the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. These vehicles are, in many ways, as different as night and day, despite being in the same class. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a higher price, less available space, and more hard plastics in the interior. It offers higher towing capacity but has lower fuel efficiency and inferior safety.

The 2021 GMC Acadia is more affordable, with more space offered through the inclusion of a third row of seats. The infotainment system offers a larger screen standard and more speakers with the added benefit of an available heads up display for the driver. Though the towing capacity is lower, the 2021 GMC Acadia has more efficient engines than the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, with much better gas mileage overall. The Acadia better looks its role, with a large front grille and bigger headlights. Whether outside or inside, when comparing the 2021 GMC Acadia vs 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2021 GMC Acadia comes out on top every time.