In the realm of mid-size SUVs, there are a lot of options to choose from – some could even argue too many options. When you have so many choices available, it can be hard to figure out where to start as you look from one to another and try to compare dozens of different specs and features. I find it helpful to narrow things down and just look at two different vehicles and see how they compare. For example, consider the 2019 Ford Explorer vs 2019 GMC Acadia and let’s see who comes out on top.
In many ways, the 2019 Ford Explorer is pretty similar to the 2019 GMC Acadia: they are both comparable in size and provide room for the same number of passengers. These similarities end pretty quickly, however, as you start to look at the details and features of these two SUVs. For example, the Explorer has much more powerful engines available, which gives it a far higher towing capacity than the Acadia could hope for.
We’ll go point by point on some topics so you can see how they compare, but I’m going to ruin the ending right now: the 2019 Ford Explorer comes out on top. But you should keep reading to see for yourself…
Reason #1: The Engines
I like SUVs with some muscle – I mean, these are big, heavy vehicles that require a lot of power to push uphill or just drive across town. While a mid-size SUV might not need the kind of horsepower or torque that a full-size model requires, you should still expect it to offer impressive performance. That largely comes down to the engine in the SUV, and this is one area where the 2019 Ford Explorer clearly comes out on top (probably because it has the torque to get up there).
The 2019 GMC Acadia has two different engines available. The starting option is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that provides up to 193hp and 188 lb.-ft. of torque, which is pretty weak for a mid-size SUV. Fortunately, there is an available 3.6L V6 engine that steps that up significantly to 310hp and 271 lb.-ft. of torque, which is much more respectable for this class of vehicle. However, the Ford Explorer still wins out…
You see, the 2019 Ford Explorer has three engines available, and that third option makes all the difference. The starting engine in the Explorer is a 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 engine that provides up to 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque – compared to the starting engine in the Acadia, there really is no comparison; this one blows it away. From there you can upgrade to a 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine that offers up to 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque – that’s a bit less horsepower but more torque for better oomph. Finally, the Explorer has an available 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine that gives you up to 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
When you look at the most powerful engines in each of these vehicles, you see the 2019 Ford Explorer can get more than 50 additional horsepower and about 80 lb-ft of torque. If you need to get up a steep incline or you want to haul something behind you, that’s going to make a difference. Speaking of towing something behind these two SUVs…
Reason #2: Towing Capacity and Cargo Space
While towing capacity with an SUV might not be quite as important as it is with something like a full-size pickup truck, it’s still worth considering. A mid-size SUV should be able to handle a decent amount of weight behind it. You might not be able to haul a speed boat behind you, but a small trailer or camper (even a light-weight boat) should be a reasonable feat.
As you might expect, the less powerful engine in the GMC Acadia makes quite a difference here. The Acadia has a maximum towing capacity of up to 4,000 lbs. That’s fine – but it falls short when you consider that the more powerful engine of the 2019 Ford Explorer gives it a maximum towing capacity, when properly equipped, of 5,000 LBS. A thousand pounds is a pretty major difference – that’s 25% more weight you can haul behind the Explorer compared to the Acadia.
The 2019 Ford Explorer also has a bit more room inside for cargo compared to the 2019 GMC Acadia. The Explorer has more than 81 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind its first row, compared to the Acadia which has room for 79 cu.ft. of cargo. To be fair, that’s a pretty minor difference – certainly not as huge as the difference in towing capacity – but it could matter if you really need to load up your SUV.
Reason #3: Interior Features and Options
Alright, so Ford and GMC might not be the first names in American luxury vehicles, compared to brands like Buick or Cadillac. However, you still expect their vehicles to have a lot of sophisticated options and impressive features inside. So let’s see what these two SUVs offer.
The 2019 Ford Explorer has an available air filtration system with dual-zone automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a Sony 12-speaker sound system. There are numerous 12V power points for device charging, available adaptive cruise control, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in controls. There is an available front view camera and twin-panel moonroof, plus ambient lighting for a truly luxurious experience.
By comparison, the 2019 GMC Acadia has available tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an 8-speaker sound system. There are several power outlets, with available adaptive cruise control, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls. It lacks the front-vision camera, but there is a twin-panel sunroof available at higher trim levels.
Ultimately, the insides are pretty comparable, but the Ford Explorer just has a bit more to offer.
Reason #4: Safety Features
Safety features are always important when comparing vehicles – not only what things come standard but also what’s available. The good news is that both of these SUVs have robust safety packages, particularly if you spring for some upgrades and options.
The 2019 Ford Explorer includes traction control, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, and industry-first inflatable rear outboard safety belts. Available features include a forward sensing system, reverse sensing system, and a washer on the rearview camera. Additional options include lane departure warning with lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and enhanced active park assist with pull out and perpendicular park assist.
By comparison, the 2019 GMC Acadia features available low-speed automatic braking, a robust airbag system, and a rear vision camera. Available features include front and rear park assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and a forward collision alert. Other options include available front pedestrian braking, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, and an available rear cross-traffic alert. These are great features, but the vast majority of them are available options that cost more, rather than standard.
Ford Explorer – The Total Package
Ultimately, in a lot of meaningful ways, the 2019 Ford Explorer simply pulls ahead of the 2019 GMC Acadia and proves itself the superior option. While its interior details and safety features are impressive, the engines and performance are arguably the biggest distinguishing factors in this comparison. The Acadia’s engines simply cannot compete with the power that the Explorer has to offer, and this translates into much greater towing capacity from Ford.