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A black 2019 GMC Acadia All Terrain in front of an upscale home

Bang for Your Buck: GMC Acadia or Buick Enclave?

Choosing the right mid-size SUV can be difficult. There is no shortage of models available from different manufacturers, each with their own quirks, perks, and different features available. You might feel like it’s as easy as typing something like “2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Buick Enclave” into a search engine, reading the first suggestion that pops up, and calling it a day. In reality, however, it’s best to take a little extra time, look at all your options, and weigh the advantages and drawbacks of some specific models against each other.

Take the aforementioned GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, for example. They are both mid-size SUVs that seat up to 7 people and give you solid towing capacity for pulling a camper or trailer behind you. But they start at very different initial prices – so comparing them directly to each other is not necessarily as simple as it might initially seem. Assuming the 2019 Buick Enclave is in your price range, there are some major upgrades you could pack into the 2019 GMC Acadia to make it even better. Figuring out which is best for you can seem daunting at first, but I’m here to make it (a little) easier.

Starting Price and Features

A lot of times you might find articles or breakdowns online comparing two vehicles to each other, touting the options and benefits of one over the other. The problem is that all-too-often these kinds of comparisons fail to mention something very important: the price tag associated with each vehicle and the amazing options being thrown around. Just about any vehicle can be made to look better than any other if you take one that’s fully loaded and compare it to the starting configuration of another.

So let’s begin at the starting point for the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Buick Enclave. The starting MSRP for the Acadia is just $29,000, which is pretty good for a mid-size SUV with the kinds of features the Acadia has to offer. And what sorts of things do you get for that price tag? Well the starting build includes a 2.5L engine, 7-inch Infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 6-speaker sound system, and a 3-inch monochromatic driver information screen.

By comparison, the starting Buick Enclave has a 3.6L engine, and 8-inch Infotainment center with a 6-speaker sound system. It has a 4-inch color driver information system, steering wheel controls for audio, cruise control, and phone, as well as tri-zone climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. There are other features as well, but overall the starting Buick Enclave is clearly superior to the GMC Acadia – but here’s the catch: the Enclave starts at $40,000 MSRP. For more than $7,000 more, you would hope it has more to offer.

Stepping Things Up

In order to really compare the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Buick Enclave, it is important to look beyond just their starting options and see how they compare at similar price points. When looking at vehicles, these different upgrades are referred to as trim levels and they are indicated in different ways by different manufacturers. Trim levels typically build upon each other, so you get more improvements and options the higher you go.

While certain trim levels might have unique names, there are some names common to a particular manufacturer, which usually indicates a starting or pinnacle design. For example, many different GMC models have a starting model indicated as “SL” while the best model you can get is noted as the “Denali” model. Similarly, the “Avenir” trim level is the best of the best when it comes to Buicks – in fact, only a few different models are actually available with an Avenir trim choice.

Acadia Trim Levels and Prices

sits victorious in the 2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Buick Enclave

So now, let’s take a quick look at some of the features you can get if you step up to higher trim levels with the 2019 GMC Acadia. The SLE-1 trim level has the standard options of the Acadia but also includes LED daytime running lamps, carpeted floor mats, and SiriusXM Radio support. These improvements only increase the MSRP to about $34,000.

From there, you can step up to the SLE-2 trim level, which includes a programmable power liftgate, heated front passenger and driver seats, and an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat. This takes the price up to just over $36,000, but you can see we’re still nowhere near the starting price of the Buick Enclave.

To get there, you have to look at the 2019 GMC Acadia SLT-1 trim level, which builds upon the SLE-2 and includes an 8-way power seat for the passenger, perforated leather-appointed first and second-row seats, 120V power outlet, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. In fact, at this trim level you get a 4-inch color driver information screen, heated driver and passenger seats, and an 8-speaker Bose premium audio system. All of this comes with an MSRP of just over $39,000 – pretty comparable to the price tag on the starting Buick Enclave, though it still has a 2.5L engine.

If you have a robust budget, then you can go all in for the 2019 GMC Acadia Denali, which features a 3.6L engine, a full trailering package with hitch, and 8-inch Infotainment system with Navigation. The Denali has all the bells and whistles including the Bose premium sound system, heated rear seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, and driver seat and mirror memory settings. Of course, the Denali also has the full suite of GMC safety features and it all comes in at a starting MSRP of about $46,700.

Enclave Trim Levels and Prices

Although the 2019 Buick Enclave Preferred is the standard model, you can step that up to the Essence, which has leather-appointed first and second row seats, and additional safety features like lane change alert and rear cross traffic alert. This trim level starts at just over $43,000 so it sits somewhere between the 2019 GMC Acadia SLE-2 and the Denali.

Next up is the Premium trim level, which includes a Bose 10-speaker premium sound system, automatic heated front seats and steering wheel, and ventilated front-passenger and driver seats. The Premium also has more safety features including forward collision alert and comes in at just under $50,000. So you can see, in terms of price it costs more than the highest trim level of the Acadia, but also includes features you cannot find on the Acadia – like a better sound system.

For the ultimate level of luxury, there is the 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir, which has a unique grille and exterior features much like the Denali does. The Avenir also includes a rear camera mirror and surround vision safety feature that you cannot get with the Acadia. Plus it features a dual power moonroof and wireless charging pad for compatible devices. Of course, this all starts off at nearly $55,000 so comparing it to any build of the GMC Acadia is pointless.

The Bottom Line

So what does all this mean? It means that when you’re looking at different models, like these two mid-size SUVs, it’s important to consider different trim levels and what your budget will allow. A brand like Buick is known for luxury features, so not only will it start off more expensive, but it also has a lot more to offer and focuses primarily on packing in those types of features. Your money might stretch more if you are interested in a 2019 GMC Acadia, but you won’t find everything you could get in a 2019 Buick Enclave, even at comparable price points.

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