General Motors has dominated the mid-size crossovers and SUV market with their in-demand lineup from both Chevrolet and GMC. The popular brands’ full line of vehicles are iconic household names that many drivers have come to rely on for high performance and reliability. Considering the two iconic brands operate under the same umbrella company, many of their vehicles share similarities making purchasing one or the other a difficult process. Take as an example the 2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Chevy Traverse; both vehicles still sit on the same basic frame and share mechanical components. Even their base model MSRP are practically the same at $30,195 and $29,930 respectably. To make matters worse, the market has also seen a drastic influx in production of Mid-Size SUV vehicles. With a market already saturated with SUVs, how can any everyday drivers choose between vehicles offered by the same parent company?
Rest easy, we’ve done the research and compared the stats, so you can effortlessly discern which SUV best suits your lifestyle needs. And we might as well start with the most similar mid-size crossover SUV’s offered by either brand, the seemingly two sides of the same coin GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse.
Two years ago GMC made the smart decision to slim down the Acadia instead of gearing up and subsequently taking on more weight. The decrease in size and weight enables the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder base model engine to perform with increased efficiency while promoting increased fuel economy. The smaller 193 horsepower, 188 lb-ft of torque engine comes standard on all lower trim level models (SL, SLE, SLT), but a 3.6-Liter V-6 capable of 310 horsepower is standard on the premium, upper trim levels and optionable for variant mid-grade levels (SLE2, SLT2). With the V-6 engine, the Acadia is a beast accelerating from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds all the while handling smoothly no matter the road conditions. Both of the engines are equipped with a six-speed transmission, and you can get all-wheel drive on all Acadias except the base SL.
As for Chevy, they are a little late to the options game having completely redesigned the Traverse in 2018. Up until last year, the Chevy Traverse was only offered with the V-6 lowering potential fuel economy as well as increasing the price tag of even their base model trim levels. A four-cylinder turbocharged engine is now being offered but only for the sporty and pricier ($41,000) RS trim. Combined with a nine-speed transmission, the engine performs comparably similar to the Acadia with 310 horsepower, but the much larger Traverse is slow to start and even drags more than usual in an SUV in hilly terrain. You may even find yourself reaching the floor with the pedal on steeper hills due to an unnecessary and mostly unwanted fuel economy standard that favors higher gears. Given the Traverse’s slightly below average acceleration of 0-60 mph in over 7 seconds, the Traverse may not be the ideal choice for city driving with all the stop and start traffic and potential slow to gain speed for on-ramps. The hefty size, though, lets other drivers know your there and is perfect for leisurely cruising.
Comfort is the most coveted asset sought by any mid-size SUV; to have the power and utility of a larger vehicle with the quiet and comforting smooth ride of a sedan. And it is no different with the Acadia and Traverse. The Acadia opts for a minimalist design on the interior which provides an immediate sense of familiar comfort with its’ ease of use. The entire experience from seating to road noise is ideal for both highway and city driving. The suspension absorbs most road irregularities providing an overall smooth ride while the road and engine noise are kept to a minimum. The Acadia is sealed well, so that the only noises you will be hearing, are the sounds from inside the cabin. The seating itself is soft adding cushion and adequate lumbar support for longer trips. Although the third-row seat is tighter than previous generations, it still provides enough room for the rare occasion you are transporting more than 7 people.
Available seating is one area where the Traverse may best its’ cousin crossover. The Traverse, being larger in stature, has comfortable seating throughout the vehicle, including the forgotten third row. Average adults will find more than adequate legroom whether they are riding shotgun or sitting at the back of this SUV. However, with size comes decreased control and handling on city roads. With what some may consider a larger size it could be suggested that the Traverse is not made for tight city driving and is more suited to the highways. While the handling is smooth, and the suspension absorbs most of the shock from road debris, but the road noise from outside is increasingly audible as you accelerate to higher speeds. From the roomy interior, wind and road noise combined with the roaring V-6 engine are more than audible making for uncomfortable road trips because of increased shouting while attempting conversation and even louder radio volumes to drown the noise out.
Although both mid-size crossover SUV’s were recently redesigned, only the Acadia looks and feels like a modern vehicle. The Acadia’s sharper, angular appearance adds just the right amount of style without showing off. Perfect for car-pooling the kids to soccer practice or valeting on date night. The Traverse generally opts for utility and space, so this large SUV is no show pony. Some softer curves were recently added to round out the Traverse’s boxy design; the rectangular shape does add presence, but the overall feel of the vehicle is misplaced as if its competitors were actually full-size SUV and not the mid-size crossovers. Carpooling aside, the Traverse is built for utility and shipping human bodies comfortably. Car-pooling? Yes; but you definitely will not be valeting this beast at any fancy restaurant.
The Chevy Traverse takes the prize in this category as it should given the vehicle’s size which emphasizes utility over design appeal. The Traverse has the cargo capacity has 23 cu. ft. of room for storage before you fold down the third-row seating. The cargo capacity may exceed the Acadia’s (79 cubic feet to Traverse’s 98.2 cubic feet) but they have similar room saving features like a slide shifting second-row seat and frame in-laid, hidden cubby holes in the rear and throughout both vehicles.
On the tech front, both vehicles offer up the latest in-car tech including Wi-Fi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto play, as well as similar modern day safety systems like lane change and crash detection alerts. The Acadia may benefit from its touchscreen system is one of the easiest to use, but the Traverse also has a touchscreen infotainment system that is equal in measure and will not take much longer to learn.
The Upper Echelon: DENALI Versus…
The Acadia also comes as an optional Denali model, GMC’s in house luxury line of vehicles. With a $45,000 base MSRP, the Acadia Denali is a luxury vehicle from interior to exterior that is more than competitive with some SUV brands basic package in price and style. From the exterior, the Denali has its own distinctive lighting made from high-intensity discharge projector-beam headlamps that let people know at any distance that you are showing up in style. On the interior, the devil is in the details of this luxury brand vehicle; quality craftsmanship is on display with genuine wood trim paneling throughout the cabin as well as warm-toned burnished aluminum and premium soft-touch materials. Added creature comforts like heated and ventilated seats throughout the crossover vehicle are also a welcome treat for all passengers no matter where they sit.
Chevy has a sporty Redline addition, but even at the Premium trim model, the Chevy Traverse can hardly compete on a luxury standpoint. The High Country is a specialty, luxury trim made available for the Traverse but at a hefty price tag, starting MSRP of over $50,000.
As expected, the GM cousin crossover’s hold on to a striking amount of similarities from engine type to technology features. The significant difference between the two vehicles comes down to size and visual appeal, both of which affect the entire driving experience. The Traverse’ larger frame makes it unwieldy for city driving and slow to accelerate from on-ramp to highway, the ideal roadway for the vehicle; however, its’ size does allow for more comfortable seating for 8 as well as increased cargo capacity. For us, the decision comes down to how often you think you’ll use that 3rd row of seating; if you are anything like us, that seating would only be used on short trips and emergency transportation situations. So if size is simply a “just in case scenario” issue, then the 2019 GMC Acadia more than matches up to the 2019 Chevy Traverse and even exceeds expectations with option available variety all at a much lower price point.