2019 GMC Acadia vs. 2019 Ford Explorer

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Acadia Denali’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Explorer doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the GMC Acadia’s middle seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Ford Explorer doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Acadia are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Explorer doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Acadia has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The Explorer doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

The Acadia (except SL/SLE) offers optional Forward Automatic Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Acadia Denali offers an optional Surround Vision System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Acadia and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the GMC Acadia is safer than the Ford Explorer:

 

Acadia

Explorer

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the GMC Acadia is safer than the Explorer:

 

Acadia

Explorer

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

13 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

19 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.2/.1 kN

3.7/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.59/.48

.87/.61

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the GMC Acadia is safer than the Ford Explorer:

 

Acadia

Explorer

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

155 G’s

159 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

17 inches

HIC

319

407

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

673 lbs.

909 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Acadia the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Explorer was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Acadia’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Explorer’s (6 vs. 5 years).

GMC pays for scheduled maintenance on the Acadia for 2 years and 24,000 miles. GMC will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance (up to 2 oil changes). Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Explorer.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Acadia V6 is faster than the Ford Explorer turbo 4 cyl.:

 

Acadia

Explorer

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.3 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.6 MPH

84.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Acadia gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:

 

 

Acadia

Explorer

 

2WD

2.5 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

21 city/26 hwy

19 city/27 hwy

2.3 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

 

3.6 V6/6-spd. Auto

18 city/25 hwy

17 city/24 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

4WD

2.5 4 cyl./6-spd. Auto

21 city/25 hwy

18 city/25 hwy

2.3 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

 

3.6 V6/6-spd. Auto

17 city/25 hwy

16 city/22 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Acadia 4 cyl.’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the GMC Acadia uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Explorer Sport/Platinum requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Acadia AWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Explorer (21.7 vs. 18.6 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the GMC Acadia higher (5 to 6 out of 10) than the Ford Explorer (3). This means the Acadia produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Explorer every 15,000 miles.

Tires and Wheels

The GMC Acadia’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Ford Explorer only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Acadia has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Explorer doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Acadia offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Explorer’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Acadia Denali AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Explorer Sport 4WD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Acadia SLT AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Explorer Limited 4WD (26.9 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Acadia’s turning circle is .2 feet tighter than the Explorer Base/XLT/Limited’s (38.7 feet vs. 38.9 feet). The Acadia’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the Explorer Sport’s (38.7 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

The GMC Acadia may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 500 pounds less than the Ford Explorer.

The Acadia is 5.1 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the Acadia easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Acadia uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Explorer doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Acadia Denali AWD is quieter than the Explorer Sport 4WD (68 vs. 70 dB).

Passenger Space

The Acadia has .2 inches more rear legroom, 2.2 inches more third row hip room and 3.5 inches more third row shoulder room than the Explorer.

Servicing Ease

The Acadia uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Explorer uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The Acadia’s optional front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches. The Explorer’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to lower them fully.

When the Acadia with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Explorer’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Acadia has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Explorer and isn’t available on the Explorer Base.

The Acadia’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Explorer Base doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Acadia is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because typical repairs cost much less on the Acadia than the Explorer, including $19 less for a water pump and $208 less for a muffler.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the GMC Acadia will be $4185 to $4493 less than for the Ford Explorer.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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