2019 GMC Acadia vs. 2019 Ford Flex

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 Flex 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 Flex 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 Flex 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 Flex 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 Flex offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Acadia SLE/SLT’s optional Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Flex doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The GMC Acadia has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Flex doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Acadia (except SL/SLE)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Flex doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

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

Both the Acadia and the Flex 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, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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 Flex:

 

Acadia

Flex

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

11 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

19 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.2/.1 kN

2.8/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

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 Flex was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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

GMC pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Acadia. GMC will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Ford doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Flex.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Acadia has a standard 660-amp battery. The Flex’s 650-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The Acadia’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 23 more horsepower (310 vs. 287) and 17 lbs.-ft. more torque (271 vs. 254) than the Flex’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the GMC Acadia V6 is faster than the Flex Limited 3.5 turbo V6:

 

Acadia

Flex

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

6.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

6.5 sec

Top Speed

131 MPH

121 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Acadia AWD V6 gets better fuel mileage than the Flex AWD with its standard V6 (17 city/25 hwy vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

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 Flex 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 Flex Limited 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 Flex (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 Flex (3). This means the Acadia produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Flex every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

The Acadia stops much shorter than the Flex:

 

Acadia

Flex

 

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

192 feet

Car and Driver

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 Flex 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 Flex 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 Flex’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Acadia Denali AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Flex SEL AWD pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Acadia’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Flex’s (38.7 feet vs. 40.7 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 Flex.

The Acadia is 8.2 inches shorter than the Flex, making the Acadia easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the Acadia FWD 4 cyl. uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Flex doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

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

Passenger Space

The Acadia has .2 inches more front hip room, 1 inch more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.8 inches more third row hip room and 3.5 inches more third row shoulder room than the Flex.

Cargo Capacity

The Acadia’s cargo area is larger than the Flex’s in almost every dimension:

 

Acadia

Flex

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

18.5”/48”/83”

16.5”/47”/83.3”

Max Width

50”

46”

Min Width

42.5”

40.5”

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Acadia Denali’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Flex doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

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

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Acadia (except SL/SLE) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Flex doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

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 Flex’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Acadia SLT/Denali has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Flex has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 is only available on the Flex SEL/Limited.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Acadia is less expensive to operate than the Flex because typical repairs cost much less on the Acadia than the Flex, including $55 less for a water pump, $345 less for a muffler and $8 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The GMC Acadia outsold the Ford Flex by over four to one during 2018.

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

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