2019 GMC Acadia vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander

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 Highlander 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 Toyota Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Compared to metal, the Acadia’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.

Both the Acadia and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors 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 Toyota Highlander:

 

Acadia

Highlander

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

138

195

Neck Injury Risk

22%

47%

Neck Stress

162 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

16 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

112/392 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

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

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 Toyota Highlander:

 

Acadia

Highlander

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

253 lbs.

348 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

16 inches

HIC

319

372

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

673 lbs.

829 lbs.

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

Warranty

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

There are over 38 percent more GMC dealers than there are Toyota dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Acadia’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Acadia has a standard 660-amp battery. The Highlander’s 604-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The Acadia’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 8 more horsepower (193 vs. 185) and 4 lbs.-ft. more torque (188 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The Acadia’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 15 more horsepower (310 vs. 295) and 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (271 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Acadia V6 is faster than the Toyota Highlander V6:

 

Acadia

Highlander

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.3 sec

15.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Acadia FWD 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Highlander FWD 4 cyl. (21 city/26 hwy vs. 20 city/24 hwy).

The Acadia AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander (21.7 vs. 19.2 gallons).

The Acadia has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Acadia’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

The Acadia stops much shorter than the Highlander:

 

Acadia

Highlander

 

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

126 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Acadia’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (255/65R17 vs. 245/60R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Acadia offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The GMC Acadia’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Toyota Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Acadia has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Acadia’s wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than on the Highlander (112.5 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

The Acadia Denali AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Highlander AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Acadia SLT AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Highlander LE (26.9 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

Chassis

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 Highlander 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 Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Acadia has .1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear legroom, 1.3 inches more third row headroom and 3.4 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander.

The front step up height for the Acadia is 1.3 inches lower than the Highlander (18” vs. 19.3”). The Acadia’s rear step up height is .5 inches lower than the Highlander’s (19” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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

 

Acadia

Highlander

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

18.5”/48”/83”

17.5”/43”/80”

Height

33”

32.6”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Acadia’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

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 Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The Acadia uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander 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.

The Acadia has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Highlander doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The Acadia offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Acadia (except SL/SLE)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Acadia and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Acadia is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Acadia’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Highlander’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 Highlander offers 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 costs extra on the Highlander.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Acadia is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Acadia than the Highlander, including $117 less for a starter, $141 less for fuel injection, $55 less for a fuel pump and $595 less for a timing belt/chain.

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

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