2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2020 GMC Acadia

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and Acadia have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Acadia’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Acadia doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Acadia doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Explorer’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Acadia doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Explorer and the Acadia have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

The Explorer’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Acadia’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are over 75 percent more Ford dealers than there are GMC dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Acadia doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than GMC vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, GMC is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than GMC vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, GMC is ranked 22nd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than GMC vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 7 places higher in reliability than GMC.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Acadia:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

Acadia 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

193 HP

188 lbs.-ft.

Acadia 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

230 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

Acadia 3.6 DOHC V6

310 HP

271 lbs.-ft.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the Acadia.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Acadia:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

Acadia

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

12.4 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Acadia (255/65R18 vs. 235/65R18). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Acadia (275/45R21 vs. 255/65R17).

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Acadia’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Acadia. The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the Acadia.

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The Acadia doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Acadia doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 6.6 inches longer than on the Acadia (119.1 inches vs. 112.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Acadia.

For greater off-road capability the Explorer has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Acadia (7.9 vs. 7.2 inches), allowing the Explorer to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Explorer’s minimum ground clearance is .1 inch higher than on the Acadia All Terrain (7.9 vs. 7.8 inches).

Passenger Space

The Explorer has 8.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Acadia (152.7 vs. 143.8).

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Acadia.

Explorer

Acadia

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

12.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

41.7 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

79 cubic feet

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

Explorer

Acadia AT4

Acadia

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

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

n.a./48”/83”

18.5”/48”/83”

Max Width

59”

50”

50”

Min Width

48.1”

42.5”

42.5”

Height

33.7”

33”

33”

Both the Explorer and the Acadia have standard second row automatic folding seats. The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s third row seats also fold up or down at the press of a button. The Acadia doesn’t offer automatic folding third row seats.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Explorer. The Acadia doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

The Explorer’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Acadia’s (3000 vs. 1000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the GMC Acadia is only 4000 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Explorer is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Acadia. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Explorer’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Acadia’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

On a hot day the Explorer’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Acadia can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The Acadia doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Acadia’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Explorer Platinum has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Acadia doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Explorer ST/Platinum’s Active Park Assist 2.0 can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Acadia doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the GMC Acadia by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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