Ford Explorer Vs. GMC AcadiaEnlarge Photo
Both the Acadia and Explorer have safety scores and technology well in hand. The Acadia gets the top scores from both the NHTSA and the IIHS; the Explorer matches it with a Top Safety Pick, though it earns one star fewer than the GMC from the NHTSA. The Explorer has more high-tech safety options including rear-seat inflatable seat belts; the Acadia adds a front-center airbag for the 2013 model year.
For comfort and utility, it's a job well done by both. The Ford's front seats are shaped very well, with more bolstering than the base Acadia seats; both can be optioned up with leather, heating and ventilation. The Explorer's a bit shorter and taller than the Acadia, which gives it a little less leg room in its third-row seat. Neither makes it easy for adults to reach the third row. The Acadia also has about 30 more cubic feet of cargo space than the Explorer--the Ford Flex is a more direct competitor, really--but both offer fold-away third-row seats and second-row seats that move forward to make the interiors more flexible.
The Acadia's certainly a bigger, more useful ute for those who need space for lots of people and cargo. The Explorer asserts itself for those who want lots of choice in drivetrains, or want to reach for better fuel economy and more carlike handling. The Acadia comes in a sole drivetrain configuration with 288 horsepower and a six-speed automatic, with front- or all-wheel drive, topping out at about 24 mpg highway. The Explorer lineup starts with a 28-mpg-plus turbocharged four with a paddle-shifted automatic and front-wheel drive, and is topped off with a twin-turbo V-6 with 350 horsepower and all-wheel drive, teamed with a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic, basically an Explorer SHO in all but name. The Explorer's electric power steering is quick and zesty, while the Acadia's is slower and less responsive. And while the Acadia rides more smoothly on its long wheelbase, the Explorer's still pretty adept at damping its own body motions, while it still offers SUV-like traits, like adjustable traction modes for mild off-roading, wintry weather, sand, and mud. It's no Grand Cherokee, but it's no minivan.
In the past, the Acadia has focused more on tradition while Ford reached for future tech. That's changing, now that GMC's updating the Acadia for 2013 with more connectivity features, along with some mild styling changes. Come the new model year, you'll be able to plug in a mobile phone into the GMC and control it through a new iPad-like screen. On most versions of today's Explorer, virtually everything can be controlled by voice or steering-wheel buttons--including mobile streaming audio, voice-to-text capability, even in-car Twitter, all through an updated, clarified version of MyFord Touch.
Neither the Explorer nor the Acadia can rightly be called an SUV. That's a species destined for a Darwinian end in the very near future. One does a better job carrying people; the other carries them a little further into the future. And together, these are among the closest things we have to minivans without sliding side doors.
|2013 Ford Explorer||2013 GMC Acadia|
|The Ford Explorer trades some trail-riding and towing for on-road driving lessons, and comes out fluent.||The 2013 GMC Acadia's chiseled, rugged look masks a family-friendly cabin and smooth street performance.|
|Read moreThe latest Explorer neatly reimagines its heritage in modern lines and shapes; the interior's one of Ford's best yet.||Read moreThe 2013 GMC Acadia is the equivalent of a casual blazer: It's dressy, but it's also ready to get things done.|
|Read moreTurbo engines bracket the base V-6's straight-line acceleration; steering is very quick and carlike, and ride quality is good.||Read moreThe Acadia accelerates quickly enough, and it handles better than GMC's larger trucks, but it feels (and is) very heavy.|
|Read moreThird-row passengers will be least happy, but adults will find the Explorer's front seats very supportive.||Read moreRide quality and cabin materials have been improved for 2013, and the Acadia has three rows of useful seating.|
|Read moreThe Explorer earns top scores from the NHTSA and IIHS, and has a huge range of safety options and technology.||Read moreThe GMC Acadia is one of the safest picks in its class, and a new front center airbag and active-safety features step up its protection for 2013.|
|Read moreThe latest Explorer has some of the most sophisticated, and sometimes maddening, infotainment features of any vehicle on the road.||Read moreUpdated infotainment features are offered throughout the lineup, and GMC Acadia Denali models feel like they could have a luxury badge.|
|Read moreThe Explorer's turbo engines offset each other; the stock V-6 has gas mileage on par for the class.||Read moreEven considering its three-row seating capacity, the 2013 Acadia isn't particularly fuel-efficient.|
|from $29,100||from $34,050|
|from $27,427||from $32,347|
|Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway|
|Front Leg Room (in)|
|Second Leg Room (in)|
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