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2021 Ford Explorer vs GMC Acadia

2021 Ford Explorer vs GMC Acadia

2021 Explorer vs Acadia - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

The 21st century has seen a surge in demand for the ever-versatile midsize SUV, with Ford and GMC vying to meet this market head on. The 2021 Explorer and Acadia have answered the call, offering families just the right combination of size, power, and comfort that make them an ideal choice without being too cumbersome or hard to handle. Going by current trends there's no sign these models will be losing their appeal any time soon!

Ford has added a touch of luxury to their 2021 Explorer with heated seats on the XLT model. Drivers looking for an aggressive look without compromising performance can opt into the new Sport Appearance Package, but those seeking real power should turn to the ST model.

The GMC Acadia has just stepped up its game for families everywhere, offering the Pro Safety Plus package on several trim levels. For those seeking an even more luxurious experience, they can choose to upgrade with a new Elevation Edition which adds flashy 20-inch black wheels and stylish exterior accents. Additionally, there is now a Technology Package available that provides drivers with total confidence behind the wheel by way of 360-degree cameras and head-up displays!

Deciding between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the GMC Acadia? With both models providing three rows of seating, these are great options for any family. But with a few new upgrades to each vehicle this year, it can be difficult to determine which one provides better overall value - get all your questions answered in our comprehensive guide!


The Powertrain

The 2021 Explorer offers plenty of power for a vehicle its size with two robust engine options to choose from. The majority trim levels boast an impressive 300-horsepower turbo 2.3L four-cylinder, while the ST and Platinum take it up a notch by providing 400 horses in the form of a turbo 3.0L V6 that also delivers 415 lb.-ft. of torque as well! All this comes backed by standard ten speed auto transmission and rear wheel drive (all wheel optional too).

The GMC Acadia is not as powerful in 2021. Its standard engine is a 2.5L four-cylinder that makes just 193-horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque. The SLT model upgrades to a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder that can make 228-horsepower along with 258 lb-ft of torque. For the most power possible, buyers will need to find a model with the 3.6L V6. It makes 310-horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard, with all-wheel drive available.

The GMC Acadia offers an array of engine options that provide energized and satisfying performance. Despite the base model's adequate capabilities, the two optional engines can really bring this SUV to life - yet still remain much lighter than its competitor, the Ford Explorer. Don't be fooled by horsepower stats alone; when it comes down to driving experience, you might just feel like a nimble racer in your new Acadia!

The 2021 Explorer offers drivers a reliable option for making the most of their fuel tank. In particular, outfitted with its standard setup, it will get you an impressive 21mpg around town and up to 28mpg on those trips along the highway. Though opting for the V6 does slightly reduce your mpg potential, even then this powerful SUV can still offer 18 in city driving and 26 when back on familiar roads - giving plenty of zip without compromising efficiency!

Despite it being less powerful, the base Acadia engine falls a bit short of what the Explorer can offer in the fuel economy department. Front-wheel-drive models with the four-cylinder get 21mpg city and 27mpg highway. The turbocharged option is estimated to get 22mpg city and 29mpg highway, while the V6 gets 19mpg city and 27mpg highway. Ultimately, both the Explorer and Acadia beat several other rivals when it comes to efficiency.

If towing is a concern, the Explorer is the winner. When it is properly equipped, this midsize SUV can bring along up to 5,600 pounds. At the same time, the 2021 Acadia tops out at just 4,000 pounds.

When evaluated by J.D. Power, the Explorer was predicted to be more reliable. It received a score of three out of five, which is average. The Acadia did slightly worse, receiving only 2.5 out of five. The warranty coverage does not differ between these two SUVs, with both getting the three-year or 36,000-mile limited and five-year or 60,000-mile powertrain coverage.


Drivers get plenty of options with the 2021 Explorer and Acadia, but when it comes to in-vehicle experience, one stands out. The athletic choice is definitely the Acadia - its suspension smooths over rough roads effortlessly while tight spaces are a breeze for this vehicle to maneuver through. Meanwhile, although not as agile as its counterpart, the Explorer offers reliable steering that keeps drivers firmly in control during each journey.

Either the 2021 Explorer or 2021 Acadia will offer seating for seven. They both can swap out the second-row bench seat for captain's chairs, effectively reducing their seating capacity to six. The Acadia AT4 trim level actually only has two rows of seating, meaning it has room for five.

Both the Explorer and Acadia offer spacious and supportive front seats. The Acadia has more room for stretching out in the second row. When it comes to the third row, both of these midsize SUVs are lacking in space. This is not unusual for midsize SUVs who are trying to squeeze in that third row.

The Explorer has more cargo space, making it the more practical option. There are 18.2 cubic feet in the very back, 47.9 cubic feet behind the second row, and it tops out at 87.8 cubic feet with the back rows down. These numbers beat out many competitors.

As for the Acadia, it has only 12.8 cubic feet behind its third row. This is due to it being significantly shorter than the Explorer, which adds to maneuverability but may detract from practicality. Behind the second row, there are 41.7 cubic feet. The maximum cargo capacity is 79 cubic feet.

The Explorer and Acadia provide comfy cabins that keep passengers comfortable with tri-zone automatic climate control, while the former offers a power-adjustable driver's seat on all trim levels—the perfect combination of convenience and relaxation. Despite their attributes, however, these SUVs lack an upscale feel due to too many plastic pieces in the cabin.

When it comes to infotainment and connectivity, these two SUVs have similar standard features. They both have an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Explorer comes standard with four USB ports, while the Acadia gives families at least five. Both of these vehicles also have six-speaker audio systems and satellite radio on all models. Either infotainment system will be easy for drivers to learn.

Staying connected and entertained on the road is easy with both the 2021 Explorer and Acadia. The Acadia offers a quality Bose sound system to provide an immersive music experience, while the Explorer puts you in control of your entertainment through its 10.1-inch touchscreen display and Bang & Olufsen's 14-speaker surround audio setup. Additionally, advanced wireless charging options make powering up effortless!

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


The test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the 2021 Explorer and 2021 Acadia are identical. These midsize SUVs both got an overall score of five out of five. A five-star rating was also given in frontal and side collision testing. Four stars were given to both midsize SUVs in rollover testing.

When it comes to standard driver assistance features, the Explorer is the more generous of the two. The Acadia comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, a rear-seat reminder, and a rearview camera. Meanwhile, the Explorer loses the rear parking sensors and rear-seat reminder. Instead, it gains lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, driver drowsiness monitoring, forward-collision warning, and forward automatic emergency braking.

The Acadia allows you to drive with peace of mind, thanks to its suite of driver-assist technologies. Innovations like lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning are included for your safety; plus an array of features such as a rear camera mirror, head up display, surround view system and adaptive cruise control make each trip in the SUV comfortable too. Add that extra layer by opting into the optional vibrating Safety Alert Seat—it's sure to provide priceless assurance on every journey!

As for the Explorer, it also offers adaptive cruise control and a surround-view parking camera system. Evasive steering assist, reverse brake assist, and traffic sign recognition are also available. Finally, the Explorer offers a sophisticated perpendicular and parallel parking assist system is available.

Which Has the Best Value?

The 2021 Ford Explorer is the more expensive option when compared to its GMC counterpart, the Acadia. At base level, buyers will pay $33,000 for an Explorer while they'd be paying closer to average at just under $30K with a new Acadia. When it comes time to splurge on some of the top trim levels however - that's where you'll really see the gap widen: Explorers are available all-the-way up in near-$60K territory whereas Acadia tops out around mid-$40s!

Ford may be able to justify the extra costs. It does have a much more powerful engine, for starters. The Explorer also has more of the advanced driver assistance features that buyers are after.

Looking at the initial cost is only step one when it comes to determining value. The second step involves looking at how much the SUV will cost as the years go on. This is where Kelley Blue Book and their "five-year cost-to-own" estimates can come in handy.

Despite its considerable expense, the 2021 Ford Explorer is a formidable SUV. Many buyers find themselves shelling out $21,465 for the entry-level model and racking up an estimated total of $40,385 to drive it in just five years! This number includes fuel costs of nearly nine thousand dollars as well as more than two grand towards maintenance and repairs - that's close enough to one cent per mile.

The out-of-pocket expenses for the 2021 Acadia are estimated to be $22,642. Contributing to that number are factors like $9,178 in fuel, $3,720 in maintenance, and $2,028 in repairs. Five years on the road will also reduce the Acadia's value by roughly $19,827. This means it costs around $0.57 per mile to drive, and approximately$42,469 total in five years.

The Explorer may not immediately appear to be the more cost-effective option, but a closer look reveals it offers considerably greater power and features at an equally impressive price. Not only will drivers benefit from this in the short term, they can also anticipate increased savings over time as well - including when trading or selling their vehicle at a later date!

Which is Better?

The 2021 GMC Acadia is the perfect SUV for those looking to stay within their budget. Offering more comfortable seating and a lower starting price than its competitor, this car provides value and convenience in equal measure. However, when it comes to top-of-the-line features there is no denying that the Explorer takes the prize – making it an excellent choice for luxury seekers.

With its powerful but fuel-efficient engine options and abundance of cargo space, safety features, and cutting-edge technology, the 2021 Ford Explorer is well worth a little extra upfront investment compared to settling for the lesser 2021 Acadia. Perfectly suited to families' needs now — and in years to come – this SUV has plenty of long-term benefits sure make them smile!

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