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The midsize SUV has continued to become one of the most popular vehicle classes for new vehicle buyers. For the 2021 model year, there are many great options to consider. Two of the most common options will be the 2021 GMC Acadia and the 2021 Ford Explorer. If you are considering these vehicles, you should consider the features of each when determining which is the best option for you.
2021 GMC Acadia Powertrain
When you are looking for a midsize SUV, engine performance will be an important consideration. The base engine options available for the 2021 Acadia is a four-cylinder engine that provides just under 200 horsepower. The next option is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides around 230 horsepower. Those that are looking for the most engine performance possible will want to upgrade to the V6, which provides more than 310 horsepower.
All of the engine options come standard with front-wheel drive but can be upgraded to all-wheel drive. The 2021 Acadia also comes standard with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Overall fuel efficiency for the 2021 Acadia is also acceptable as the base engine and four-cylinder turbocharged engine provide around 26 MPG on a blended basis. With the V6, MPG falls to around 24 MPG. This will decline slightly more for anyone that chooses AWD.
2021 Ford Explorer Powertrain
If you are interested in a high-performance SUV, the 2021 Explorer can be a great option. This SUV offers three different engine options to consider. The base engine option is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides around 300 horsepower. The next option up is a V6 that provides 365 horsepower. The most powerful engine options that is available with the 2021 Explorer is the twin-turbocharged V6 that will provide around 400 horsepower, which rivals the engines available for any other vehicles in this class.
Those that choose to get a 2021 Explorer will have the option of either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Additionally, it will comes standard with a ten-speed automatic transmission that makes it fun and smooth to drive. When coupled with the base engine option and rear-wheel drive, you can expect to receive fuel efficiency of around 24 MPG. This will then decline further to around 21 MPG if you upgrade all the way to four-wheel drive and the most powerful V6 engine available.
Finding a SUV with good engine performance and powertrain is important for many drivers. If you are looking for a high-performance engine, the 2021 Explorer is a better choice as even the base engine rivals the 2021 Acadia’s most powerful option. Further, the Explorer can be paired with an engine that will provide upwards of 400 horsepower, which would make it among the most powerful SUVs in the class.
While the engine performance is better in the Explorer, you will not have as much fuel efficiency as you would receive with the Acadia. Further, the base rear-wheel drive option may not be practical in some climates and will require the upgrade to four-wheel drive.
2021 GMC Acadia Drivability
Overall comfort is considered a positive with the 2021 Acadia. The SUV can fit up to seven passengers, with two in the back row. This declines to six passengers if you choose to get captain’s seats in the second row. There is plenty of head, shoulder and legroom for those in the front and second row. However, two adults may feel tight in the back row, particularly if they are located behind the third-row seat.
The 2021 Acadia comes standard with cloth upholstery and sliding seats in the second row, but this can be upgraded to leather and power seats with some of the higher trim levels. Some other luxury upgrades available include a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front row seats. Cargo space includes 42 feet behind the second row and close to 80 cubic feet of space when the second row is folded down.
The Acadia also has an impressive standard tech and interior features package. It comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen that can be used to connect to the GMC Infotainment system or for smartphone integration. Other standard features include five USB ports, WiFi hotspot and satellite radio. Navigation, wireless device charging and an enhanced audio system are available with higher trims.
2021 Ford Explorer Drivability
The layout of the Ford Explorer is comparable to the Acadia. The base option includes seating for seven, but this drops to six if you choose to have a second row of captain’s chairs as opposed to a bench. Overall comfort for passengers is good with plenty of legroom for those in the first and second row. Passengers in the third row may feel tight, but there will be more legroom space if captain’s chairs are selected for the second row.
The Explorer is well equipped with standard interior features including a nice comfortable cloth upholstery and power seats. Some upgradeable features available also include leather seats, a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated seats in the front. Cargo space in the Explorer is also ample with around 48 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 88 cubic feet of space when the second and third rows are folded down.
The interior tech and driver’s assistance features include an eight inch touchscreen that can be connected to your smartphone, various USB ports, a WiFi hotspot, and access to the Sync3 infotainment system. Some available upgrades include a larger touchscreen, a B&O audio system and wireless device charing.
Overall, the 2021 Acadia and Explorer are very similar when it comes to drivability. They have similar layout and both are considered comfortable and fun to drive with similar tech features available as standard and with upgraded trims. One advantage for the Explorer is the increased cargo capacity, which is a benefit for many people that are shopping for a midsize SUV and need more space.
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2021 GMC Acadia Safety Ratings and Features
The 2021 Acadia has received positive overall safety ratings. The IIHS has provided a Good overall safety rating and this includes Good safety ratings related to crash resistance, roof strength and rollover resistance. The NHTSA has provided the 2021 Acadia with a five-star overall rating, which includes frontal and side crash resistance and protection ratings of five-star and a rollover rating of four stars.
Part of the reason for the positive ratings is due to the strong package of safety features that come standard. This includes a suite of airbags, electronic stability control, four-wheel ABS and a variety of safety tech features. Some of the standard safety tech features include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, lane change alert and even the enhanced Teen Driver features that help you to set speed limits and set other controls based on who is driving the vehicle.
2021 Ford Safety Ratings and Features
The 2021 Ford Explorer has also received positive overall safety ratings. The IIHS has also provided a Good overall rating with Good ratings in all sub categories, except the headlight review, which provided an Acceptable rating. The NHTSA has given the Explorer with a five-star overall rating, which includes five-star crash resistance and a four-star rollover resistance.
The 2021 Explorer also comes standard with a range of different safety features. This includes many different airbags that are located in the front and rear of the vehicle, an impressive brake system and child safety locks. The Explorer some great standard active safety features as well including a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and emergency braking. Many of these features are part of the impressive Co-Pilot 365 safety package that is in many Ford vehicles today.
If you are looking for a safe vehicle, you cannot go wrong with either the GMC Acadia or the Ford Explorer. The two vehicles have received identical impressive safety ratings from the IIHS and the NHTSA. They also both come standard with front-wheel drive but can be upgraded to all-wheel drive with higher trims. The package of airbags and standard active safety features are also quite comparable.
Which Has the Best Value?
2021 GMC Acadia Value
The base GMC Acadia trim is the SL, which has a starting MSRP up just under $31,000. If you are looking to upgrade to AWD, you will need to select the SLE trim, which starts at closer to $39,000. For those that would like to upgrade to a higher-performance engine and get more interior features, the Denali trim is a great option to consider. This is close to fully loaded and will cost nearly $50,000. Another trim that has a great set of features and the same V6 engine is the AT4, which costs closer to $43,000 but has less interior and safety features.
When looking for the 2021 Acadia, you will find there are some great promotions available. The SL trim has a starting lease package as low as $230 per month with $3,000 down. New buyers can also take advantage of up to $6,500 in dealer incentives when buying a new Acadia. GMC also offers standard warranties of a three-year and 36,000-mile base warranty and five-year 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2021 Ford Explorer Value
The 2021 Ford Explorer has a variety of different trim levels and packages that vary in price based on the engine option and other features. The base trim level, which comes with the standard four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive has a base MSRP of just over $32,000. If upgrading to four-wheel drive, this increases to just over $34,000.
If you are looking for the most engine performance available and as many features as you can get, the Platinum four-wheel drive trim can be had for nearly $55,000. Most drivers will find that the Limited trim is very well equipped and the turbocharged engine provides plenty of acceleration for around $45,000 MSRP. The total cost of ownership for any of these vehicles tends to be around 20% higher than the MSRP as it tends to include the costs of insurance, maintenance and depreciation.
Ford also frequently has great promotions for the 2021 Explorer. This includes a lease deal that is low as $365 per month for 39 months if you put $3,900 down at closing. You can also get 0% financing for up to 36 months in some cities. Ford also provides a standard three year and 36,000 mile base warranty and a five-year and 60,000 mile power train warranty with any new vehicle purchase.
When it comes to value, the Acadia tends to be more affordable than the Explorer. However, the Explorer does have more engine performance, which typically increases the price of any vehicle. Both has comparable warranty programs, which will give comfort that you are buying a reliable vehicle.
Which is Better?
As you are looking for a midsize SUV, both the 2021 Acadia and Explorer will stand out. Overall, the 2021 Explorer seems to be a better option. The higher-performance engine and increased cargo capacity will be a selling point for many. However, the lower price point and lease deals could be appealing to many Acadia buyers.