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Many modern SUVs boast many of the same features. While every brand puts their own spin on things, the underlying concept of most models remains the same. Two SUV models that truly are different from the rest include the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia. While the 2021 Honda Pilot mirrors all the attributes of a minivan that buyers love, the 2021 GMC Acadia is more upscale than most other SUVs could ever aspire to be. With their own personalities, these two SUVs options are unique in a way many others cannot compete with. Although each has its own attitude, there are a few commonalities the Pilot and the Acadia cannot escape from.
The general aesthetics of the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia are different from anything we have seen before. The Honda Pilot does a good job of balancing the look of a small SUV with the contours of a minivan. Yet, the 2021 GMC Acadia gains our attention in a different way. Its bold front grille is characteristic of this brand, and it is just as bold as it beautiful. From conventional to upscale, buyers can find everything they are searching for by investing in one of these two models. Yet, these are not the only attributes we love about these two options. They greatly differ in their powertrain inclusions, driving abilities, safety elements, and value. Let us look at how these models differ where it matters the most.
Some buyers enjoy SUVs for their immense towing power. These two SUVs do not back down from a challenge, but that is not the only attribute the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia are known for. The 2021 Honda Pilot, however, does rely on an enthusiastic and sporty V-6 that makes it fun to drive. Despite its more traditional minivan appearance, the Pilot is much spunkier than this relative model. A nine-speed automatic transmission pairs with this SUV nicely and does not get in the way. If anything, the smooth shifting of the 2021 Honda Pilot helps its feel rather seamless in its efforts.
Mirroring the playful attitude of the 2021 Honda Pilot, the 2021 GMC Acadia offers a base turbocharged engine with a bit of pep. This 2.5-liter four-cylinder setup can make up to 193 horsepower. Buyers looking for a bit more power and refinement will also find that an upgrade to a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 310 horsepower is a better option. Each of these engine options boasts their own strengths. Buyers can opt for the fuel efficient four-cylinder or the capable V-6 that can tow up to 4,000 pounds. After we get through the base and mid-level trims, another engine option emerges in the 2.0-liter 230hp turbocharged motor SLT and Denali models have access to.
As small SUV models, the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia are expected to maintain admirable fuel economy. In the end, they fulfill the desire of buyers in this area. A front-wheel drive Honda Pilot maintains a city fuel economy of 20 mpg and highway efficiency of 27 mpg. Incorporating all-wheel drive will knock these averages down by about one mpg. Comparatively, the 2021 GMC Acadia has multiple fuel economy stats that are dependent upon the selected engine. A front-wheel drive version that incorporates an all-wheel drive setup is the best Acadia option, as it averages 22 city mpg and 29 highway mpg fuel economy.
After buyers purchase a new vehicle, it is important they feel well taken care of by the producing automaker. Both the 2021 Honda Pilot and 2021 GMC Acadia promote nearly identical warranty agreements that do just that. Each one is accompanied by a three-year 36,000-mile limited warranty that covers manufacturer defects. They are also paired with a five-year 60,000-mile powertrain warranty to cover anything that may go awry under the hood. Where these two SUVs differ is in their complimentary maintenance provisions. There is no complimentary maintenance for the 2021 Honda Pilot, but the 2021 GMC Acadia does incorporate complimentary maintenance for the first visit after purchase.
SUV models, including the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia, are known for their comfort and convenience. Catering well to large families, these models make great vehicles for frequent travel and long drives. The 2021 Honda Pilot is more accommodating if it is passenger space you are looking for. This SUV fits up to eight passengers in its second- and third-row bench seat layout, while this count drops to seven passengers when captain's chairs are selected for seating in the second row. This flexibility allows buyers to choose the number of passengers they need their Honda Pilot to fit comfortably. Despite this extra space, the third row seat sits low and is rather stiff for adult passengers. Smaller children would fit better in the back most seat of the 2021 Honda Pilot.
Dropping down the maximum number of passengers by one, the 2021 GMC Acadia can fit up to seven passengers in its most accommodating layout. Opposite of the 2021 Honda Pilot, the driver's seat can be a bit cozy for taller passengers. The steering column does not tilt or telescope in a range that is wide enough to comfortably fit drivers of a larger stature. Yet, in general, the interior of the 2021 GMC Acadia is far more comfortable than that of the 2021 Honda Pilot. Its focus on passengers and commitment to luxury is what this model is known for, and this is evident in its interior design and configuration options.
The battle for passenger space is intense between the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia. Each one does their best to make the most out of the room they are given. The various seating configurations of each SUV make the amount of available cargo space vary within each model, as well. One of the highlights of the 2021 Honda Pilot is its cargo floor that is adjustable to meet the needs of buyers. A storage compartment under the floor is also a desirable attribute of this SUV. Behind the third row, buyers can expect to gain between 16-18.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
In comparison, the 2021 GMC Acadia also excels in the amount of cargo space it can offer to buyers. This model is set up much better for cargo transport with its 50/50 split rear seat and potential to completely stow second-row and third-row seats. With the middle and rear seats stowed, buyers can fit 28 suitcases in all within the cabin of the 2021 GMC Acadia. Comprised of 20.6 cubic feet of storage space total, Acadia owners can also stow items in two large-sized storage compartments under the cargo floor, as well.
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Safety features and enhancements are a top consideration to make in the purchase of a new vehicle. If a model does not take these attributes seriously, it is likely it is not the one for you. There are two main ways national agencies rate the safety of auto models available on the market. These consist of the vehicle's crashworthiness and the implementation of driver assistive safety features. Whether these features are included as standard or only available as optional upgrades for an additional cost also makes a bit impact on buyers and rating agencies, alike.
Both models stand tall at the top with a five-star safety ranking award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet, despite their high scores in this area, neither one was named as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. There are a few reasons for these near misses. Although the 2021 Honda Pilot incorporates a bevy of standard driver-assistive safety features, its overall range of safety elements is a bit of a downgrade from other SUVs. For the 2021 GMC Acadia it is the lack of standard driver-assistive safety features on entry-level models that causes it to miss the mark of being named as a Top Safety Pick. To gain access to these attributes, buyers of the GMC Acadia must pay extra for them or upgrade to a higher trim level.
Which Has the Best Value?
How do you determine the value of an SUV that seemingly has it all? One of the main factors that contributes to a vehicle's evaluation of value is its overall cost. Although this is not the deciding factor, it must be considered along with other elements such as the cost of ownership, number of available trim levels, and amenities incorporated within each trim. In terms of pricing, the 2021 GMC Acadia costs a bit less in every trim than the 2021 Honda Pilot. The GMC Acadia starts out at a cost that is $3,000 less than the base trim of the Honda Pilot. With each step up in trims, the Pilot further differentiates itself from the Acadia, as well.
Regarding the number of trim levels offered in each model, the 2021 Honda Pilot leads the way once again with six models total. Following close behind, the 2021 GMC Acadia has five different trims to choose from. Where the 2021 Honda Pilot incorporates sporty attributes, like paddle shifters and an auto stop-start system, the 2021 GMC Acadia incorporates luxury attributes, like a head-up display and heated steering wheel. Each of these models fills their own niche and incorporate the same density of attributes within every trim level.
The close cost, number of trims, and features within each trim make it difficult to determine whether the 2021 Honda Pilot or the 2021 GMC Acadia offers a better value. We enjoy the prestigious attributes of the 2021 GMC Acadia better, so for us this model is the clear winner.
Which is Better?
Despite what we consider to be the best value between the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia, every buyer has different qualities they seek out in a new vehicle purchase. What may be the best option for one buyer will not be suitable for another? These two SUVs offer a clear cut choice for specific classes of buyers.
For the more athletic and adventure buyer with a family, the sporty 2021 Honda Pilot fits the bill. It offers fun features and spunky attributes that are combined with spry handling. Not to mention, this SUV can seat up to eight passengers. It offers a seven passenger configuration for those who want a bit more space for cargo in the rear. One downfall of the 2021 Honda Pilot is that it incorporates just one engine, so if you do not like its V-6 there is not another option to consider.
Buyers who enjoy a bit more class and distinction will prefer the 2021 GMC Acadia instead. This model can fit one less passenger than the Honda Pilot, but it makes up for this in its inclusion of more cargo space. Appearing more like a conventional SUV, the GMC Acadia incorporates luxury attributes and bold styling details that make a statement wherever it goes. However, no matter how luxurious this model is, it still has some areas that could use some improvement. One of these includes the limited availability of driver-assistive safety features in lower trim levels.
Ultimately, the choice between the 2021 Honda Pilot and the 2021 GMC Acadia is up to each buyer. These two models are so different, that many buyers know which one they prefer before they even get into the specifics of each model. However, there are a few things these two SUVs do have in common. Their popularity, versatility, and SUV layout make them alike in more ways than one.