2022 Toyota Highlander vs GMC Acadia
As you browse around for a shiny new third-row SUV to replace your old (and potentially smaller) ride, you might be shocked to find out just how many of them are on the market at this very moment. As far as segments go, this is one of the most competitive, as all of these large SUVs strive to top one another in terms of available space, power, and included technological features. The 2022 Toyota Highlander vs 2022 GMC Acadia are two such rivals that will likely pique your interest.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is one of those third-row SUVs that has a third row that is so cramped it is meant only for kids. What's more, you do not get much cargo space when you leave that row in place. Most third-row SUVs do better in these aspects.
However, the Highlander offers a quiet, relaxed ride quality that is packed full of comfort. This SUV is easier to see out of than many vehicles its size, and the V6 engine expertly blends power delivery and fuel efficiency.
The 2022 GMC Acadia offers up a refined ride quality and swift acceleration from its available V6 engine. The cabin's design is contemporary and makes things easy for the driver to use. The equipped technology also embraces this degree of simplicity. Unfortunately, the Acadia isn't all that luxurious in design, even on the line-topping Denali trim. You can also find rivals with more space in the third row and cargo area.
Which one of these two SUVs is going to be the best people and cargo hauler? Does one offer a lot more value than the other? Which vehicle fits into your budget the most easily? Let's compare these two massive vehicles to find out so that you can make an informed decision.
A big, beefy powertrain can make owning a huge SUV an enjoyable experience. They have to be able to haul an abundance of weight around without dragging too hard on the fuel economy. However, an under-powered powertrain can leave you feeling left in the dust by every other vehicle on the road.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is powered by a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine that is able to generate 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission gets matched up to it and directs power to the front wheels. Meanwhile, all-wheel-drive (AWD) is given as an option for any of the Highlander's trim levels. You can get a Highlander Hybrid if you would prefer to save even more money at the pump.
The V6 is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. It can get from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is a little above average for this segment and places it in a photo finish with the ever-popular Kia Telluride. However, the Highlander comes off as being faster on the uptake. It just isn't quite as fast as the Acadia, but that's where the Highlander's excellent fuel economy comes into play. The fourth-generation Highlander is better able to round through turns than its predecessor. Body roll remains controlled, and the optional torque-vectoring AWD system assists since it can deliver engine power to individualized rear wheels, gently enhancing the Highlander's handling balance. Of course, it also has the added benefit of giving the vehicle more traction on slick road surfaces. Unfortunately, the Highlander does feel a lot like a massive SUV. It lacks the lightness of some competitors, many of whom stop more quickly in a panic braking scenario. But, overall, you won't exert much effort in daily driving.
Now, about that fuel economy. AWD-equipped Highlanders are EPA rated for 23 mpg combined and, on the FWD, 24 mpg combined. Given how tight the competition is, a 1-2 mpg difference is a big deal. Real-world tests place combined mpg on the AWD Highlander at 24.7 mpg. Take note: the Highlander Hybrid is able achieve an EPA estimated 36 mpg combined.
The 2022 GMC Acadia removed the former base SL model and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making the standard engine now a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 228 hp. FWD is standard on most of the Acadia's trims while AWD remains as an option. The AT4 and Denali are upgraded to a V6 engine that musters up 310 hp. AWD is standard on the off-road oriented AT4 trim level.
The V6 never leaves the Acadia feeling lost for power. It has a 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, which is pretty respectable for this segment. The braking system has an easy-to-modulate pedal and ample stopping power. The Acadia's steering feels light, which makes maneuvering it effortless as possible at any speed. There just isn't a whole lot of road feel when you're rounding through turns. The Acadia tries to push out widely during turns, which is normal given its size, but this SUV handles its massive weight with ease. The AT4 is the trim level to snag if you want to go off-roading since it is equipped with most of the usual off-roading features and designs.
The Acadia gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined on the base engine with FWD. The AT4 and Denali with AWD get a combined 21 mpg while the Denali with FWD gets 22 mpg combined. This places it right about on par with what you get on the Explorer, possibly even a little bit better if you stick with the base engine.
Drivability is an overarching term that we use to describe how well-rounded a vehicle works as a daily driver. How comfortable are the seats to sit in for hours and hours? Is the ride quality cushy enough without coming off as too drifty? Are the materials used of high quality? Are the cabin's controls smartly laid out? Are the tech features user-friendly? How much cargo space is available, and how many small item storage areas can you utilize? These are some of the major factors we talk about when discussing a vehicle's drivability status.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is easy to live with, with a ride quality that is delightfully plush. Road imperfections of all sizes are smoothed out quickly thanks to the well-tuned suspension, never feeling drifty at higher speeds. Up front, the seats are sculpted for comfort, plus the optional second-row captain's chairs are nearly as cozy. It's just the third-row seats that aren't comfy with their thin padding, narrow amount of space, and low seat cushion. Wind noise muted at higher rates of speed, and road noise is barely noticeable.
The first two rows of seats create an abundance of space for occupants, but the third row happens to be one of the most cramped ones there is in its class. Those wanting to use their vehicle to the utmost passenger capacity will do better with rivals like the Telluride or the VW Atlas. However, after you get into a seat, you will be able to find a good driving position. The only problem you might incur is not having enough extension range from the vehicle's telescoping steering wheel if you happen to be a taller person.
Outward visibility is a highlight on the Highlander with thin front roof pillars. The rearview mirror - which is camera-based - lets you to see out the rear window even if you have fully stocked up your cargo area. Of course, the optional surround-view camera system is effective since it can be rotated to give you a full glimpse around the Highlander.
For a while there, Toyota trailed behind its competitors in terms of available technology. However, this current generation of the Highlander tries to rectify that issue, although it falls just short in some ways. The available 12.3-inch touchscreen is absolutely massive compared to the standard 8-inch display, and it responds rapidly to your inputs. Downside? Surface reflections make the graphics strenuous to see while you are driving. The line-topping Highlander Platinum trim level comes with five USB charging ports for the first two rows, but you sadly will not find any in the third row.
Cargo space has some pros and cons to it. You only get 16 cubic feet of cargo space when the third row seats are left upright - a touch small for this segment. Behind the second row, however, you get a better-than-average 48.4 cubes. The lift-over height is normally sized for this segment. In-cabin storage spaces include some well-size pockets and cupholders. There are also two shelving units carved into the dashboard, and one of them has a handy phone cable keeper to reduce cord mess. But, since the wireless phone charger is located in the center armrest's bin, you will need to flip it upward so as to get to the charger. Placing a bulky rear-facing car seat in the second row is simple due to the generous movements fore and aft from the second-row captain's chairs. There are no anchors in the third row, but those in the second row are easy to reach.
Switching things over, the 2022 GMC Acadia is a competent daily driver. The front seats don't have excessive bolstering but are cozy for hours on end. The rear seats feature shorter cushions but are appropriately contoured for the human body. The third row is a bit tight for adults, so those seats are best left to the kids. The Acadia absorbs road imperfections well, allowing in only minimal noise amounts. The ride feels firm enough and certainly well controlled. Engine noise never becomes obnoxious, and wind and road noise are well muted. The dual automatic climate control system is simple with just a few buttons. The lowest speed is decently low, but there are seven more speeds above it. The dual seat heaters and ventilation on higher trim levels feel relaxing.
The Acadia's limited number of knobs and buttons makes it easy to figure out what's what, although it doesn't look that high-brow. The low step-in height makes getting in and out simple. The light doors open wide, but the door handles can pinch fingers. The Acadia feels car-like, and there is plenty of room up front for heads and knees. Forward visibility is restricted by a steep windshield, and the rear pillars are chunky. The available surround-view camera system aids with visibility. There are some quality issues given that the parking button is off-center and the quarter panels don't line up at all.
The Acadia's touchscreen technology interface is one of the user-friendly, emphasizing those features you will use most often. Bluetooth pairing is effective, and smartphone app integration is standard as well. The touchscreen has simple menus and huge, clearly-labeled icons. There are separate knobs for tuning and volume, which proves to be helpful.
You get plenty of space with the second row folded down, but the Acadia isn't particularly imbued with utility. You get a moderate amount of storage slots up front. The center console is deep but its squarish shape makes it an awkward fit. The door bins are too shallow. With the third-row seat folded down, you get a huge cargo floor to work with. The remote-release handles make folding the second row effortless. The easy-to-locate LATCH anchor points make strapping car seats in a cinch if you stick to using the outboard seats. The middle seat is a bit more difficult to reach.
Safety is a serious concern for almost every driver on the road. Auto manufacturers are aware of the demand for advanced safety features and designs. Both Toyota and GMC are know full well how to create functional driver aids and equip quite a few of them on their SUVs.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is equipped with the Safety Connect emergency communication services. It also has the Safety Sense 2.5+ bundle of various driver aids. These features include adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward collision mitigation, a lane keeping system, and a traffic sign reader. The LE trim tacks on a blind-spot monitor, and this includes a rear cross-traffic alert. The Limited has parking sensors for the vehicle's front and rear, and the Platinum gives you adaptive headlights and a head-up display.
Similarly, the 2022 GMC Acadia gets the GM Pro Safety Plus bundle of advanced driver aids standard. This gives the vehicle automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The expensive line-topping Denali adds a head-up display, but you'll have to pay more for the Technology package, which gives the Acadia a 360-degree surround-view camera, enhanced automatic braking with the forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and a digital rearview mirror - things that should come standard given the Acadia's steep price tag.
Which Has the Best Value?
As you set about finalizing your decision on which vehicle to sink your earnings into, think about what brings the most to the table for you. Which vehicle has the most overall value? Buyers need to do their research and hear about owners' experiences since taking a vehicle for a test-drive can only tell you so much.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander packs an extensive list of tech and safety features into one neat package. The V6 engine is a capable model, to be sure, but the interior materials are of just an average quality. Toyota's bumper-to-bumper warranty of three years/36,000 miles and its five years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage are both industry average. On that note, though, Toyota does give you the first two years of scheduled maintenance free of charge. Most others give you only one year free, at best.
2022 GMC Acadia doesn't get an abundance of driver aids on the higher trims. At least the GM Pro Safety Plus was made standard for this year, but this definitely takes away from a higher value. The quality of materials isn't all that exceptional either, and there isn't as much space behind the second row as what you get in some rivals. The Acadia fails to feel as expensive as it really is. Bummer, right?
Which is Better?
While the 2022 GMC Acadia has a nice list of features, there aren't enough to justify the price tag. And the powertrain, while quick to get the vehicle moving, doesn't reflect a well-rounded driving performance. On the other hand, the 2022 Toyota Highlander has a more capable V6 engine equipped and gives you a nice smattering of features. The third row is the one hindrance, but it is clear that Toyota really worked hard to make the Highlander a better SUV when they introduced the fourth generation in 2020.