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2013 GMC Acadia vs. 2013 Ford Explorer

GMC Acadia VS Ford Explorer


It is not necessarily easy to compete in the large crossover SUV category, but GMC Acadia and Ford Explorer manage to deliver standout performances in two very different ways. Both vehicles give you strong engines, impressive towing capabilities, third row seating and a ton of technology features, but while Ford takes the sporty and modern approach, GMC appeals to the more classic and elegant-minded buyer. Regardless which vehicle you choose, you are sure to enjoy a rewarding experience cruising in-city, on the highway, or down a secluded country road.


Every Acadia is powered by a 3.6-liter engine that buyers have come to trust and truly rely on through the years. It delivers 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and can tow 5,200 pounds with ease. All-wheel drive is available to provide you with an extremely intelligent powertrain capable of reacting to changing driving conditions. Fuel economy is average for this segment, returning 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Ford gives you a few different options. Explorer’s standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic to deliver 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Hill start assist and hill descent control are included. it can reach 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, and yields 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Properly equipped, towing capacity is 5,100 pounds.

Those opting for Explorer Sport will enjoy a turbocharged version of this same engine to boost performance to 365 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. There is also a turbocharged “EcoBoost” 2.0-liter four-cylinder available on front-wheel drive models that delivers 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration speeds drop but fuel-economy is impressive at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Driving and Handling

Although large, both SUVs are known for handling quite nicely. Will you need to slow down a little around turns? Probably! However, you won’t feel as though you are driving a tank either, like you might expect.

Acadia gets a fully independent suspension so bumps felt by one wheel are not transferred to the others. This helps to deliver a smooth and comfortable ride. Ford feels solid, even at highway speeds and the electric power steering system is incredibly responsive. Both vehicles will give you a commanding view and feel of the road, so whether you are stuck in traffic in, or cruising the back country roads you will feel confident.


Top safety scores in roof, front and side-impact protection from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety can be appreciated in Acadia and Explorer. These are family-friendly vehicles that have been designed with safety in mind. Acadia boasts a Front Center Air Bag, which is an industry first while Explorer gets Ford’s Curve Control; a feature that can monitor speed entering a corner and slow the vehicle down if needed.

Ford gives you the MyKey® system, allowing parents the power to set audio and speed control for younger drivers while GMC gives you OnStar, providing roadside assistance, automatic crash response and more.


As mentioned, these SUVs provide two very distinct looks. Acadia is classic and sophisticated while Explorer is modern and sporty. Acadia gets full redesigned for 2013, with a new hood, front fascia, grille and wheel options. It offers a confident stance with clean lines and gorgeous new projector beam headlamps.

Explorer received a redesign two years ago, and fortunately, Ford did not fuss with it because it is the best design yet. Black lower bumpers offer a rugged look while chrome accents and a satin silver grille provide a modern attitude. Explorer has an agile, fluid look that Ford fans love, and the available 20-inch wheels are a must-have.


Both provide three rows of seating, but if you plan on using your third row for adults, Acadia would be your best option. Explorer’s third row is better suited for children, however Explorer also gives you a power-folding rear seat. Acadia seats up to eight passengers with more than enough room for adults to fill all three rows. The second row does slide easily to provide access the third row.

GMC gives Acadia a revised center console and handsome cabin accents while Ford has one of the most user-friendly interfaces on the market.

Technology and Entertainment

The Color Touch Radio with IntelliLink® is a highlight in Acadia, but is it enough to compete with SYNC®? These interfaces are very similar yet quite unique, so getting familiar with both could sway you toward one vehicle or the other.

Both vehicles also offer a rear seat DVD entertainment system to keep passengers entertained on the road. Acadia’s Color Touch Navigation System is vivid, easy-to-use and integrates seamlessly with SiriusXM® Traffic and Weather, but the 12-speaker Sony® audio system available is hard to pass up.



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