GMC Acadia Vs. Ford Explorer: Big Crossovers Do Battle

By Justin Cupler | March 3rd, 2019

Crossovers play an important role in the automotive segment, as they have to combine a sedan, minivan, SUV, and station wagon in one package. Two great options that deliver all this and more are the 2019 Ford Explorer and 2019 GMC Acadia. Which of these three-row vehicles is best for our Fort Pierce, Florida area buyers? Keep reading to find out.


The 2019 Ford Explorer and 2019 GMC Acadia have similar two-box styling, but the last time the Explorer went through a redesign was 2011, so it shows its age. The Acadia, however, went through a big redesign back in 2017, giving in more modern styling. The 2019 Acadia also has its Denali trim that pushes it into the luxury realm. Sure, there is the range-topping Explorer Platinum, but it’s not on the same level as the Acadia Denali.

Three-row crossovers are never small, but the 2019 GMC Acadia has a relatively small footprint at 193.6 inches long and 75.4 inches wide. It is a little on the tall side at 70 inches. Its wheelbase checks in at 112.8 inches, and its base curb weight is 3,956 pounds.

The 2019 Ford Explorer’s body is much larger at 198.7 inches long and 78.9 inches wide, but it is lower at 66 inches tall. For as big as its body is, the Explorer’s wheelbase is surprisingly short at 112.5 inches. The Explorer is also much heavier at 4,385 to 4,901 pounds.

Advantage: 2019 GMC Acadia

  • Easier to park and zip through traffic
  • More modern take on the crossover design
  • Flashy Denali trim

Advantage: 2019 Ford Explorer

  • Platinum trim looks sharp


Inside, the 2019 Acadia and 2019 Explorer have an array of features, ranging from simple to luxurious. The latter includes premium upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, premium audio systems, upscale trim, and more in their upper trims.


Because the Ford Explorer hasn’t been redesigned since 2011, its cabin is dated. The dashboard is relatively bland, and the center stack has a lot of empty space filled with hard plastic, which cheapens even the range-topping trim. The Acadia, on the other hand, has a more modern-looking cabin layout with its simpler button layout and minimal hard plastics, which helps its range-topping Denali trim play the part of a true luxury crossover.  


In its first row, the 2019 GMC Acadia has 40.3 inches of headroom, 41 inches of legroom, 59.4 inches of shoulder room, and 55.7 inches of hip room. The Ford Explorer’s front seats are larger by 1.1 inches in headroom, 1.9 inches in legroom, 2.1 inches in shoulder room, and 1.6 inches in hip room.

In the second row, the GMC Acadia offers 39.6 inches of headroom, 39.7 inches of legroom, 58.7 inches of shoulder room, and 53.3 inches of hip room. The Explorer beats the Acadia in headroom by 1 inch, shoulder room by 1.3 inches, and hip room by 3.5 inches, but it is 0.2 inches short in legroom.


In the third row, the GMC Acadia offers 37.2 inches of headroom, 31.1 inches of legroom, 54.3 inches of shoulder room, and 42.9 inches of hip room. The Explorer beats the Acadia by 0.6 inches in headroom and 2.2 inches in legroom, but its shoulder room is 3.5 inches tighter and its hip room is 2.2 inches tighter.


Cargo room plays a huge role in buying a crossover, but there are always compromises to make with size and number of rows of seats. The 2019 Ford Explorer offers 21 cubic feet behind third row, 43.9 cubic feet behind the second row, and 81.7 cubic feet with both rear rows folded. The smaller 2019 GMC Acadia is tighter in all measurements at 12.8 cubic feet behind third row, 41.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 79 cubic feet with both rear rows folded.

Advantage: 2019 GMC Acadia

  • Modern-looking interior
  • Tons of luxury in Denali model
  • Wider third-row seat

Advantage: 2019 Ford Explorer

  • More seating room
  • Big advantage in cargo area


The 2019 Acadia comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. Buyers who need more power can get the optional 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Both engines pair with six-speed automatic transmissions, but the gear ratios differ for each engine. Front-wheel drive is standard, but buyers can opt for all-wheel drive.


The 2019 Ford Explorer skips the base four-cylinder engine and goes straight to a standard 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Buyers who prefer the quick torque delivery of a turbocharged engine but also don’t want to sacrifice fuel economy will appreciate the Explorer’s optional 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Both engines pair with a six-speed automatic transmission and come standard with front wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option,.

Buyers who need serious punch can opt for the Sport or Platinum trim and get a standard 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that cranks out 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.


Towing is not as big of a deal in crossovers as it is in full-size SUVs, but it remains a part of the buying process. The 2019 Acadia with the four-cylinder engine is not a good towing option with its 1,000-pound capacity. If you upgrade to the V-6 engine, this capacity jumps to a more respectable 4,000 pounds.


The 2019 Explorer is a slightly better towing option with up to a 5,000-pound capacity,


Because buyers often use these large crossovers as daily commuters, fuel economy can be a big part of the buying process. The GMC Acadia with the 2.5-liter engine gets up to 21 mpg city, 26 highway, and 23 combined. Moving to the 3.6-liter engine drops the fuel economy to up to 18 mpg city, 25 highway, and 21 combined.


The 2019 Ford Explorer with the base 3.5-liter engine gets up to 17 mpg city, 24 highway, and 20 combined. Jumping to the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine pushes its thriftiness to up to 19 mpg city, 27 highway, and 22 combined. Finally, the range-topping 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine gets up to 16 mpg city, 22 highway, and 18 combined

Advantage: 2019 GMC Acadia

  • Big base fuel-economy advantage
  • More powerful non-turbo V-6

Advantage: 2019 Ford Explorer

  • Potent turbocharged engine options
  • Performance-tuned Sport trim
  • Huge base towing advantage

Pricing and Features

The 2019 GMC Acadia comes in six trim levels — SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2, and Denali — and their starting prices range from $30,195 to $45,500.


The 2019 Ford Explorer has six trim levels — base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum — and their starting prices range from $32,365 to $54,165.

2019 GMC Acadia Key Features and Pricing by Trim

SL: $30,195

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Automatic stop/start
  • Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
  • Single-exit exhaust system
  • 17-inch painted aluminum wheels
  • Deep-tinted glass
  • Daytime running lights
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Intermittent rear wiper
  • Halogen projector-beam headlights
  • Heated, power mirrors
  • Active grille shutters
  • 3.5-inch monochromatic driver-information center
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi
  • Six-speaker AM/FM audio system
  • 7-inch GMC Infotainment System
  • Bluetooth streaming audio
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Voice command
  • Seven-passenger seating
  • Digital compass
  • Cruise control
  • Carpeted front floor mats
  • GMC Connected Access
  • Keyless open and ignition
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • OnStar® & GMC Connected Services capable
  • Power door locks
  • Power windows with express-down front windows
  • Rear-seat reminder
  • Rear climate controls
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Rearview camera
  • Teen Driver


SLE-1: $33,995

  • All SL features, plus
  • 18-inch compact spare tire
  • C-shaped LED signature lighting
  • First- and second-row carpeted floor mats
  • SiriusXM


SLE-2: $36,395

  • All SLE-1 features, plus
  • Driver mode selector
  • 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with light accents
  • Fog lights
  • Programmable power liftgate
  • Silver roof-mounted side roof rails
  • Six-passenger seating
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Heated front seats
  • Express-up/down power driver’s window
  • Remote ignition


SLT-1: $39,195

  • All SLE-2 features, plus
  • 18-inch painted aluminum wheels
  • Auto-dimming driver’s mirror
  • 120-volt power outlet
  • 4.2-inch multicolor driver-information center
  • 8-inch GMC Infotainment System
  • Eight-way power passenger’s seat
  • Bose premium eight-speaker audio system
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Power front-seat lumbars
  • Universal home remote
  • Lane-change alert
  • Blind-zone alert
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Rear parking sensors


SLT-2: $43,095

  • All SLT-1 features, plus
  • 3.6-liter V-6 engine
  • 20-inch bright aluminum wheels with light accents
  • Dual-outlet exhaust
  • Heavy-duty cooling system
  • Seven-pin wiring harness
  • Class-III trailer hitch
  • Heavy-duty cooling system
  • Heated rear outboard seats
  • Two-position driver’s seat and mirror memory
  • Hitch Guidance with Hitchview
  • Low-speed automatic emergency braking
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Forward collision alert
  • Following-distance indicator
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Automatic high-beam headlights


Denali: $46,695

  • All SLT-2 features, plus
  • 20-inch bright aluminum wheels with Midnight Silver accents
  • Bright roof-mounted side rails
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • High-intensity-discharge projector-beam headlights
  • Signature Denali grille
  • Navigation
  • 8-inch configurable driver-information center
  • Automatic heated steering wheel
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Denali-specific leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Carpeted third-row floor mat

2019 Ford Explorer Key Features and Pricing by Trim

Base: $32,365

  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • Six-speed SelectShift transmission
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Hill-start assist
  • Trailer-sway control
  • Electric power steering
  • 18-inch five-spoke Sparkle Silver-painted aluminum wheels
  • Acoustic windshield
  • Tinted rear glass
  • Automatic LED low-beam headlights
  • Halogen high-beam headlights
  • LED taillights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Chrome liftgate applique
  • Black mirrors with heat, power operation, and integrated blind-spot mirrors
  • Black door handles
  • Black lower front and rear bumpers
  • Body-color liftgate spoiler
  • Chrome dual-exit exhaust
  • Chrome grille bars with Dark Foundry Gray mesh insert
  • Air conditioning
  • SYNC
  • Four 12-volt power outlets
  • Front and rear carpeted floor mats
  • Cruise control
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Ford MyKey
  • Power door locks
  • Power windows with express-up/down front windows
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio system
  • One USB smart-charging port
  • Cloth seating
  • 60/40 split-folding second-row seats
  • 50/50 split-folding third-row seat
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Rearview camera with washer


XLT: $34,400

  • All Base features, plus
  • Body-color door handles
  • Chrome body-side cladding accent
  • Grille with chrome bars and silver-painted mesh insert
  • Silver roof-rack side rails
  • Keyless ignition
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • SiriusXM radio
  • Unique cloth upholstery
  • Perimeter alarm
  • Keyless entry keypad
  • Reverse sensing system


Limited: $42,765

  • All XLT features, plus
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine
  • 20-inch Premium Luster Nickel-painted aluminum wheels
  • Chrome exterior door handles
  • Grille with chrome bars and bright-silver-painted mesh insert
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • LED fog lights
  • LED signature lighting
  • Body-color, power-folding mirrors
  • Chrome roof-rack side rails
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 110-volt power outlet
  • Ambient lighting
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Remote ignition
  • Bright scuff-plate inserts
  • SYNC 3
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Front-view camera with washer
  • 12-speaker Sony audio system
  • FordPass Connect
  • Ford media bin with one smart-charging USB port
  • Voice-activated navigation
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • 50/50 power-folding third-row seats
  • Perforated-leather front and second-row seats
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated outboard second-row seats
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Forward sensing system


Sport: $46,625

  • All Limited features, plus
  • 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine
  • Four-wheel drive
  • Hill-descent control
  • Terrain Management System
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets
  • Black door handles
  • High-gloss-black mesh grille insert
  • LED taillights with unique blackout treatment
  • High-gloss-black liftgate applique
  • Gloss-black mirrors with LED turn signals and approach lights
  • Chrome quad-exit exhaust
  • High-gloss-black roof-rack side rails
  • Unique “EXPLORER” hood badge
  • Unique-badged floor mats
  • Illuminated front scuff plates
  • Unique perforated-leather seats with red accent stitching
  • Class III towing package


Platinum: $54,165

  • All Limited features, plus
  • 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine
  • Four-wheel drive
  • Hill-descent control
  • Terrain Management System
  • 20-inch bright machined-face aluminum wheels with dark-tarnish-painted pockets
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Unique grille with satin-chrome finish
  • Satin-chrome liftgate applique
  • Satin-chrome mirror caps
  • Quad-exit chrome exhaust tips
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Satin-chrome roof-rack side rails
  • Satin-chrome body-side moldings
  • Satin-chrome door handles
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Enhanced Active Park Assist
  • Platinum-branded floor mats
  • Twin-panel moonroof
  • Premium Sony audio system
  • Platinum premium seating
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist

Who Should Buy the 2019 GMC Acadia?

The 2019 GMC Acadia is great for buyers looking for an easier-to-manage crossover that can still haul up to seven passengers. Also, with its thriftier base engine, the 2019 Acadia is an attractive option for those with longer daily commutes.

Who Should Buy the 2019 Ford Explorer?

Buyers who need the most space possible will look to the 2019 Explorer to satisfy this need. Plus, the narrow niche of buyers looking for a performance SUV will find what they’re looking for in the Explorer Sport.


Need a three-row crossover that delivers decent fuel economy and tons of options? The 2019 GMC Acadia offers this in gobs and can save our Port St. Lucie, Florida buyers big bucks compared to the 2019 Explorer. Head down and see for yourself by taking the 2019 Acadia for a test drive at Garber Buick GMC serving the Vero Beach and Fort Pierce areas. If you can’t make it to our showroom today, you can check out our online inventory to see what 2019 Acadia models we have in stock for you.