In a world of SUVs, the GMC Acadia is a midsize crossover that aims its design at family-oriented buyers, with infotainment and seating up to seven. It added an updated design and new features for 2018, but how does it stack up to the Ford Explorer’s image as the modern family wagon?

For drivers in Allentown, Emmaus, and Bethlehem, we’ve placed the 2018 GMC Acadia and the 2018 Ford Explorer side by side for a thorough comparison of all their technology, features, and safety tech. Read more about each vehicle, and learn where you can go to test drive the winner.


The base 2018 GMC Acadia is equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine that produces an admirable 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. It isn’t turbocharged like many of its classmates, but it doesn’t need to be. For the trim levels above base, it switches to a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. All are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

On the Acadia’s center console, there are control options for sport, towing, or off-road modes, as well as two- or four-wheel drive for the all-wheel drive version. This is all backed by nicely-weighted steering, an absorbent four-wheel independent suspension, effective brakes, and smooth handling.

Mid-range Explorers use a 2.3-liter turbo-4 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, though most are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. They’re both paired to a six-speed transmission. It’s sport mode accelerates strong, but it gets hung up on rough terrain and offers little torque at low engine speeds.

The Ford Explorer also offers a multi-traction drive system that offers mud, sand, and snow modes, though they aren’t responsive enough to the conditions to truly be effective.


The GMC Acadia seats up to seven, with a folding third row and comfortable, multi-adjustable seats. There’s plenty of head- and legroom throughout, and considerable cargo room with the third row upright. The standard features include a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and three-zone climate control, with options including heated seats, remote start, Bose audio, and a full suite of safety features.

The Explorer also seats seven in three rows, but it doesn’t offer much legroom. The second and third rows are a bit neglected, with less padding, thinner materials, and poorly structured seating. More comfort here requires an upgrade to the captain’s chair options. The Explorer offers very little cargo space with the third row upright as well. The base model offers AM/FM/CD audio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 4.2-inch touchscreen.

Available options for the Explorer include heated seats, a 12-speaker Sony system, advanced-safety features, and some performance upgrades, but you have to move far up the trim level to get those.


Both of these vehicles can satisfy the sport-utility needs, but the Ford Explorer just can’t match the reliable performance, interior comfort and space, or the available features of the GMC Acadia. Drivers in Allentown, Emmaus, and Bethlehem can see for themselves by visiting Kelly Buick GMC to schedule a test drive of the 2018 GMC Acadia.