GMC Acadia vs. Toyota Highlander

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - October 21, 2016

When minivans aren't capable enough, or not your style, there are plenty of crossovers to cover your seven- or eight-passenger needs.

The GMC Acadia and Toyota Highlander are two such crossovers that, when equipped with V6 engines, deliver similar tow ratings and fuel efficiency for a similar price. But which is the better choice?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Acadia & Highlander »

What the GMC Acadia Gets Right

The GMC Acadia underwent a complete redesign recently, dropping its size and weight significantly while enhancing its aging looks. All of this now puts the midsize GMC right in the wheelhouse of the Highlander. With its change in size comes a far tighter cabin, but the Acadia still has very respectable second- and third-row legroom, and its third-row headroom beats out the Highlander by a wide margin.

Also new in the Acadia are its powertrains. The smaller, lighter body allows GMC to add a thriftier 2.5-liter four-cylinder option that produces 193 horsepower, while the 3.6-liter V6 gets a power boost to 310 ponies. The base four-cylinder engine is not only more powerful than the Highlander’s base engine, is also gets an extra mpg in combined city and highway driving.

The Acadia is also more premium than it’s ever been in its base setup. It now comes standard with upscale features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, a WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more. What’s more, all of this comes in at a price just south of the Highlander's.

What the Toyota Highlander Gets Right

The Highlander also recently got a new look, but its refresh is nowhere near as comprehensive as the Acadia’s full redo. With this restyle comes the addition of standard Toyota Safety Sense, which includes automatic emergency braking.

The Highlander also received a bump in power from its optional V6 engine, bringing it to 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. While this engine isn’t quite as powerful as the GMC's, it does get slightly higher fuel economy of up to 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined (with front-wheel drive).

In the Highlander, front seat occupants will enjoy significantly more legroom, and cargo room is greater across the board. Finally, the Toyota’s 5,000-pound towing capacity easily bests the Acadia's.

Which Is the Better Choice?

With its smaller footprint and new powertrains, the Acadia finally competes with the Highlander. However, the Toyota checks all the boxes that truly matter.

Our Verdict: Toyota Highlander

The new Acadia is great, but the Highlander's better V6 fuel economy, roomier front seat, additional cargo room, and superior towing capacity put it on top of the fresh GMC.

Take a closer look at the GMC Acadia >>

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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