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2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Toyota Highlander

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  • 2019 GMC Acadia

    A dark red 2019 GMC Acadia on white

    Starting at


    2019 Toyota Highlander

    A dark red 2019 Toyota Highlander on white

    Starting at


    21/26 MPGFuel Efficiency (city/highway)20/24 MPG
    193-310 HPHorsepower185-295 HP
    188-271 lb-ftTorque184-263 lb-ft
    YesTeen Driver SystemNo

    When looking at mid-size SUVs, power might not be as important to you as someone interested in a heavy-duty truck or a sports car, but it is still something worth considering. After all, you probably want an SUV so you can more easily load up your friends or family for a road trip, or haul some cargo across town. Even if you’re not planning on running a few hundred pounds of lumber to a work site like someone with a pickup truck, solid power and performance are still important. With that in mind, let’s compare the 2019 GMC Acadia vs 2019 Toyota Highlander.  

    Chances are both of these SUVs have come up in you search for a versatile, comfortable and safe SUV. We’re here to tell you how they stack up against one another and where some may be lacking.

  • Power and Performance

    A red 2018 GMC Acadia Denali racing along a mountain road

    The 2019 GMC Acadia has two different engines available, depending on the configuration you are looking at. The starting engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that provides up to 193hp and 188 lb.-ft. of torque and includes stop/start technology to help improve overall gas mileage. Then there is an available upgrade for certain models/trims, which is a 3.6L V6 engine that provides up to 310hp and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. If you know you’re going to need some extra muscle for your SUV, then this is a great option that gives you a lot more power than you’ll find in many other mid-size SUVs.

    By comparison, the 2019 Toyota Highlander also has two basic engines available – if we ignore hybrid options, since the Acadia is not available as a hybrid. The starting engine for the Highlander is a 2.7L 4-cylinder engine, which is about the same size as the one in the GMC Acadia, and provides up to 185hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Even though this is larger than the one in the Acadia, it provides a bit less power. Then there is a more powerful engine available in some models, which is a 3.5L V6 engine that provides 295hp and 263 lb.-ft. of torque. As you can see, you get less power from either of the Highlander engine options.

  • Configurations

    Black 2019 GMC Acadia overlooking valley with trees

    If you are interested in both the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Toyota Highlander but you’re not sure which one to get, then this is actually one of the most important categories to consider. Even though these are both mid-size SUVs, you might be considering taking your new ride off-road, or driving it in some rough terrain to go camping. If that’s the case, then you should think about if you will be fine with front-wheel drive or if you want all-wheel drive.

    If you plan on going off-roading with your SUV, then all-wheel drive is pretty much mandatory, otherwise you can easily find yourself stuck in rough or sloppy terrain. The 2019 Toyota Highlander is only available as an all-wheel drive with some pretty important restrictions. Only the LE Plus, XLE, SE, and Limited models of the Highlander give you the choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. If you want all-wheel drive in them, then you have to choose the available 3.5L V6 engine. All-wheel drive is not available on the standard Highlander LE model, and front-wheel drive is not available on the Limited Platinum model.

    While the 2019 GMC Acadia also has some restrictions on how you can setup your engine choice and drive type, you get more freedom with it. Front-wheel drive is available at every trim level on the Acadia and all-wheel drive is only unavailable on the starting SL trim level. Better yet, you can choose all-wheel drive on many of the Acadia models even if you want the starting 2.5L engine. This freedom lets you customize your new SUV exactly the way you want.

  • Interior Features

    The two-tone brown leather interior of a 2018 GMC Acadia Denali

    When comparing two vehicles like the 2019 GMC Acadia and the 2019 Toyota Highlander, it is important to always look at comparable versions. When it comes to something like interior and tech features, this is even more vital. The starting trim level of one vehicle usually cannot compare to the highest level of another in terms of starting options and available upgrades. With this in mind, let’s look at both the starting interior features for these two vehicles and what you can get if you are interested in the best build available.  

    The 2019 GMC Acadia SL, which is the base build, features a 7-inch touchscreen Infotainment system with Bluetooth support and compatibility with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It includes a 6-speaker sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 3-inch driver information screen. The SL includes power windows and doors, keyless open and start, tri-zone climate control, and a complete interior lighting package.  

    By comparison, the 2019 Toyota Highlander LE, which is the starting build, features a 6-inch touchscreen Multimedia system with Bluetooth connectivity and iPod connectivity. It includes a 6-speaker sound system, standard steering wheel, and 4-inch driver information screen. The LE includes remote keyless entry, power windows and doors, front and rear air-conditioning, and a basic lighting package.  

    Now, if you’re interested in all the bells and whistles, then the 2019 GMC Acadia Denali includes an 8-inch touchscreen Infotainment system with Navigation, voice activation, and smartphone app support. It includes a Bose premium audio system, heated seats and steering wheel, and an 8-inch configurable driver information screen. The Denali includes programmable door locks, driver memory settings, and tri-zone climate control with rear-located climate controls for passengers.  

    The 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited with Platinum package features an 8-inch touchscreen Multimedia system with Navigation, iPod support, and voice recognition. It includes a JBL speaker system, heated seats and steering wheel, and a 4-inch driver information screen. The Limited Platinum also includes blue LED ambient lighting and three-zone automatic climate control with second-row controls.

  • Safety Features

    A woman loading cargo into the back of a 2019 GMC Acadia

    Nothing is more important than safety when looking at a vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in a workhorse of a heavy-duty pickup, a sports car for relaxing on the weekend, or an SUV to get your kids to and from after-school activities. The most important part of any vehicle is the design that goes into ensuring you and the people you care about are safe when you’re behind the wheel. Let’s look at the full suite of available safety features for the 2019 GMC Acadia and 2019 Toyota Highlander – though keep in mind some of these will only be included or available at certain trim levels.

    GMC has gone all out with the safety features of the 2019 Acadia, including low-speed forward automatic braking, passenger sensing airbag systems, and LED daytime running lamps. Additional safety features include front and rear park assist, a following distance indicator to help prevent tailgating, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and forward collision alert. There is also a lane change alert with side blind zone alert to keep you from accidentally drifting into another vehicle, a rear cross alert for while you are in reverse, and a Teen Driver safety system to help teach teen drivers safe habits.

    The safety features of the 2019 Toyota Highlander are good, but there are a few missing pieces that keep it from being truly exceptional. The Highlander has a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and stability and traction control. There is an available blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist, and a smart airbag system. The Highlander lacks the Teen Driver system found in the GMC Acadia, however, which is a big drawback if you have a teenager who is going to use your SUV to learn to drive and develop good habits.

Carl Black Buick GMC Roswell 34.0526, -84.3317.