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2015 GMC Acadia vs. 2015 Buick Enclave: What's The Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2014

If you're looking for a new family crossover with some luxury touches, your search has probably led you to the 2015 GMC Acadia and the 2015 Buick Enclave. Both SUVs are competent, with excellent reliability records, reasonable pricing and a long list of equipment. They also both offer powerful V6 engines. It's no coincidence that the Enclave and Acadia are so similar because both are GM SUVs that share a platform and other mechanical touches. What's the difference between the two? We'll take a closer look to find out.

Exterior

The most obvious differences between the Buick Enclave and the GMC Acadia are most likely related to the exterior styling. The Acadia looks more like a traditional SUV, with a boxier design, a larger front grille and muscular wheel arches at all four corners. The Enclave, however, offers a more curved look, with sweeping lines that were probably designed to make it look a little softer and less aggressive than the bolder GMC.

Interior

Interior differences between the Acadia and Enclave aren't as major as exterior changes, but they're obvious as soon as you step inside. The Enclave's round air vents, for example, contrast with the GMC's squared vents, as do the Enclave's half-circle vents in the middle of the dashboard. It's the same story when you consider the Acadia's rectangular cabin features, which are very different from the Enclave's simpler, smoother appearance. Essentially, the Acadia is pitched as a more brawny, muscular crossover, while the Enclave is a little more understated and luxurious -- a point that's especially emphasized with the interior and exterior styling.

Mechanicals

The Enclave and Acadia both use the same engine: a 288-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. The two SUVs also share a 6-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive offered as an optional extra. Given their similar size and shape, the Enclave and Acadia also share fuel economy ratings, with the Environmental Protection Agency saying that 2-wheel-drive models will return 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.

Features

The Enclave's base price is just under $40,000, compared to the Acadia's base MSRP of just over $35,000. The $5,000 difference means that the Enclave is likely to include standard features not found in the Acadia -- and it does, offering additional equipment such as xenon headlights, a power lift gate, remote ignition and a power passenger seat. Admittedly, the Acadia also offers these features, but you'll have to pay more and opt for a higher trim level in order to get them.

This reality is true throughout the lineup of both SUVs: As trim levels progress, the Enclave tends to offer a few more standard features at a slightly higher base price than its GMC sibling. The exception is the upscale Acadia Denali, which offers everything the high-end Enclave Premium does for about the same price. Shoppers interested in equipping a lower-level Acadia model like an Enclave can usually do so, however, thanks to a wide range of options and few unique features.

Technology

Both the Enclave and the Acadia offer several new high-tech gadgets, with features ranging from ventilated seats and xenon headlights to navigation and tri-zone automatic climate control. With that said, the available technology stops short of some high-dollar rivals, as neither the Enclave nor the Acadia offers upscale features such as lane-keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert or adaptive cruise control.

Although there are some differences in features between the Acadia and Enclave, the two SUVs differ very little in terms of technological offerings. Both include GM's IntelliLink infotainment system as a standard feature, while both confine some of the latest safety features -- such as forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning -- to top trim levels.

Safety

Both the Acadia and Enclave received excellent marks in government crash tests, earning a 5-star overall rating. The SUVs haven't been submitted to a full round of testing from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though early tests suggest that their performance is excellent. With that said, neither SUV has participated in the challenging small-overlap front test, which has caused problems for several automakers.

As for safety features, we're impressed with the standard offerings in both the Acadia and the Enclave. In addition to the wide range of airbags included in each model, the Acadia and Enclave both offer a standard backup camera and parking sensors. Both models also offer forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning, though you'll have to pony up for top-end trim levels to get those items. Neither the Enclave nor the Acadia offers any unique safety features not available in the other model.

Conclusions

We think that the 2015 GMC Acadia and the 2015 Buick Enclave are excellent crossovers -- especially after they were freshened up in 2013. Given the similarities in terms of technology, powertrains and safety, however, the differences between the two SUVs are largely limited to styling, both inside and out. As a result, we suggest making a purchase that's based on your preferred appearance because your ownership experience probably won't be very different otherwise.

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Used 2015 GMC Acadia AWD SLE
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Used 2015 GMC Acadia AWD SLE
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Used 2015 GMC Acadia AWD SLE
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Used 2015 GMC Acadia FWD Denali
Used 2015 GMC Acadia
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 GMC Acadia vs. 2015 Buick Enclave: What's The Difference? - Autotrader