Both of GMCs 2021 SUVs Were Outdone by Corporate Cousins

GMC is like that sibling or first cousin who shares familial DNA but goes out of their way to set themselves apart for really no reason. If we had a dollar for every time someone has asked, “Why do GMC and Chevy compete?” well, you know how the rest goes. GMC has done a good job of outclassing Chevy, but it’s having a tough time impressing some critics in the crossover SUV department.

Both the 2021 GMC Acadia and Terrain ranked in the lower to mid-teens, while their Chevy cousins were ranked among the top 10. That’s according to U.S. News, at least.

GMC and Chevy share DNA and platforms

Anyone who has shopped for a crossover or SUV lately has likely taken a look at some GMC or Chevy models. Both manufacturers offer relatively affordable vehicles that cater to more mainstream buyers. However, GMC vehicles are slightly more deluxe, with trucks being the brand’s primary focus. SUVs seem to be more or less the icing on GMC’s cake, offering only three in various trims. On the other hand, Chevy purveys to broader tastes, offering everything from subcompacts to super-duty pickups, with SUVs dominating its noncommercial lineup.

It’s not difficult to notice how similar some GMC and Chevy models are to one another. Whether it’s exterior, interior, equipment, or mechanical components, it’s easy to see how much of the same DNA all four SUVs share. However, it’s not just the visible things they share but one important feature we can’t see: the platform. Underneath all that veneer, most General Motors SUVs are the same. For example, the GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox share the GM D2XX Vehicle Platform. And while the 2021 GMC Acadia is built on the GM Lambda platform and the 2021 Chevy Traverse on the C1XX platform, GM Lambda is based on the latter.

How the four GMC and Chevy SUVs compare overall

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In reality, going down the list of specifications, equipment, and available options, it’s hard to find many close similarities. Most likely, if we had the time to compare each 2021 SUV of the same class, we’d find the same thing. For example, outside heated power-adjustable mirrors are standard with the GMC Acadia but not available with the Chevy Traverse. Examples like this can be found all the way down the list, with one model offering something standard, while the other doesn’t even offer it as an option.

As for the most important things most buyers would want to know, such as engine and powertrain, similarities are sparse. Both the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain have the same horsepower (170) and torque (203 lb-ft). But looking at the Acadia and Traverse, there’s nothing close to similar. The Acadia offers a meager 188 hp and equally lame 266 lb-ft of torque. The Terrain, on the other hand, kills it with 310 hp but, um, 193 lb-ft of torque. Never mind. 

Despite the similarities, U.S. News prefers Chevy SUVs

In U.S. News’ comparison of the 2021 GMC Acadia and 2021 Chevy Traverse, it’s obvious which SUV is the winner. The Traverse ranks sixth, while the Acadia ranks 17th. The review praises the Acadia for its user-friendly infotainment system, smooth ride, decent fuel economy, and comfortable and roomy second row. Nevertheless, U.S. News shows the Acadia has a below-average predicted reliability rating, a less upscale interior than rivals, and a cramped third-row and cargo area.

In U.S. News‘ second comparison, the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox ranks fourth, and the 2021 GMC Terrain ranks 11th. The review says the Equinox has a “superb predicted reliability rating,” a user-friendly infotainment system, and spaciously comfortable seating. As before, this comparison states the interior is below average, and critics are far from impressed with the engine. As for the Terrain, the reviewers praise it for its roomy cabin, refined ride, and good fuel economy. On the downside, it also has a sluggish engine, cramped cargo space, and a high starting price.

The thing is, sharing DNA doesn’t automatically make all of them equal in quality. Even models belonging to the same manufacturer, sharing identical platforms, and rolling off the same assembly line can result in two very different outcomes. You can blame the development team, assembly management, third-party suppliers, and the like. Whatever the case, U.S. News’ critics handing GMC a poor rating for its SUVs isn’t a one-off. For instance, the GMC Yukon appears on Consumer Reports’ list of worst SUVs in 2021.