All it takes to print with ABS is a heated bed, plus the usual fiddling to get it right. The first printrbots shipped only printed with ABS since they lacked a print cooling fan but had a heated bed. A heated bed will help PLA stick (I print PLA with the bed at 60C) and then detach easier when it cools. so it's beneficial even when you're not printing ABS. Sure doesn't take a $2300 printer.
Thinner layers and tuning your print temperatures and speeds will give better quality prints, which is probably what you were seeing with that more expensive printer, and likely not a result of printing in ABS. Of course, tuning your printer for better quality (or speed, if that's your goal) can become an endless task looking for that final tweak
ABS does contract more as it cools, takes more fiddling to get the setting right on larger parts. The big buck printers (that's ones with 5 digit prices) use a heated chamber to get around this, but you can do well without one.
Try a fine abrasive and water instead of acetone, like (say) Barkeeper's Friend (a type of cleanser, like Comet or Ajax, but different) and see what that does. PLA (supposedly) doesn't dissolve in acetone so likely it's just acting as a lubricant for your polishing. Just for grins I'll try to remember to use the sock/acetone trick on PLA and see what happens, the next time I'm near both.
What kind of printer do you have (if not a Printrbot), and what model? Does it have a heated bed already?