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2020 Chevrolet Traverse vs Ford Explorer

2020 Chevrolet Traverse vs Ford Explorer
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2020 Traverse vs Explorer - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

The sport-utility-vehicle, or SUV, has become one of the most popular vehicle types in the United States. SUVs and trucks now dominate the roads in place of the sedans and compact cars of past eras. The 2020 Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Explorer are both popular entries in the mid-sized SUV category.

Ford and Chevrolet are two of the most popular car manufacturers in the world. Their fan base in the United States is especially strong. Both automakers have legendary histories and huge reputations in the business. The companies each have garnered a loyal following. This makes comparisons of the Chevrolet Traverse to the Ford Explorer only natural.

Both of these mid-sized SUVs offer ample cargo space. The 2020 Chevrolet Traverse offers three rows of seats to accommodate seven or eight people. The 2020 Ford Explorer can comfortably seat up to six or seven occupants. Both vehicles are similarly priced and offer great value.

The Powertrain

The 2020 Chevrolet Traverse gives buyers the option of several different trim levels. Most are available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. Every trim package will come equipped with the exact same engine. This is a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 310 horsepower. It also cranks out 266 pound-feet of torque at 2,800 revolutions-per-minute (rpm).

All of that power and torque means that the Traverse never gets bogged down, even with a full load of cargo and passengers. Acceleration is brisk for a larger vehicle. There is plenty of passing power at highway speeds. The 4-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes provide smooth and powerful stopping capabilities.

The 9-speed automatic transmission provides smooth, effortless shifting. This transmission system is electronically controlled and features overdrive. There is also a Driver Shift Control system to allow manual gear changing when preferred.

All models of the Traverse have a 19.4 gallon fuel tank. Drivers can expect to get around 18 miles-per-gallon while cruising around the city. The Traverse gets around 27 miles-per-gallon while driving on the highway. These figures are for models equipped with front-wheel-drive. All-wheel-drive models get a slight decrease in miles-per-gallon.

One of the perks of owning an SUV is their comfort and convenience on long road trips. This makes towing capacity an important feature of these vehicles as well. Depending on the model, the Traverse can tow up to 1,500 to 5,000 pounds. This makes it easy to take along a boat or trailer on family vacations.

Chevrolet is known for building reliable, long-lasting engines. Owners should enjoy many, trouble-free years with their 2020 Traverse. Chevy offers bumper-to-bumper, limited warranty coverage for 3 years or 36,000 miles. The powertrain is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The 2020 Ford Explorer base-model engine offers slightly less horsepower than the Chevy Traverse. The Ford comes equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost Engine. This 4-cylinder power plant can produce up to 300 horsepower. At the highest trim levels, the Explorer can be equipped with a 400 horsepower, V-6 engine.

With the 3.0-liter V-6 engine, the Explorer accelerates noticeably quicker than the Chevy Traverse. Braking is smooth and powerful. There's not much difference there between the Chevrolet and Ford unless you choose the ST Sport model of the Explorer. That specific model gets serious upgrades for the shocks and brakes.

Every model of the Ford Explorer comes with the same basic transmission system. It's a 10-speed transmission with Ford's Select Shift. Just like in the Traverse, the Explorer allows for manually moving through the gears when needed. Most models of the Explorer are available in rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive. The Explorer offers great off-road performance.

Fuel economy will depend on the engine and drive type. The base engine with rear-wheel-drive gets around 27 miles-per-gallon in the city and 29 miles-per-gallon on the highway. All-wheel-drive brings the fuel-efficiency down a bit, as does opting for the V-6 engine. When properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds, beating out the Chevrolet Traverse by quite a bit in this category.

Ford is known for being just as reliable as Chevrolet when it comes to their engines and complete powertrain. Their warranty coverage is almost identical to what Chevrolet has to offer. They cover the basics for 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The powertrain is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles.


The latest Chevrolet Traverse offers decent enough steering and handling. All three rows offer ample room for passengers. Chevy gives drivers several options for configuring the seats for more passenger or more cargo room. You can get anywhere from 23 cubic feet of space to 98.2 cubic feet of space.

The Traverse provides a smooth, quiet ride. There is very little road or engine noise even at highway speeds. The frame and suspension system soak up every little bump in the road. The seats are supportive and comfortable in every row. These come in either premium cloth or perforated-leather-trim upholstery.

The Traverse is filled with cup holders and small-item storage spaces. The materials are just average, but the construction and finish is excellent here. This may account for the low overall cost of this vehicle. It's well built, but there are few premium materials or extra flourishes inside.

Tri-zone automatic climate control is a nice touch to keep your whole crew comfortable. Chevy has also included a nice infotainment system. The base model provides a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for all of your smart devices. A CD player and stereo are standard with the option for a premium, 10-speaker audio setup from Bose.

The infotainment center can be controlled via the touchscreen or the handy buttons on the steering wheel. Wireless charging for smartphones is available on the higher trim levels. A second infotainment system with a DVD player can be added for the rear-seat passengers.

The 2020 Ford Explorer offers solid steering dynamics. The Traverse may be a bit smoother on the road, but the Explorer excels on off-road territory. The rear-drive chassis and new weight distribution for 2020 has greatly increased the steering and handling capabilities over previous models.

The Explorer offers a few less seats than the Traverse. It still has plenty of head, leg and elbow room for the seats that are there. All seat rows are fairly easy to access too. Noise levels are kept to a minimum if perhaps a bit more noticeable than inside of the Traverse.

The 2020 Explorer has a bit less cargo room when compared to the Traverse. You'll see 18.2 cubic-feet of space with all of the seats in use. When properly configured, this can be expanded up to 87.8 cubic feet. Similar to what the Traverse offers, the Explorer has tri-zone electronic temperature control.

The base infotainment system here is pretty basic. There's an AM/FM stereo with an MP3 jack and six speakers. It's already set up for SiriusXM Satellite Radio. FordPass Connect provides a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Higher trim levels get you voice commands and a full navigation system. There are numerous USB ports for charging your phone.

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Chevrolet Traverse has airbags up front. These include your standard front bags and seat-mounted, side airbags. There are head-curtain airbags for every row of seats. Electronic stability control and traction control help to keep the Traverse nice and stable.

There are a number of safety features and driver-assist systems in the Traverse. A distance indicator helps drivers to maintain a safe distance. A rear-view camera gives you a better picture of what's behind you. An HD surround vision system is installed in the higher trim levels.

A forward-collision alert sounds a warning when there's an impending crash. Automatic emergency braking assists the driver in stopping in time before an incident occurs. Front pedestrian braking can even detect people and apply appropriate braking to prevent accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did two different crash tests for the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse. They gave the Traverse a "Good," rating for both. The Traverse was also tested in three different categories by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Scores are rated from one to four stars. In front-crash tests, the Traverse scored a four. It also scored a four for the rollover test and a perfect five in side-crash results.

The Ford Explorer has all of the same airbags of the Traverse with a couple of additions. It also adds on knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. Just like the Traverse, it also offers stability and traction-control systems. The Explorer features a robust design with crumple zones and support beams to mitigate the impact of a collision.

Both vehicles are equipped with a tire-pressure monitor to help avoid flats and blowouts. The Explorer has an anti-theft alarm and a battery-saver feature. Rear-view cameras are standard in most SUVs nowadays and you'll find one here in every trim level of the Explorer.

The Explorer has a lane-keeping feature to make sure you don't veer too far off the path. Automatic-emergency braking is similar to the safety, brake features of the Traverse. Ford also has a system called BLIS that helps drivers to better monitor potential blind spots.

The IIHS gives the 2020 Ford Explorer a "Good," rating in a number of categories. These are front crash, side, roof strength, head restraints and seats. The NHTSA gives the Explorer a perfect five-star rating in their overall category. All sub tests also were scored as perfect fives for this SUV.

Which Has the Best Value?

The base price of a 2020 Chevrolet Traverse is $29,800. The latest Ford Explorer comes in at $32,765. The Ford is a bit higher in cost, but it does offer slightly better fuel economy. The difference might be made up in savings at the gas pump in the long run.

If you plan on going for the cheapest trim levels, then the Chevrolet Traverse has more to offer. There are better comfort features for the base level. The infotainment system and driver-assist technology are better at this level for the Chevy as well.

When moving up to the higher trim levels, the included features and perks start to even out. The highest trim level for the Ford comes out a bit higher than the Chevy.

Which is Better?

The answer to this question depends on what you're looking for and what kind of driver you are. If you plan on taking your SUV off road, then the Ford is your best bet. Both offer all-wheel-drive, but the Ford excels in this category. Most drivers, however, don't need their SUV to go too far off the beaten paths.

At the lower trim levels, there's no question that the Chevy is the better bargain. You get a lot more bang for your buck with loads of features at a great price. If driving dynamics and overall performance are more your thing, a Ford Explorer equipped with the V-6 engine can't be beat. The 400 horsepower and massive amounts of torque make this beast impressive when it comes to acceleration and towing power.

Used 2020 Chevrolet Traverse: