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As far as three-row SUVs go, the Chevy Traverse and Toyota Highlander are two excellent options. They can be ideal for a variety of situations, whether that involves taking the whole family on a vacation, running errands around town, or going on adventures into more rugged terrain. Both models come in a variety of trims, so there's a range of features that are available. While the base models aren't the cheapest vehicles in the market, they are reasonably priced. On the other end of the spectrum, the premium trims are really decked out with upscale features.
This detailed overview should prove to be useful as potential customers decide whether the 2021 Chevy Traverse or Toyota Highlander would be the better choice.
There's only one available engine for the Traverse, while the Highlander can come with either a standard powertrain or a hybrid one. In the Traverse, there's a V6 engine that has a displacement of 3.6 liters. It gives the SUV 310 horsepower, 266 pound-feet of torque, and the ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The standard powertrain on the Highlander uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine, so it's just about the same size as the Chevy's engine. This 3.5-liter engine doesn't have quite as much power as the larger one in the Traverse; the Highlander has 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It also has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
In the Traverse, the engine has been matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission. In comparison, the Highlander has an eight-speed automatic transmission. Honestly, most people won't notice any difference between these two components, and in reality, a difference of 15 horsepower isn't that significant.
What is important to note is that the Highlander is available as a hybrid. The hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter engine and an electric motor, and it's been matched with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Net horsepower is 243, and towing capacity drops to 3,500 pounds. People who plan on hauling heavy cargo or are likely to be dealing with very difficult driving conditions may be a bit concerned with these numbers, but this should be enough capability for the average SUV driver.
Of course, the main reason to get a hybrid SUV is to save gas. A hybrid Highlander can earn up to 36 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway. There is a slightly higher city fuel economy because the system can capture some of the energy created while braking, and it can use that energy to recharge itself. The stop-and-go driving that one does in a city is actually beneficial for hybrids.
A traditional Highlander can earn up to 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway. The Chevy Traverse doesn't do as well in this area. It has an estimated fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway.
The two models come standard with front-wheel drive, and they have available all-wheel drive. It would be a smart move to get all-wheel drive if a particular customer anticipates having to deal with slippery conditions. The Traverse has a few drive modes that people can choose from. If equipped with the right equipment, the Driver Mode Selector allows the choice of front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, off-road mode, or tow/haul. The off-road mode can be useful on occasion because it provides extra torque to the rear wheels.
In the Toyota, the standard models have traditional all-wheel-drive systems while the hybrids can come with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive. Some trims can have an advanced system that's called dynamic torque vectoring AWD. With this feature in place, the engine can decide to send more power to a specific rear wheel if necessary to improve off-roading capability and help with cornering. This differs from a system in which the rear wheels will always get the same amount of power, even if one is having more difficulty gripping the road than the other is.
The final point regarding the respective powertrains in the Traverse and Highlander will be regarding their warranties. The two companies have actually come up with the same terms for their powertrain warranties, which are good for 60 months or 60,000 miles.
Given their respectable capabilities, the Chevy Traverse and Toyota Highlander are a pleasure to drive. In either model, someone can confidently take the wheel. The size of these SUVs may be on the larger side, but they can still be easily maneuvered.
The Chevy Traverse has an overall length of 204.3 inches, and it's about 79 inches wide. It has a fairly good height, and it sits 7.51 inches off the ground. The Highlander isn't as big as the Traverse is. It has an overall length of approximately 195 inches and a width of 76 inches. It has a ground clearance of eight inches, so it may be able to better clear obstacles than the Traverse can.
Up to eight people can fit inside either of these SUVs if they're equipped with bench seats in their middle rows. Otherwise, they would have two captain's chairs in their second rows, and this would decrease total seating capacity by one.
Leg room in the Traverse is 41, 38.4, and 33.5 inches in the first, second, and third rows, respectively. The Highlander has 42 inches of leg room in the front and 41 inches of leg room in the second row. However, it only has 27.7 inches of leg room in its third row. This will likely be an issue if people are planning on having taller teens or adults sit in the back.
Likewise, cargo capacity in the Highlander is less than that of the Traverse. In the Toyota, the rear cargo area is fairly small, with a volume of 16 cubic feet. When all the rear seats have been lowered, cargo capacity is 84.3 cubic feet. The rear cargo area in the Traverse has a volume of 23 cubic feet. When all of its rear seats are folded down, cargo capacity increases to 98.2 cubic feet. This is a generous amount of space that can accommodate so much.
At this point, this guide will shift gears to review the infotainment systems in the Traverse and the Highlander. With modern vehicles, technology can be very important and can contribute to the driving experience. In this department, the Toyota Highlander is the winner of the matchup. This is because it has a standard eight-inch touchscreen and can have a 12.3-inch touchscreen. In contrast, the Traverse comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen, and its higher trims can have eight-inch touchscreens.
On either model, the basic package includes Bluetooth, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Toyota also has Amazon Alexa and SiriusXM on every one of its trims. SiriusXM is only an option on the Traverse. With the larger touchscreens in each of the SUVs, there would be integrated navigation as well. This can be so useful when trying to find new places and/or trying to find the most efficient route around town that avoids traffic. Higher trims of the Traverse can be set up with a set of 10 Bose speakers, and the enhanced sound system on the Highlander can have 11 JBL speakers.
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When only looking at their safety packages, the Toyota Highlander is the more attractive of the two models. It has many driver-assist systems in addition to all of the standard components, like airbags, three-point seatbelts in every seating position, and anti-lock brakes.
The driver-assist technology in the Toyota is part of a package called Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+. It's really impressive because it can actively watch out for problems, alert drivers to problematic situations, and help drivers take corrective measures. One of the systems is pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, and it can reduce the chances of accidentally hitting another vehicle or person in the Highlander's path. Every Highlander also comes with adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane tracing, the ability to "read" road signs, and automatic high beams. Drivers can appreciate that, if necessary, their Highlanders can correct their steering or adjust their speed, turn on or off their bright lights, and remind them of road signs. A premium trim of the Highlander could even take an active role when parking to make sure no fender benders occur.
It's a pretty big contrast with the Chevy Traverse. Yes, it does have the standard components that are ready to take action in the event of an accident, like multiple airbags, three-point seatbelts, and it can even have many of the driver-assist technologies described above. However, several of its lower trims do not have these advanced systems. Considering the widespread availability of these types of driver-assist features in the current market, potential customers are likely to notice this lack of safety systems.
That being said, the mid-level and higher trims of the Traverse do have several high-quality safety features. They have automatic emergency braking to reduce the chances of frontal collisions, and this system works together with the following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, and forward collision alert. Other components are lane change alert with blind zone monitoring, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is only offered with the most sophisticated trim.
Higher trims of both models have 360-degree cameras. In the Highlander, it's called a Bird's Eye View Camera, and it's called Surround Vision in the Traverse. They use multiple cameras to stitch together a complete image of the SUV and the surrounding objects.
Which Has the Best Value?
The Traverse starts at $30,995, and the Highlander starts at $34,910. This is a fairly large price discrepancy. If someone is looking at these two models and is more concerned about price than technology or the extra safety components that the Highlander has, then the Traverse will certainly stand out more.
In both lineups, the mid-level trims come with many advantages. For instance, they could have more comprehensive infotainment systems and higher quality safety elements. They could also have leather or synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated steering wheels, and power-adjustable front seats. Since there are seven trims of the Traverse and 10 trims of the Highlander, it can be hard to do a head-to-head matchup at each level. In general, though, the Highlander is going to priced a bit higher than the Traverse is, but this may be associated with having slightly more convenient and upscale amenities.
The most expensive Highlander is the Hybrid Platinum, and it costs $48,465. Interestingly, the High Country trim of the Traverse costs more than that, with a starting price of $52,095. The High Country's highlights include a two-panel sunroof,
perforated leather seats, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated captain's chairs in the second row. The Hybrid Platinum trim of the Highlander treats people to a panoramic moonroof, 12.3-inch touchscreen, leather seats with heating and ventilation in the front row, a heated second row with captain's chairs, and a head-up display.
Which is Better?
These vehicles share many of the same qualities, but they do differ in a few important ways. First of all, the Toyota Highlander is the more efficient SUV. It has the hybrid option, and even its standard powertrain outperforms that of the Traverse in terms of efficiency. In contrast, the Traverse the more powerful SUV by a slight margin.
Another area in which the Highlander wins this battle has to do with technology. It has the nicer infotainment package, both in terms of the standard and available components, and for many people, it can be exciting to have a large touchscreen. Technology factors heavily into the safety package of the Toyota Highlander, which is far superior to what the Traverse offers.
The Traverse will still get a lot of attention because of its size. It has a much more comfortable third row, making it more practical for many buyers. Its overall cargo capacity is greater than what's found in the Highlander, too. Also, the Traverse starts out with the cheaper price, and this may really help boost its popularity. Its higher trims aren't as affordable, but they do have many features that justify their increased prices.
A potential customer will have to look closely at his/her budget to determine which model and which trim would be a smart purchase. After that, that buyer will have to decide what's more important, affordability and size or efficiency and technology?