2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Chevrolet Traverse
By Jakob Hansen,
Large SUV's are what your family needs. Will Ford or Chevrolet fulfill what you are looking for?
Ford and Chevrolet are two of the top manufacture in the game. When they directly compete, it's similar to when the two best professional teams play each other. Both have their loyal fans, standing behind them no matter what the outcome and both have their haters that will call out every fault they can see. In the middle, you have the people that aren’t loyal to any team, and just know it’s going to be a hell of a game to watch.
Ford and Chevrolet are two of the best organizations with the longest rivalry. We’re taking Patriots vs Bills, Lakers vs Celtic, Red Wings vs Avalanche, the list goes on. Regardless of what your view is or who you think is the best, these are two manufacturers that make the best cars around and are directly competitive with each other down to the lowest and highest level.
When it comes to rivalries, we tend to think of the exciting stuff, Mustang vs Camaro for example, but truth be told, the real rivalry is where the sales are at., Right now, large SUV’s are where the sales are at. Last year, large SUV’s accounted for the majority of sales in the US, with Chevy and Ford being at the top of the list.
Large third row SUV’s are the cream of the crop for automakers. Customers are needing more and more space and are moving further and further from minivans. Chevy and Ford are industry leaders have some of the top SUV’s available on the market today. How do they match up against each other?
Technology is clearly one of the most important factors in vehicles today. The tech industry has completely changed the game for the automotive world and an entirely new collection of features have now become available on standard economical cars. In these family SUV’s, technology is not only a significant factor of comfort and convenience but can also be the difference between life and death.
The Ford Explorer has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. The Ford Explorer has a full driver assist suite to help make driving easier and safer. To start, Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard across all Explorer models. This includes Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot monitoring with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, rearview camera, and automatic headlamps with auto high-beams. These are technologies that previously were only available on top trim level vehicles. Further, Active Park Assist 2.0 makes it possible to parallel or perpendicular park at the touch of a button, with no input from the driver whatsoever.
Other technologies included are FordPass Connect, which provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices, a massive 10.1-inch portrait-oriented touch screen in the center council that has split screen capabilities. Also wireless charging, a 980-watt Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker sound system, capacitive touch glass on the infotainment system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster that displays speedometer, gauges, and 3D graphics along with a “Calm Screen” that eliminates all clutter and non-crucial information.
The Chevrolet Traverse is equally loaded, though its design is slightly behind the Fords. As far as safety goes, it has all the same features, including Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Detection, and IntelliBeam headlamps. Unfortunately, unlike the Ford Explorer, these are not all standard features, and therefore, demand a premium to get the same safety features.
A great feature on the Chevrolet is the Rear Camera Mirror. The rearview mirror doubles as a mirror and a video screen, displaying a wider, less obstructed view of the rear and side of the vehicle from a roof-mounted camera. The camera can be slightly off-putting at first, but after a short period your eyes adjust and the added visibility becomes extremely helpful. The 360-degree camera also provides a bird’s eye view of the Traverse and it’s surroundings, making tight maneuvers easier than ever. Other Chevrolet specific technologies include Teen Driver, which automatically turns on all safety features, mutes media until all seatbelts are buckled and provides an in-vehicle report on driving habits such as hard acceleration or brake, wide open throttle inputs and more. Selectable drive modes are also available to adjust to any surface type and provide optimal traction at all times. Not to mention the additional technologies like 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Rear Sear Reminder, and the integration of the myChevrolet Mobil App.
The updated 2020 Explorer is clearly a more modern vehicle, as it was designed new for this model year. Even though the updated Traverse was released only two years ago, technology changes quickly in this modern world and the 2020 Traverse is starting to show its age already. That being said both vehicles are packed with technology that would put a NASA probe to shame.
The unique drivetrain of these vehicles adds to the interest of this comparison. While both vehicles have a similar layout, the drivetrains clearly have different focuses between the two vehicles.
Ford has built a completely new platform called the CD6 platform. Supporting the Ford Explorer and the new Lincoln Aviator, it’s based on a rear-wheel drive biased set-up. The rear-wheel-drive architecture supports a sportier and more engaging driving experience, while the Intelligent 4WD keeps you glued to the road in any weather or terrain.
Ford also has several updated engine platforms to complement the new drivetrain. The 2.3L EcoBoost 4 cylinder has been updated to produce an impressive 300 horsepower. The 3.0L EcoBoost V6 has two variants, producing an ample 365 horsepower in the Limited and Platinum trims and 400 horsepower in the ST trim. Further, a new 3.3L Hybrid V6 is now available as well to get the best of both power and efficiency. The chassis was designed around the hybrid platform, and therefore no cabin space or cargo capacity is lost in the more efficient trim line.
The Chevrolet Traverse rides on the C1XX platform. The C1XX platform supports some great vehicles like the Cadillac XT5, XT6, GMC Acadia, and several others. It is a superb platform that provides excellent comfortability and on-road performance. With the Traverse, the platform proves its worth and provides an extremely comfortable, and enjoyable drive. The difference lies when you want to push the vehicle slightly harder. The Explorer has a sportier feel (particularly in the Explorer ST) and remains more composed when pushed hard. Not everyone is trying to push the limits of physics in their third-row SUV, however. And for daily driving and putzing around town, the Traverse is an extremely comfortable and composed ride.
Power comes from a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder and a 3.6L V6, producing 257 and 310 horsepower respectively. While this is ample power for the drivetrain, customers looking for more than ample power, are left to look elsewhere. The all-wheel drive system, however, is another topic entirely. The twin-clutch rear differential separates power more efficiently without the traction control system intervening to prevent wheel spin.
Overall, the Ford Explorer is more sport focused and creates and more engaging and fun SUV to boot. While the Traverse is no slouch with 310 horsepower, it can't compete with Ford’s twin turbo power.
Disclaimer: As an automotive journalist, it can be difficult to separate my love for speed, power, and fun from a practical viewpoint of vehicles. Both vehicles are extremely comfortable and ride better than most other large SUV’s on the market today. My inherent focus on “sport” rather than real-world reliability can sometimes stand in the way. That being said, both manufacturers have superbly designed vehicles that provide the highest quality driving experience.
There are many factors that go into car shopping that aren't easily described. Features like towing capacity and cargo room are easily quantifiable data points, however, there are other factors that are not as easily defined.
To start, let’s lay down some of the quantifiable data points. The 2020 Ford Explorer towing capacity is 5,600 pounds. Comparatively, the 2020 Chevorelt Traverse towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. Explorer has seating for seven, while Traverse has seating for up to 8. Ford Explorer cargo capacity is 87.8 cubic feet, Chevrolet Traverse cargo capacity is a whopping 98.2 cubic feet.
Now that we have the important data laid out, let focus on the facts that numbers can’t justify. Living with a vehicle, especially one when you have a family, has its challenges. Getting into the third row, for example. In some vehicles, you have to be an acrobat just to wiggle your body through the convoluted rows. The Chevrolet Traverse has Enhanced Smart Slide second-row seats that make ingress and egress easier than ever. Ford does have captains seats as standard in the Explorer, while the Traverse has a standard second row bench.
According to Ford’s press release, they were “obsessed about what Explorer customers want” during the development process and “met with customer groups, pored through internet forums, and dissected social media posts to determine what they love about today’s Explorer and understand their pain points.” This led to ideas such as the verticle infotainment screen and the tech-heavy interior. Power fold third row and a wide enough entry to fit standard four-foot building materials like drywall and plywood. These are the type of ingenuity it takes to create the most user-friendly third-row SUV available. Chevy also got smart and installed USB chargers in every row, along with automatic heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control and keyless open and start on all trim levels.
Sometimes it’s the things you don't see that really make the difference.
These two SUV’s are the champions of the industry. They have been around for some time now and have carved out a name for themselves as some of the best in the business. Choosing between them can be a challenging undertaking. Even if you are a diehard Ford or Chevy fan, the opposite vehicle is an appealing proposition.
Look over the details of each vehicle, but truthfully, the best way to judge is to go try them both for yourself. Your butt dyno is the best review you can ever have.