2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Chevy Traverse – Albany, NY

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  • 2020 Ford Explorer

    A grey 2020 Ford Explorer is facing left.

    Starting at

    $36,675

    2020 Chevy Traverse

    A silver 2020 Chevy Traverse is facing right.

    Starting at

    $29,800

    27 / 29 MPGFuel Economy 18 / 27 MPG
    300 - 400 HPHorsepower310 HP
    5,600 LBSTowing Capacity5,000 LBS

    The midsize SUV market is loaded with options. So if you're searching for the perfect small family SUV that's built for cargo and for your outdoor adventures, you'll need to take a deep dive into what each make has to offer. Two of the best selling SUVs in the U.S. are the Ford Explorer and the Chevy Traverse. But which of the two SUVs comes out on top and is right for you? The best way to figure this out is to make a direct comparison with the 2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Chevy Traverse. From price to towing and engine performance, one will come out on top.

    With a number of trims available, both the 2020 Ford Explorer and the 2020 Chevy Traverse can vary significantly in price point. Beyond the trims and added packages, the drivetrain also plays a major role in how much you'll pay for the vehicles. For the Explorer, each trim comes with rear-wheel drive and the option to upgrade to four-wheel drive.

    On the base RWD package, the 2020 Ford Explorer has an initial MSRP of $36,675. As for the base on the 2020 Chevy Traverse, it comes in with a starting MSRP of $29,800. This is a good bit lower with the base model Explorer, but there are a number of key differences you'll want to look into when comparing the features of the two SUVs.

    As is the case for most other vehicles made by Ford, the top-tier trim package is the Platinum. This 4WD option has a starting MSRP of $58,535. On the flip side, the top-tier trim package for the 2020 Chevy Traverse is the AWD High Country, with an initial MSRP of $52,095.

  • Performance

    A blue 2020 Ford Explorer, which wins when comparing the 2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Chevy Traverse, is towing an Airstream on a treelined road near Albany, NY.

    This is important enough to point out as both the Explorer and the Traverse use different drivetrains. The base trim of the Explorer uses rear-wheel drive (RWD) while the base trim of the Traverse utilizes front-wheel drive (FWD). Likewise, the upgraded trims for the Explorer have four-wheel drive (4WD), while the Traverse uses all-wheel drive (AWD). So what exactly is the difference?

    FWD vs RWD

    With front-wheel drive, the front wheels control both the accelerating and the braking. Typically most of the weight is on the front-end of the vehicle, so in general, FWD vehicles see a slight improvement with fuel economy. However, FWD can suffer from drive torque, where the vehicle might pull one way or the other when you accelerate. With RWD, the rear wheels control the acceleration while the front is used for turning. This prevents the kind of drive torque that might pull you in one direction or the other. RWD is also beneficial if you're going to be towing anything (it's why almost all base truck packages are RWD and not FWD).

    AWD vs 4WD

    When comparing AWD with 4WD, it basically comes down to this: 4WD is a more robust version of AWD. AWD is good for handling winter conditions, slick roads, and other issues you might find during daily driving. 4WD, on the other hand, is designed to handle more rugged roads and terrains.

    So while AWD is perfectly capable for most highway driving, when you want to haul the trailer off the beaten path, when you need to haul a trailer off-road, or when you find yourself navigating rocky terrain, the Explorer and its 4WD is vastly superior.

    What's Under the Hood?

    The engine is truly the lifeblood of your SUV. It helps you navigate through traffic and tow a boat up to the lake. It gives you the kind of horsepower and torque for all of your activities, so you will likely want a powerful engine that can deliver for the size of the SUV.

    The Ford Explorer base features an intercooled Turbo 2.3L EcoBoost I4 engine. This turbocharged engine is able to put out an impressive 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the base 2020 Chevy Traverse uses a larger but non-turbo 3.6L V6. While the horsepower is similar here at 310, the torque takes a sizeable dip down to 266 lb-ft, which will ultimately affects the towing potential for the model.

    Other Engine Choices

    Beginning with the ST trim on the Ford Explorer the 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine comes standard. This engine takes performance up another notch to 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. However, the Chevy Traverse falls flat here. It comes with only the one engine option, even when you spring for the AWD High Country trim.

    This means the smallest base engine on the Ford Explorer is able to outperform what you find on the top-tier trim on the Traverse. You'll end up paying far more for the Chevy and still won't match what the least expensive Explorer provides.

    On top of this, if you want to chip away at the fuel consumption, the 2020 Ford Explorer also has a hybrid engine. When it comes to performance, the Chevy Traverse simply can't compete.

  • Towing and Cargo Space

    The trunk area behind the third row seats of a 2020 Ford Explorer has football gear in it.

    Which Can Tow More: The Traverse or the Explorer?

    When you want to tow a small trailer, camper, boat, or other gear, you'll want an SUV that gives you maximum towing potential. On the 2020 Ford Explorer, you can tow up to 5,600 pounds worth of gear. With the 2020 Chevy Traverse, you can tow only up to 5,000 pounds. So the more powerful engines on the Explorer are not only more fuel-efficient and provide more torque, but can tow up to 600 pounds more. Even if you spring for the Hybrid option, you will still have the towing capacity to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

    Cargo Capacity

    As for cargo space, when you have all seats upright, you will have 18.2 cubic feet of cargo volume in the Ford Explorer. If you were to fold down the back seat, this boosts to 47.9 cubic feet, and if you folded down the middle row, you'd increase cargo volume to 87.8 cubic feet. The Chevy Traverse does provide a bit more in the way of internal cargo space. With all seats up, you will have 23 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 57.8 cubic feet when you fold down the back row. Fold-down the middle row as well, and the cargo space increases to 98.2 cubic feet.

  • Safety Features

    A white 2020 Ford Explorer is parked in the woods next to a remote cabin.

    One of the reasons you've decided to check out a larger SUV is probably because of safety. You're higher off the ground, putting you further from harm's way. Of course, both the Explorer and Traverse come with a number of exceptional safety features as well.

    Standard Safety Features

    On the base Ford Explorer, it comes standard with driver, front head, front side, passenger, and rear head airbags. It uses four-wheel ABS and disc brakes, plus brake assist, lane-keeping assist, electronic stability control, child safety locks, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, daytime running lights, lane departure warning, and traction control.

    The bigger issue with Chevy is you need to pay for the upgrades and the upper-tier trims to actually receive the safety features. You'll find this to be the case because while the base Traverse offers the same brakes and airbags, the standard safety features are traction control, daytime running lights, child safety locks, and electronic stability control. If you want safety on a Chevy, you'll almost always need to go for an upgraded trim.

    Top Safety Features

    On the fully upgraded Ford Explorer, you have the same safety features, plus integrated turn signal mirrors. With the High Country Traverse, you finally land the improved safety features such as brake assist, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, integrated turn signal mirrors, daytime running lights, traction control, and lane departure warning.

    So Ford once again tops the list with standard safety features. On the Chevy, you're forced to pay extra for safety.

  • Entertainment

    The front tan leather interior of a 2020 Explorer is shown with a large infotinament system.

    Keeping You Entertained

    Ford wants to keep you entertained in your Explorer, even in the base model. This is why it includes AM/FM stereo, AUX input, satellite radio, smart device integration via Bluetooth, and a WiFi hotspot all as standard features (activation required for WiFi and satellite radio). On the Chevy Traverse, it comes standard with all the same features except satellite radio.

    Top Features

    With the top-tier trim, Ford packs a bunch of features into its Ford SYNC infotainment system. Beyond the base features, it includes HD radio, an optional entertainment system, plus a premium sound system. The Traverse adds in satellite radio into its High Country package. It also has an optional entertainment system and premium sound system, but it does not offer HD radio. Both Ford and Chevy systems work with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

    The premium audio system on the Ford Explorer is a B&O by Bang & Olufsen with 12 speakers on the Limited, ST, and Platinum trims; this system can be upgraded to a 14-speaker system on the ST and Platinum trims. As for the Traverse? The premium audio system is a ten speaker Bose system that is standard only on the High Country and the Premier trims and is there is no option to upgrade it further.

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