2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Chevy Traverse

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  • 2023 Ford Explorer

    A black 2023 Ford Explorer Platinum is angled left.

    Starting at

    $36,760[a]

    2023 Chevy Traverse

    A grey 2023 Chevy Traverse Premier is angled right.

    Starting at

    $34,520

    300-400Horsepower (hp)310
    10.1Screen Size (in)8
    27Fuel Economy (mpg)21

    While small and compact crossover models might work for some people, for many of us, the best expression of an SUV is a large vehicle with three rows of seating. Choosing the right three-row SUV can be tricky, however, which is why it helps to take your time to compare different models and see what each has to offer. Looking at the 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Chevy Traverse, we can see that they have quite a lot in common, such as spacious interiors with plenty of room for passengers and impressive towing capabilities. However, once you start to look at the specifics in greater detail, then it quickly becomes clear that the Explorer gives you much more to enjoy in your vehicle.

    Looking at the engines, the Chevy Traverse has a single option available: a 3.6L V6 that delivers 310 hp with a nine-speed automatic transmission. That is a good amount of power for this kind of SUV, but it cannot keep up with the three different engines available for the Ford Explorer. The Explorer’s standard engine delivers significantly more torque, which is great for such a large vehicle. There is also an available EcoBoost Turbo V6 that provides 400 hp and an available hybrid V6 with 318 hp and incredible fuel efficiency. The fact that these impressive Ford engines are also paired with a 10-speed automatic for a smoother, more responsive driving experience is the icing on the cake.

    Beyond the engines, the Ford Explorer also comes out on top with fantastic features and options inside and out. You have more trim levels to choose from with the Explorer than with the Traverse, and these trims give you superior options to get just what you need. The Explorer Timberline, as an example, is a fantastic model that has impressive off-road features like standard four-wheel drive (4WD) and steel skid plates that protect its underbody—the Traverse not only has fewer options but there is no off-road model available. Combine this with the fact that the Ford Explorer comes with a standard 10.1-inch infotainment display compared to Chevy’s available eight-inch screen, and you can clearly see which is superior.

  • Performance

    A silver 2023 Ford Explorer is shown parallel parking during a 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Chevy Traverse comparison.

    Power and Efficiency

    It can be tempting to assume that a powerful engine is only important with a sports car or a big truck, but that is a mistake. After all, a large SUV like these two has a great deal in common with a full-size truck, so you need an engine that delivers just as much power as you would expect in a pickup. In this regard, the 2023 Chevy Traverse does a decent job since it has an engine with reliable power. The problem, however, is that it is the only engine available, and its torque is sadly underwhelming.

    The Traverse is powered by a 3.6L V6 engine that offers 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. We can immediately see how this engine holds up when we compare it to the Ford Explorer’s standard 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo I-4 engine that provides 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This is slightly less horsepower but substantially more torque, and you can really feel that difference. For tremendous power, the Explorer has an available 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6 engine that delivers a massive 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, giving you far greater performance than the Traverse. The fact that all the Ford engines come with a 10-speed automatic makes it clear how much nicer the Explorer is to drive.

    Power is not everything, however, and large SUVs like these two models have been notorious for poor fuel economy. The Traverse is true to form, getting an estimated 18 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway for 21 MPG combined. By comparison, the standard engine in the Explorer gets an estimated 21 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway for 24 MPG combined. This is a great start, but if you really want efficient performance, then Ford offers an available 3.3L Hybrid V6 engine with 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain gets an estimated 27 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway for 27 MPG combined, letting you go much further without stopping for gas.

  • Options

    A red 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown parked in a driveway.

    A Variety of Options

    One of the best things about buying a new vehicle is being able to choose from a variety of available options to get just what you want. The trim levels offered for a model can make it a lot easier to get the right combination of features and even give you access to certain things that you cannot get on other models. Although both the Explorer and Traverse are available in a number of trims, Ford offers you more options, and they are better developed.

    The 2023 Chevy Traverse is offered in six different trim levels, although two of them are very similar. You have the LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier, and High Country. You can find some interesting differences from one trim level to the next, and they do a good job of building on each other, but there is not much variety beyond that. While the RS has some stylish touches, like dark-painted aluminum wheels, the Premier has nicer features, with the High Country topping things off with the best overall experience.

    With the 2023 Ford Explorer, you have eight different trim levels available, giving you more options, and there are more meaningful decisions to make when looking at them. For example, the Timberline trim is much more than simply a lower trim with a few extra comfort features; with the Timberline, you get an Explorer with off-road engineering, including a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, steel underbody skid plates, and Intelligent 4WD with Ford’s Terrain Management System for superior traction. On the other hand, the remarkable Explorer ST comes with a 400 hp Turbo V6 engine, a unique sport-tuned independent front and rear suspension, and even a complimentary trip to the Ford Performance ST SUV Experience driving school to learn how to get the most from your powerful SUV. There is nothing like this available with the Chevy Traverse, and it reveals just how dedicated Ford is to delivering a superior experience.

  • Features

    A person is shown using the infotainment screen in a 2023 Ford Explorer.

    Technology and Comfort

    Since most of your time with your vehicle will be spent in the cabin, you should always consider the technology and comfort features you can find within it. The 2023 Chevy Traverse, for example, has a seven-inch display standard, a six-speaker sound system, and cloth seats. A six-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat and two-way manual front-passenger seat are standard, along with a urethane steering wheel and a 3.5-inch driver information display. Looking at the High Country trim, there are some notable improvements, including an eight-inch infotainment display, a 10-speaker sound system, and leather-appointed seating. But even with these upgrades, there still is some clear room for improvement.

    The 2023 Ford Explorer has some of the most impressive standard and available features we have ever seen, starting with a stunning 10.1-inch infotainment display in every model. This not only blows away the standard screen in the Traverse but even the available option found in its top trim. You get a standard 4.2-inch color productivity screen in the instrument cluster, along with tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control, cloth seating, and an eight-way power driver’s seat with a four-way manual front passenger seat. Looking at the highest trim for the Explorer, things get even more remarkable. The Explorer Platinum includes a wireless charging pad, a 12.3-inch digital productivity screen in the instrument panel, a 12-speaker B&O sound system—with a 14-speaker system available—and perforated leather seating with a 10-way power driver’s seat and eight-way power passenger seat. In the end, the Traverse is fine, but it simply cannot compete with what Ford has packed into the Explorer.

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