A black 2023 Chevy Traverse Midnight Edition is shown driving on a road after winning a 2023 Chevy Traverse vs 2023 Ford Explorer comparison.

An SUV That Is As Flexible As Your Life: The Chevy Traverse Vs. the Ford Explorer

If you’re out looking for a new SUV, one of the most important attributes you’ll be looking for is versatility. Whether you’re bringing the whole family along on a cross-country road trip, hauling lumber for an at-home DIY project, or just bringing a big bundle of groceries home, you want a vehicle you can rely on. When it comes to this kind of flexible, dependable vehicle, two big names you’ll see put head-to-head are the 2023 Chevy Traverse vs 2023 Ford Explorer. But which of these standout midsize SUVs will best fit your unique driving needs?

The Chevy Traverse offers a larger engine and more cargo space, though you may prefer the Ford Explorer if you need a little extra towing capacity, offering up to 5,600 lbs of maximum towing when properly equipped, compared to the Traverse’s 5,000 lb capacity. When choosing between the Chevy Traverse and the Ford Explorer, there are many factors to consider. Below, we’ll break down some of the most important factors in choosing an SUV: driver experience, safety, and the power the engine can produce (and what that might mean for your towing needs).

A white 2023 Ford Explorer is shown parked on a dock.

Both Have An Array of Comfort and Convenience Features

Any SUV needs to keep you and your passengers safe, but they also need to keep you and your passengers comfortable. Both the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Ford Explorer offer comfortable cloth seating and a third row with power-folding technology. Power-folding seats are the game changers for SUVs, allowing you to customize your trips to prioritize more cargo space or seats for passengers.

The 2023 Ford Explorer also includes a feature called Active Motion, which provides the driver and front passenger some added comfort on long trips. These Active Motion seats include upper and lower back massage options that can keep you feeling fresh and relaxed even when the roads get bumpy. The Explorer can only handle seven passengers, while the 2023 Chevy Traverse can comfortably seat up to eight. While a one-seat difference may not seem important, it can make a world of difference on long trips when you have a big group of friends or family wanting to travel together.

But as we all know, it’s not just the seats that make up the driver experience. The entire SUV should cater to you and your needs. The Ford Explorer has some nice perks, including multi-color interior lighting to create the perfect ambiance for your trip, as well as a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen display when compared to the Traverse’s available 8-inch screen. The 2023 Chevy Traverse, on the other hand, has a bit more functionality in its features. It includes more storage options for you and your passengers in ideal spots to avoid getting in your way, such as behind the touchscreen display or in a rear floor compartment. This can be a crucial enhancement for larger families with kids.

What takes the Traverse over the top for us is the easy-to-move second-row seating, which, combined with its eighth seat, only makes it easier to carry more passengers, with a seating design that makes it easy to get in and out of. On top of this versatility, the Traverse offers an available hands-free power liftgate, perfect for when your hands are full of groceries or the kids’ sports equipment.

We were sad to see the Ford Explorer remove this helpful hands-free feature, as it can be a real saving grace for those with children. While the Ford Explorer has some flashy features that will no doubt make for a fun trip, we give the edge to the Chevy Traverse, which has more comfort and convenience features that actively make your life easier than the Explorer does.

The black interior and dash of a 2023 Chevy Traverse is shown.

The Traverse’s Safety Edge Over the Explorer

Driving an SUV can be a lot of fun, but its most important ability is to keep you safe. Luckily, you’ll be safe and sound in either of these great vehicles; however, it’s crucial to understand the exact safety features of each option so you can choose the SUV that suits you and your passengers best.

Both the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Ford Explorer offer their own set of safety and driver assistance features, known as Chevy Safety Assist and Ford Co-Pilot360, respectively, which includes a rearview camera that makes backing out of your driveway or reversing into a parking spot an anxiety-free activity. They also include lane-keeping systems and collision mitigation tools that will keep your SUV on alert at all times.

No more knocking over garbage cans or accidentally clipping the rumble strips on the highway! The Traverse and Explorer will give you the confidence you’re looking for during your daily travels. While both models come equipped with great protections, the Traverse edges out the Explore with a few innovative tools, most notably, Chevy’s Teen Driver technology.

Chevy’s inventive Teen Driver technology puts the control into the hands of parents when handing over the keys to their newly-licensed teen by offering a number of customizable drive settings to help encourage good driving habits. With Teen Driver, parents can control aspects of the vehicle, like speed limit and radio volume, to ensure their child is handling the Chevy vehicle in a safe manner.

On top of that, parents can also get an in-vehicle report card so they can stay informed on how their child performed on the road. Much like the aforementioned comfort and convenience features, Chevy has gone to great lengths to provide a safe and reliable vehicle that parents are sure to appreciate, whether they have toddlers in the back seat or they’re handing off the keys to their new teen driver for the first time.

A blue 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown driving on a highway.

A Look at Performance, Fuel Economy, and Towing Power

For those who care about what’s under the hood, the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Ford Explorer boast impressive engine capabilities. The Traverse offers a sole engine option; a 3.6L V6, producing 310 hp and 266 lb-ft and getting an estimated 18 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. The Explorer, on the other hand, offers two options; a turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine capable of 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0L V6, giving you 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Both options offer similar fuel economy, while the 3.3L Hybrid V6 option gives you 318 hp and 322 lb-ft, and an impressive 27 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway.

In terms of towing power, the Ford Explorer has a 600 lb advantage, with its maximum towing capacity of 5,600 lbs when properly equipped, while the Traverse can pull up to 5,000 lbs. This may not seem like much of a difference, as both can tow 5,000 lbs; however, if you plan on towing items like a trailer or jet skis for those summer getaways with the family, the Explorer may be what you’re looking for.

Another minor advantage the Ford Explorer has is a 10-speed automatic transmission versus the 9-speed transmission of the Chevy Traverse. For most of us, it is just another gear of speed that most of us won’t use or notice. If you’re looking for an SUV with the utmost power, you may find that the 2023 Ford Explorer has an edge over the 2023 Chevy Traverse, but you can’t go wrong with either option.

The Traverse Is an SUV That Is as Versatile as Your Daily Life

After reviewing the 2023 Ford Explorer and the 2023 Chevy Traverse, we hope you have a clearer understanding of which SUV is best for you and your family. Both SUVs seek to make driving as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The 2023 Chevy Traverse and 2023 Ford Explorer are each capable of providing a stellar driving experience, but we value the functionality of the Chevy Traverse over the flash of the Ford Explorer. Safety is another near-tie, as both the Traverse and the Explorer will keep you as safe as any SUV can, but we really loved the Teen Driver feature unique to the Chevy Traverse. In terms of pure driving power, the Ford Explorer wins by a narrow margin, though the results are close enough to be up to personal preference.

As mentioned above, both the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Ford Explorer are capable SUVs with plenty of exciting features, but we found through our research that the 2023 Chevrolet Traverse has more of what you may need; more seats, more safety features, and overall, more to love!