When shopping for an SUV, an uneducated buyer might assume that they are all the same. But when comparison shopping, an educated buyer looks very closely when deciding which vehicles are the best. The type of things these buyers look for: horsepower, cargo room, and fuel economy are top of the list. It’s also common for car buyers to opt for the car that has style as well as substance. When comparing the two, it might seem that the 2018 Ford Explorer vs. 2018 Chevy Traverse are neck and neck. However, closely compared, the Explorer often seems like the better option. Price point is the conclusion most buyers come to. When making the final decision, there is a matter of thousands of dollars to consider between a base model with many amenities and a top-of-the-line trim with the same qualities as the lesser vehicle.
2019 Model Update!:
Hi there! If you’re reading this in 2018, then you’re some kind of time-traveling ninja (I assume the first time travelers will be ninjas—their training in stealth and combat will let them survive when they accidentally end up in the later Cretaceous Period and have to deal with the occasional Tyrannosaurus Rex). On the other hand, you’re probably reading this in 2019 and wondering if the differences and strengths of last year’s models still hold true this year.
In general, yes the points made below are similar when comparing one vehicle to the other, but there are some big differences this year that need to be considered. There have been some updates and changes in the 2019 Ford Explorer and 2019 Chevy Traverse that I will go into in some detail below. But for the most part, the Ford Explorer still comes out on top as one of the very best mid-size SUVs on the market. Just look for the 2019 Update tags as you go to see these differences for yourself…
2018 Ford Explorer
The first important thing to note is that the 2018 Ford Explorer, the V-6 engine comes standard. This provides the power and pick up that many SUV owners crave. This engine has a very high EPA-rating as well, for those who are fuel-economy conscious. An SUV is powerful enough with just a V-6, but if buyers want to, they can upgrade to have the option of the twin-turbocharged engines in the Sport and Platinum models and are thrilled with the amount of acceleration now possible. This speed and acceleration is due to the 290 horsepower available and allows for an exciting amount of torque: 255 lb-ft! This is great for hauling and off-roading alike, which is something many SUV owners require.
Those engines last year were great, but they don’t really hold a candle to what is available now. The standard 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 engine in the 2019 Ford Explorer provides up to 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. Yes, that’s the standard! You can upgrade that to a 2.3L EcoBoost engine that offers up to 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque while also offering an impressive estimated 19/27 mpg in the city and highway.
Where the 2019 Ford Explorer really blows away the competition is with its other available engine—oh yes, there are three engines to choose from this year. The pinnacle of performance comes from an available 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine that offers up to 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque for incredible overall acceleration. Now honestly: just having three engines to choose from already makes the Ford Explorer a winner in my book. But those numbers are huge for an SUV—that’s the kind of horsepower and torque you would expect to see in a light-duty pickup truck, and even beats what you can find standard in some heavy-duty models.
2018 Chevy Traverse
Buyers of this model will be excited to learn that the 2018 Chevy Traverse does have standard all-wheel drive, but they have the get The High Country version. Still this option on an SUV can usually run another $2000. The High Country is the trim that most buyers will want to opt for, because it makes buying a Traverse worth the investment. Still, with AWD, testers were tentative to drive it off-road, citing the vehicle didn’t seem fit for it. The engine is quiet however, they noted when testing it on-road and it can get up to 70 mph reasonably quickly.
So how has a year of experience and development helped the 2019 Chevy Traverse? Not as significantly as I would have hoped. There is still a High Country trim level that comes with all-wheel drive standard, and AWD is an available option on all but one trim level. That’s nice, though not necessarily as significant as the engine and how it impacts performance.
There is only one engine available for the 2019 Chevy Traverse, which is already a mistake in my book. Even if it’s an amazing engine, the lack of options always hurts. The bad news, however, is that it’s a 3.6L V6 engine that offers up to 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. As you can see, that is pretty comparable to the starting engine in the 2019 Ford Explorer. To be fair, it has 20 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque more than the Explorer’s standard engine, but it doesn’t come close to the far more impressive available engine from Ford.
2018 Ford Explorer
The top-of-the-line Platinum is considered one of the highest quality interiors on the market. The 2018 Ford Explorer interior design was built not just for style but for safety, security and ample amounts of space. These spacious accommodations make for one of the more comfortable rides and testers insist that the rear and front seats are comparable in their level of necessary comfort. The Platinum interior can also boast a massage function in its seating, increasing the level of available comfort the Explorer has to offer. And of the best parts: the legroom and headroom are massive, blowing many of its competitors out of the water. The cargo space and storage rating overall amounts to four stars. You can find the most room behind the third-row seat. Designers wanted to add those little touches, so now there are plenty of bins and cubbies stashed throughout the 2018 Ford Explorer’s interior for all of those small items in tow.
The good news is that the Ford Explorer is still a model of sophistication and luxury all throughout the interior. The Platinum trim level offers first-row heated and cooled seats with active motion massage functionality and a driver’s memory seat. The second-row of seats is heated for extra passenger comfort and there are impressive leather and real-wood accents all throughout the cabin, including the gorgeous steering wheel. There’s an available console for the second-row, as well as second-row bucket seats for additional comfort.
In terms of interior space, the 2019 Ford Explorer is definitely impressive. There is a total of 81 cu.ft. of cargo volume behind the first row, and the first row has up to almost 43 inches of legroom. Second-row passengers have nearly 40 inches of legroom, while folks in the third row have just over 33 inches for their legs. All-in-all, that’s a lot of room for everyone in the vehicle.
2018 Chevy Traverse
The 2018 Chevy Traverse has a wheelbase that’s grown two inches longer than its predecessor. It also saw improvements in width, length, and height. You can tell just by looking at it from the outside that this is a big SUV crossover, one of the biggest. But does that amount to more space? Unfortunately, testers found the third row not to be as accommodating as other models in its class and note that the third seat almost appears as if it was wedged in. And while Chevy boasts that the interior can hold a maximum of seven passengers, at least one of those passengers is bound to not get the maximum amount of comfort. The spacing between the rear seats is simply inadequate compared to the 2018 Explorer.
If you really want that extra space, you would have to swap out the rear seating for an eight-seat configuration, with the three-seat bench in the rear. This requires getting a less luxurious model at a lower trim level that has less equipment and cloth seating.
In some ways, the 2019 Chevy Traverse does show some marked improvements over what the 2018 model had to offer. Chevy has taken a look at legroom in the third row and improved upon it; however, the 2019 Ford Explorer still offers more legroom for the first two rows. The interior, overall, of the Traverse is well designed with options at the highest trim levels for leather details, a memory-enabled driver’s seat and heated seats throughout. Though it lacks the massage feature found in the front seats of the Explorer.
There is a total of about 98 cu.ft. of cargo space inside the Traverse, which is actually quite a lot more than what you can fit inside the Explorer. This is one area where the Traverse does come out on top. In terms of legroom, the first row has up to 41 inches, which offers a couple inches less than the Explorer. The second-row passengers have up to about 38 inches of legroom, while the third-row folks have about 33-inches of legroom. That’s a couple inches less for people in the second-row, compared to the 2019 Ford Explorer, but essentially the same amount of legroom for the third row.
2018 Ford Explorer
The infotainment rating for the 2018 Ford Explorer is 4 stars! That’s because critics and buyers alike are raving amount the new Sync 3 infotainment system. The words they use to describe it are “intuitive” and “snappy.” This system can connect up to 10 devices, with the all-too-necessary 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The huge touchscreen can help you back up with the 180-degree parking camera. It also has an array of apps that can all be activated with voice recognition. It also comes equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Siri Eyes Free. And the navigation system’s maps are fully detailed. The 390-watt, 12-speaker Sony audio system, is only enhanced with available satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Tech features really have not been improved much from last year, since what was available was already so good. Safety features in the 2019 Ford Explorer have never been better, thanks to the Ford Co-Pilot 360 system. This includes things like AdvanceTrac with roll stability control and a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert. There is also adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam headlamps, and a lane keeping system. Not to mention the Platinum trim level features rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, a front 180-degree camera, and enhanced park assist with forward and side-sensing systems.
At the Platinum level, the Explorer also has an all-digital instrument cluster and power-adjustable pedals for an even more impressive driving experience. All throughout the interior, every possible tech option has been considered to make sure the Explorer drives well and performs at its best.
2018 Chevy Traverse
Most versions of the 2018 Chevy Traverse can boast plenty of equipment, and critics recommend investing in the top-trim High Country, which does, in fact, have it all. But the cost is steep to get all that you might require: $52,995. Critics feel this price point should be unnecessary, as many other models have these technological advances standard. They are also displeased with how Traverse tends to cut corners still. Though the Traverse has dual sunroofs the driver is forced to open them manually. Also, many of the interior adjustments that are required for more space can be obtrusive and clunky. A couple of pluses: automatic stop and start is now standard, as well as many active safety features that seem indispensable on other models. Overall the standard 2018 Chevy Traverse lacks many technological features that come standard on the Explorer for almost $20,000 less. There’s no denying that’s a huge factor in making the decision between these two models.
The High Country remains an amazing experience with the 2019 Chevy Traverse; however, it has become even more expensive than it was last year. With that in mind, it includes incredible tech features such as a wireless charging area, 8-point digital compass, and adaptive cruise control. It only has a 4-inch driver information display, which seems lacking considering its massive price tag. The Traverse High Country really should have either a pair of 4-inch driver displays or an all-digital instrument cluster like the 2019 Ford Explorer Platinum.
Safety features on the High Country are quite impressive, including StabiliTrak with electronic stability and traction control, LED daytime running lamps, and rear-park assist. The High Country includes surround vision, which gives the driver a virtual bird’s eye view around the Traverse and a lane change alert with side blind zone alert. There is also lane keep assist with lane departure warning, a forward collision alert, and a front pedestrian braking system.
2018 Ford Explorer vs. 2018 Chevy Traverse – Who Wins?
Overall, it’s clear that across several categories the 2018 Ford Explorer comes out the winner against the 2018 Chevy Traverse. However, if you’re looking to purchase either of these SUVs be sure to see them in person at your local dealership!
So, is the 2019 Ford Explorer still the winner over the 2019 Chevy Traverse? Overall, yes it is. There more engines to choose from with the Explorer, including much more powerful options, and tech and safety features on the Explorer are unbeatable. While the Chevy Traverse has more interior cargo space, the people in the front seats and second-row get more legroom in the Explorer. Just like in 2018 to really see how impressive the Ford Explorer is, you should head to your local dealership and see it for yourself.