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The 2020 Champion: Chevy Traverse vs Ford Explorer

A red 2020 Chevy Traverse RS is parked at a stop light on a city street at night.

The whole Chevy vs Ford dilemma is an ongoing battle and with good reasoning. It’s no secret that these two brands often release similar, competitive models. And there are two SUVs that continue the trend: the 2020 Chevy Traverse and the 2020 Ford Explorer. But between the two, which is better? Who is the winner? While there are many die-hard fans of each brand, it’s good to look at each vehicle with an open mind. Whether you’re unbiased regarding car brands, or you’re a hardcore follower of either Chevy or Ford, these two vehicles are difficult to distinguish. So let’s take a look at the two and make a final decision about which one is the better competitor.

Outer Looks

Let’s start with aesthetic appeal. If you’re the type who cares a lot about a vehicle’s looks, this is an excellent place to start. There is no denying that it feels good to turn heads when you’re driving through the neighborhood. Both vehicles are midsize SUVs that have a very similar appearance. However, there are some key differences. Let’s start with the Chevy Traverse.

Both the base-level Traverse L and the Traverse LS are equipped with only a few basic color options. However, there’s more variety if you go with the LT Cloth trim and up, as there are ten different colors to choose from. There’s obviously a lot of variety here! Additionally, the stock version comes with 18-inch silver aluminum rims, which pairs well with any color. The 2020 Explorer’s base trim also starts with only a few colors; however, upgrading opens up to a plethora of other options. Additionally, like the Traverse, the Explorer does come with universal 18” aluminum wheels.

Inside the Vehicles

Just like the exterior, a car’s interior is important. However, this is not just for its visual appeal; it’s about comfort and convenience. Most SUV drivers want to seat as many people as possible. Even though these are midsize SUVs, that fact still stands. The more space, the better. So let’s take a look at the inside of the Traverse and the Explorer.

When it comes to the 2020 Traverse, seating is spectacular. In some trims, this SUV can hold up to eight passengers. SUV-drivers probably aren’t very introverted, but if they are, it looks like they’re in trouble now. When someone invites themselves over, there’s no way to say you don’t have enough room anymore! Further, pricier Traverse trims include a few interior color options in either cloth or leather.

The 2020 Ford Explorer only holds up to seven passengers, but some trims only hold up to six. The interior material comes in cloth and leather, just like the Traverse. However, you can only choose cloth options with the two lowest tier trims. This is unfortunate for cloth lovers who don’t want to deal with the seats being hot when you climb into the car in the summer. You’ll basically have to pick the cheaper versions of the Explorer if you prefer cloth over leather. On the other hand, the mid-level Chevy Traverse LT comes in both leather and cloth versions. This provides a cloth seating option for those who want the pricier car without leather interior.

A burgundy 2020 Ford Explorer is driving on a snowy road after losing the 2020 Chevy Traverse vs 2020 Ford Explorer comparison.

Safety Features

Appearance, price, and safety often play a huge role in deciding which car to purchase. That said, safety is the most important of the three. Let’s compare the safety specs of the 2020 Traverse and the 2020 Explorer to see which one may be the best fit for your concerns. First, it’s worth noting that both of these vehicles are highly rated for safety, but one does have more features than the other.

The Traverse is loaded with safety-driven technology. It includes a standard rear-vision camera, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, emergency braking, lane assist with lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, and finally, rear parking assist. Oh, and that’s not even including Teen Driver, which allows you to monitor your new driver’s driving and even set speed limits. All in all, the Traverse’s safety sensors and automatic braking technologies combined with its high safety ratings, make it an incredibly safe vehicle to drive.

On the other side of things, the 2020 Explorer includes reverse brake assist, sidewind stabilization, a 360-degree camera, and park assist. Sidewind stabilization is a new technology that keeps top-heavy vehicles steady during harsh winds. Park assist is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a technology that helps drivers park better and easier. And while all of these features are definitely helpful, the Traverse still includes a lot more safety technology than its competitor.

What Drivers Say

Regardless of how much you read about specs and tech information, you may still feel conflicted. These cars have so much in common, so how can you know which one is the best fit? Plus, all of this tech talk may mean nothing to you. Perhaps you’d rather see real comments from actual people who have driven these SUVs. Lucky for you, we’ve got a few remarks from the Edmunds Experts that should help make your final decision.

Interestingly enough, the Edmunds Experts give both the Traverse and the Explorer a 7.4 out of 10 overall ratings. This just complicates the decision, huh? However, each vehicle has its own separate weaknesses and strengths. For example, they claim that the Explorer drives better than the Traverse, yet the Traverse is more comfortable. Again, it’s really about what qualities and features are most important to you.

If you decide to go the Chevy route, the Edmunds recommend that you get the LT Cloth Traverse. That’s right, that good old-fashioned cloth interior for the win. It looks like some folks prefer cloth seats, after all. Good move, Chevy! According to these reviewers, the LT strikes a nice balance between “cost” and “livability.” While the base version is nice, these experts point out that the LT provides a trailer hitch and actual seats to replace the second-row bench seat option.

As far as the Explorer is concerned, the Edmunds recommend the XLT trim. This is because of its optional packages, and its reasonable price. They even claim that the interior materials really aren’t worth the money when it comes to the higher tier options. So, much like the Traverse, it’s best to meet in the middle and pick the mid-level trim.

A family is walking towards a white 2020 Chevy Traverse that is parked in their driveway.

So, Which Is Better?

One last thing to consider, which may actually be the most important, is pricing. Like any other vehicle, prices will vary based on tier level and customization. However, we can gather that the base-level Traverse price lands at $29,800, and its most expensive trim package, the High Country, starts at $50,900. The Explorer’s base model starts at $32,765, and its highest-end Platinum trim begins at $58,250. Both the entry and top-level trims of the Explorer are significantly more expensive than the Traverse’s similar trims.

After extensively reviewing the pros and cons of each model, it looks like the Chevy Traverse wins the battle this time. It’s more affordable, it carries more passengers, and its safety features are pretty phenomenal. The Explorer definitely has its perks, but between the two, the Traverse is the SUV champion of 2020.

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