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2018 Chevy Traverse vs. Ford Explorer: Which is the Right SUV for You?


Chevy and Ford, rivals from the beginning of time, both have popular SUVs in their Traverse and Explorer models. But which one gives you more bang for your buck in terms of performance, utility, and comfort? We checked in with the experts at Car and Driver to get their take on each 2018 SUV, to hopefully end this “Traverse vs. Explorer” debate once and for all.

2018 Chevy Traverse vs. Ford Explorer Which is the Right SUV for You

Why Car and Driver? When it comes to comprehensive vehicle reviews, nobody’s more thorough than the experts at Car and Driver. They not only provide an overall impression of a vehicle, they dissect it, examining and rating every component to deliver a rating that’s actually backed up by a whole lot of legwork.

That’s exactly what they did with both the 2018 Chevy Traverse and its rival, the 2018 Ford Explorer. Here’s their verdict.

The 2018 Chevy Traverse

The experts at Car and Driver could barely contain their excitement over testing the 2018 Traverse.

Style: Car and Driver loves the Traverse’s updated “truck-like” exterior styling for 2018, and found the interior refined with plenty of practical touches like cup holders and USB ports.

They found the Traverse’s entry-level trims had a “durable interior with straightforward controls and enough style to avoid looking basic.” The upper-level High Country trim (on the level of the Explorer’s Platinum trim) has “faux-suede inserts on the door panels and dash, finely grained leather seating surfaces with embroidered logos, and a color-matched vinyl-wrapped instrument panel.”

Their interior rating: 4 stars

Cargo Space: The Traverse earned an impressive 4-½ stars for its “voluminous carry-on capacity” and its generous front-row cubby storage. The Traverse’s cargo space is as follows: 23 cubic feet behind the third row; 58.1 cubic feet behind the second row; 98.5 cubic feet up to the front seats. That’s a good bit more than the Explorer offers.

Performance: “Zippy acceleration, a comfortable ride, well-coordinated handling, and decent braking performance” earned the 2018 Chevy Traverse 4-1/2 stars when it came to driving impressions.

Engine and Transmission: Once again, the Traverse beat out the Explorer with a total of 4-½stars for its potent V-6 engines (3.6L V-6 and 2.0L turbocharged V-6) and its slick-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. They also crowed about the Traverse’s standard automatic stop-start feature, calling it “one of the best we’ve experienced.”

Infotainment: Chevy earned another impressive 4-½-star rating for its intuitive MyLink infotainment system, an abundance of USB ports, a high-mounted touchscreen, and segment-leading response times. (Bluetooth audio, voice command and phone are standard, as are Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and 7 USB ports.)

The 2018 Ford Explorer

Can the Explorer hold up to the amazing ratings earned by the Traverse?

Style: The reviewers at Car and Driver found the Explorer’s style to be handsome, but lamented over the fact that the interior is decidedly not as “posh” as the outside would lead you to believe. They also complained about an “awkward layout and poor build quality” inside the Explorer, pointing out that, although the materials in the top trim Platinum were of high quality, the cabin’s “fit and finish was horrid—panels fit together poorly, and gaps between panels were large.”

Their interior rating for the Explorer: 2-½ stars

Cargo Space: Reviewers gave the Explorer 3-½ stars because cargo space was less impressive than hoped for, especially when the second- and third-row seats were folded. The new Explorer’s cargo space is as follows: 21 cubic feet behind the third row; 43.8 cubic feet behind the second row; 80.7 cubic feet behind the first row.

Performance: Reviewers awarded the Explorer 3-½ stars because they felt it “…drives bigger than it is. Its well-damped ride prioritizes comfort over dynamic handling.”

Engine and Transmission: Are you starting to see a pattern? The Explorer’s engine and transmission package won a total of 3 stars to the Traverse’s 4-½. Reviewers found the two available engines (3.5L V-6 and 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder) to be just “adequate.” That simply won’t cut it in this day and age.

Infotainment: The Explorer earned a respectable 4-star rating for its infotainment system, which includes standard features like Bluetooth audio and phone capabilities and a fairly intuitive and responsive touchscreen. While it includes the same features as the Traverse—namely Bluetooth audio and voice command—its lackluster array of just 3 USB ports and awkward placement of cup holders leaves much to be desired.

Chevy Models

Chevy Traverse Wins, Hands-Down!

Overall ratings tell the story. The Car and Driver critics rated the Chevy Traverse 4-½ stars out of 5 for a nearly perfect score, quipping that Chevy “kept the best of it and improved the rest of it.” The Explorer? It earned a C (3 out of 5 stars) as reviewers proclaimed that “its time as king of the three-row-crossover castle is just a memory now.”


As part of one of the best Chevy dealerships in Overland Park, the team here at McCarthy-Morse Chevrolet is always happy to help drivers from Kansas City to Shawnee discover their new vehicle. If you need a quality SUV to explore those busy streets, it’s time to visit our car dealership and test drive the 2018 Traverse. Contact us at (913) 440-0099 to set up an appointment or drive to our Chevrolet dealership at 9201 Metcalf Ave in Overland Park, KS.


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