2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Chevy Traverse

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  • 2021 Ford Explorer

    A blue 2021 Ford Explorer ST is angled left.

    Starting at


    2021 Chevy Traverse

    A grey 2021 Chevy Traverse is angled right.

    Starting at


    300-400Horsepower (hp)310
    5,600Max Towing (lbs)5,000
    310-415Torque (lb-ft)266

    The 2021 Ford Explorer was specifically created for exploring our modern world. It's not just a name - it's a lifestyle. Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Traverse was made for traversing across your town or across the country. These two vehicles both offer seating for the whole family and the capability to get you to your next adventure. Which comes out on top in the battle between the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Chevy Traverse?

    Truly, the 2021 Ford Explorer brings a lot to the table. The interior offers a lot of flexibility for hauling large amounts of cargo, up to seven people, or any combination therein. The standard and available safety features offer peace of mind and confidence for any adventure, as well. Plus, the Explorer is offered in a full range of trims that are bound to suit the needs of nearly every driver, with customizable packages offered at every level. The Traverse also has a lot to offer, but when put beside the Ford Explorer, it simply pales in comparison.

    While it's true that not every driver will require the size and space offered by the 2021 Explorer or 2021 Traverse, those that do will have a difficult choice on their hands. While the Traverse has the space for your whole family, it does not match the Explorer when it comes to power. That's what makes the 2021 Ford Explorer an easy choice for drivers who are ready to break out of their daily routine and investigate the possibilities.

  • Performance

    A blue 2021 Ford Explorer is towing an Airstream past pine trees.

    The 2021 Ford Explorer is not designed to be a "one size fits all" vehicle, and for that reason, it's not been given a "one size fits all" engine. In fact, this midsize three-row crossover SUV has three different engine options, one of which is a hybrid engine option for those who want to be a little more fuel-conscious.

    A Full Range of Powerful Options for the Explorer
    The engine lineup starts with a 2.3L turbocharged inline-4 that comes standard on the base, XLT, and Limited trims. This engine starts things out on a very high note, providing 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission, this engine includes standard rear-wheel drive, although you do have the option of all-wheel drive.

    Those who choose the Platinum, King Ranch, or ST trim are treated to a 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The version given to the Platinum makes a very serviceable 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. However, the highly tuned version that dwells under the hood of the high-performance ST is capable of 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0L V6 engine is also equipped with a ten-speed transmission, and all-wheel drive is available for these models.

    For anyone ready to dip their toes in our electric future, the Ford Explorer Hybrid, available on the Limited trim, pairs a very powerful 3.3L V6 engine with an electric motor. The result is an impressive 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is also an option on this model, making it a fully adventure-ready economical option for those who choose to wander.

    One Engine for the Traverse.

    While the 2021 Ford Explorer has options for your engine, the Chevy Traverse is only powered by one. The 3.6-liter V6 engine produces an underwhelming 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. While this engine is still pretty reliable, it does not match up to the power provided by even the base Explorer engine.

    Even at its best, the Chevy Traverse is only able to tow up to 5,000 lbs, while the maximum towing capacity of the Explorer goes all the way up to 5,600 pounds. These two factors, more engine options and greater towing capability, really make the 2021 Ford Explorer stand out.

  • Safety

    A family is getting into a grey 2021 Ford Explorer in a driveway.


    A Smooth Driving Experience
    Many drivers are less concerned with a vehicle's power and are more interested in how well it drives. Drivers who have slipped behind the wheel of the 2021 Explorer have commented that the ride is smooth, with acceleration that doesn't require a lot of time and a snappy braking response. Ford has also provided the new Explorer with several performance-oriented options that keep the drive safe and secure, no matter what the road ahead may hold.

    For example, all-wheel drive Explorers include a Terrain Management system, which provides different settings to control throttle, transmission, steering, and traction depending on the environment. These include a Deep Snow/Sand mode, along with Tow/Haul, Slippery, and Sport modes. Additionally, the all-wheel drive system is designed to automatically disconnect the front axle when driving on the highway for better fuel economy. That being said, if the highways are slippery, the system will send up to 50% of the power where it's needed in the front.

    Safety Behind the Wheel of the Explorer

    Drivers will also be relieved to know that Ford's Co-Pilot360 Technology is on board as a standard feature across the lineup. The base trim includes features such as the Lane Keeping System, which includes driver assistance and alerts when drifting from your lane without turning on the turn signal. Additional features include a rearview camera with its own washer, AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, and a forward sensing system. Climbing the trims unlocks more safety and driver assistance features, including voice-activated touchscreen navigation. While driving a vehicle filled with seven passengers comes with its own challenges, the Ford Explorer provides drivers with all the assistance they need to keep everyone safe and sound from Point A to Point B.

    Safety Behind the Wheel of the Traverse

    The Traverse also has some excellent safety features, but for many of them, you will have to upgrade to a higher trim or optional packages. The Traverse comes standard with Chevy's Teen Driver system, which is a unique feature that many parents with new drivers love having. Also standard is the Rear Vision Camera that gives you a clear view behind your car as you reverse with guidelines to help with parking.

    If you want more help seeing behind you, you can add the Rear Park Assist, Rear Camera Mirror, and HD Surround Vision, though those all are extra. You can also pay more to have Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. While these safety features are good, they come at a premium, whereas many of Ford's similar features are standard in the Explorer.

  • Trims

    The interior of a 2021 Ford Explorer is shown with a desert in the windshield view.

    Trims for the 2021 Ford Explorer: The Explorer

    The 2021 Ford Explorer is offered in a variety of trims to complement a variety of lifestyles. The trims start off right with the base Explorer trim. Though considered a "no-frills" model, this option certainly has exactly what most drivers need, including tri-zone automatic climate control, LED headlamps and taillights, and configurable daytime running lights. It's not completely without comforts, either, including an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that connects with satellite radio, a 4G LTE WiFi connection, and five 12V power outlets, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and camping trips.

    The XLT

    The XLT trim packs in some additional convenience features you may like. This includes automatic high beams, a power liftgate, and dual USB charging ports in the second row. The second-row bench seats are replaced with captain's chairs, which reduces the maximum number of passengers, though the foldable bench seat can be optioned back in as needed. The second row also gets a console to organize all of those road trip goodies, while the front seats are heated for cold-weather comfort.

    The Limited

    Stepping up to the Limited trim creates a vehicle that is fun, convenient, and comfortable to drive, whether you're going short distances or exploring the entire length of the United States. This includes standard leather seating, along with power-stow second-row bucket seats. Both the front and second-row seats are heated in the Limited trim, along with the steering wheel. A wireless charging pad is added, along with second-row sunblinds and a Universal garage door remote opener.

    The King Ranch

    The 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch edition is a special offering, which means it has a variety of badges and one-of-a-kind features that demonstrate that distinct honor. For example, the Mesa Del Rio hand-stitched upholstery comes in a warm two-tone brown, and the 20-inch 10-spoke wheels are an exclusive feature for the trim.

    The Platinum and the ST

    At the top of the Ford Explorer experience are the Platinum and the ST. The Platinum trim is dedicated to comfort and luxury, while the ST is more performance-oriented. Behind the wheel of a Platinum Explorer, you'll find Tri-Diamond Perforated Leather Seating Surfaces with Accent Stitching. Both back rows feature PowerFold technology to allow drivers and passengers to reconfigure the cabin to meet the needs of every passenger and all of their cargo. The 10.1-inch vertical infotainment touchscreen, B&O premium sound system, and 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster also set it apart from the rest. You can even get a massaging driver's seat.

    The ST includes independently tuned front and rear suspension for a true performance feel. Also added to the trim are Active Park Assist and a specialized ST perforated leather and City Silver interior. The power liftgate includes hands-free technology, while the quad chrome exhaust tips and ST taillight badging remind others on the road that you're taking driving duties seriously. Regardless of which 2021 Ford Explorer you choose, the road is full of possibilities, and the ride will be smooth and comfortable.

    Trims for the 2021 Chevy Traverse: The L
    The L is the Chevy Traverse base trim, and it has some interesting styling features. The L comes with 18-inch bright silver-painted aluminum wheels and a dual-outlet exhaust. You'll also have access to the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system on a 7-inch touchscreen and the option of 4G LTE WiFi powered through OnStar. While the base model is cheaper than that of the Explorer, it really shows with how bare of features it is.

    The LS

    If you choose the LS, you will get Chevy's Driver Mode Selector. Choose between front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, off-road, or tow/haul to make your driving experience smoother. The LS also comes with deep-tinted rear windows and LED daytime running lights.

    The LT Cloth and LT Leather

    The LT level of trims is where you start to get more upgraded features. With the LT Cloth, you'll get heated body-color mirrors with turn signal indicators and an 8-way power driver's seat. The LT Leather gets you access to safety features like the Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Park Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. You'll also get a larger 8-inch touchscreen for the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.

    The RS

    With the RS, you will have the full range of Chevy's safety features and some unique styling accents. The RS stands out with its black roof rails, bowtie emblems, window trim, and grille. The RS also rides on 20-inch dark-painted aluminum wheels, giving it a distinctly different appearance than the other trims. However, despite its sporty looks, it has no mechanical upgrades.

    The Premier and the High Country

    The Premier is where you start getting into some of the more luxury features. A heated steering wheel and heated second-row captain's chairs are a great compliment to the heated and ventilated leather-appointed driver and passenger seats. You will also have wireless charging on this trim. Finally, the High Country is the top of the line with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels and a power-folding third row. You can also enjoy the SkyScape power sunroof and rear skylight with sunscreen.

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