8th Place - Chevrolet Traverse 2LT AWD
The Chevrolet Traverse is by and far the largest vehicle here with 116.3 cubic feet of total cargo space behind the front seats. For some perspective, that is almost as much total interior space as Chevrolet’s other monster utility vehicle, the Suburban. It also means the Traverse has nearly 30 cubic feet more interior space than the next largest vehicle, the Honda Pilot, and almost as much space behind the second row of seats as the Kia Sorento does behind the front row.
This also leads to great passenger space. Aside from being one of three vehicles in the test to offer eight-passenger seating, the Chevy wound up in a four-way tie for best middle row comfort and only trailed the Dodge Durango in third row comfort. But after space and comfort, not much else impressed with the Traverse.
Power comes from GM’s ever-present 3.6-liter V6 making 288 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque in this application. Although both those numbers are near the high-end in this comparison, the 4,956-lb Traverse is the second-heaviest vehicle in the shootout and power never felt plentiful. As well, some staff members found the engine was overly loud under acceleration. A large engine and heavy weight also lead to poor fuel economy. Officially rated at 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway, we were only able to average 17 MPG, which is within spitting distance of the V8-powered Durango.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Chevy Traverse Review
Inside, the Traverse took a lot of heat from our reviewers. Many did not like the fit and finish or the overall design of the interior and it finished dead last in both categories. The features list on this crossover is pretty sparse, rivaling the Highlander for least equipped vehicle despite costing over $5,000 more than the Toyota.
With an exterior and driving experience as equally blasé as the interior, the Traverse quickly earned the title as the “mom jeans” option in this comparison. If space and power are the two most important features in a three-row crossover, this vehicle is worth a look. Otherwise, there are more appealing options out there.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $43,750
- ENGINE: 3.6-liter V6, 288 hp, 270 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 17.0 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 70.3 cu. Ft.
7th place – Ford Explorer Limited 4WD
Our Ford Explorer tester arrived with nearly every option box ticked off, including the dual-pane moonroof, tow package, 20-inch polished wheels, adaptive cruise and the mysterious 302A option group. That ran the price up over the $50,000 mark, making the Explorer the second most expensive vehicle in the test.
Besides being expensive, the big Ford was also thirsty, has one of the worst second rows of seats and left a bit to be desired with the fit and finish. The once leading-edge interior design is starting to show its age, despite being all-new in 2011. Of course, it almost goes without saying that MyFord Touch still
isn’t making any friends and the new QNX software can’t come soon enough.
We did like the way the big Ford drives though. The 290 hp 3.5-liter V6 was liked by many and the Explorer was voted to be one of the most car-like competitors to drive, even if our observed fuel economy average of 18.7 MPG was, itself, not very car-like. Our testers were torn when it came to ride comfort as some like the Explorers ride while others found it to be noisy at certain speeds.
The Ford is also one of only two vehicles that are semi-serious about off-roading. With the terrain management system, the Explorer can adjust its all-wheel drive system to suit various conditions like sand, snow, gravel, rocks and ruts.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport Review
Most of our staff members like the rugged, boxy looks and found the driving position to be comfortable, although outward visibility isn’t great. But in a vehicle designed to cater to passengers, the Explorer falls short. Along with having one of the worst second rows of seats, the third row was rated near the back of the pack as well.
The Explorer really isn’t that bad of a crossover, it is just old and out-classed. A smooth driver with a classic SUV look, the Explorer is ready for a refresh.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $50,140
- ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6, 290 hp, 255 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 18.7 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 43.8 cu. Ft.