|98.2||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||84.3|
What should one search for in a family-oriented and well-rounded SUV? There are many things to consider from the overall pricing to the performance, trims, and interior features. While there may be many models within the automotive world that attempt to fit this bill of expectations, there are a few who managed to surpass all of the rest. Amongst the growing world of SUVs, Chevy and Toyota have vehicles that remain within the ranks of top-performers. In fact, they are often examined in a comparison: 2020 Chevy Traverse vs 2020 Toyota Highlander.
Both of these models promise a lot right out of the gate, but which specific vehicle is the superior buy? While similar in the seating capacity, the plethora of trims they each offer, and the towing capacity, the two SUVs actually have many differences. For instance, the Toyota Highlander comes out on top in terms of fuel economy. And on the other hand, the 2020 Chevy Traverse has a more powerful engine, ample cargo space, and a much lower starting MSRP. So while it does fall behind in one category, the Traverse seemingly has more upsides than down. And this is going to become evident through further comparison.
Engines and powertrains can absolutely define your experience behind the wheel of an SUV, and that fact holds true with the comparison of the 2020 Chevy Traverse and the 2020 Toyota Highlander. Both models are on the larger side, so they’ll need engines capable of hauling all of that weight behind them. Fortunately, both models start rather strong by equipping them with engines that deliver a rather reasonable rate of power, even at base models.
Performance in the Chevy Traverse is spearheaded by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that is responsible for 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. This base engine is assisted by a 9-speed automatic transmission and can be partnered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. This entry-powertrain of the Chevy Traverse is pretty remarkable, offering more than enough strength to propel this Chevy SUV forward with little hesitation. While an alternative upgrade may have been nice, its not at all necessary here as this single powertrain will undoubtedly satisfy anyone who gets behind the wheel. There once was a turbocharged four-cylinder available in the Chevy Traverse, but Chevy scrapped it for this far more capable six-cylinder option.
The Chevy Traverse sports a ground clearance of 8-inches, so off-roading isn’t entirely out of the question. And with a max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds in some trim configurations, the Chevy Traverse is certainly multifaceted in terms of capability. Gas mileage for the base, front-wheel drive models, manage to provide 18 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. Although, if you want to take advantage of all-wheel drive, you’ll have to settle with a slightly decreased 17 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway.
Performance in the 2020 Toyota Highlander sits at a similar level as the Chevy Traverse but falls a margin short in some areas. The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that is capable of putting out 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. While the power output here is good, it misses the mark in terms of horsepower. Considering the size of the Toyota Highlander, one may find the overall thrust of this base engine a little lacking. And unfortunately, this is the only gas-powered option in the Toyota Highlander.
That said, this base powertrain funnels its power through an 8-speed automatic transmission, and it comes standard with front-wheel drive, which can be upgraded to all-wheel drive. The 8-speed automatic transmission gets the job done in some capacity, providing agile power transfer. However, without an option for an upgrade, this singular 8-speed automatic transmission won’t cut it for those who want something a little more robust. Tow capacity in this powertrain sits within a similar range as the Chevy brand competitor, with the muscle to haul up to 5,000 pounds behind the rear tailgate. The base-level fuel economy resides around a predictable 20 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. So while the fuel economy is slightly better in the Highlander, there are many sacrifices in terms of power and overall drivability.
Of course, a significant consideration that comes into play when purchasing a new vehicle is cost. And along with this cost comes the different available trims. It is vital to find a vehicle that offers an array of trims with differing features and prices to allow drivers to customize to their wants and needs. And while both of these vehicles provide a plethora of trims to pick from, the price point is much lower for the Chevy Traverse.
On the one hand, the 2020 Chevy Traverse is an SUV that can seat up to eight passengers and has an initial asking price of $29,800 MSRP. There is a bounty of trim configurations within the Chevy Traverse lineup, and they include the L, LS, LT, RS, Premier, and High Country. Should you choose to upgrade the Chevy Traverse, you’ll find the price top out at around $50,900 MSRP in the High Country trim. Overall, the starting price is very affordable, and the top trim offers tons of luxuries that are well-worth the higher price.
On the opposite end of the competitive field is the Toyota Highlander, another eight-seater SUV that has a much higher starting price of $34,600 MSRP, making it the more costly model of the two. Pricing jolts even higher if you upgrade the Toyota Highlander, and tops out at the Platinum trim that starts at $48,250 MSRP. The trims are pretty varied, with drivers able to choose between the L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. The combination of the shorter trim offerings and the higher starting price makes the Highlander fall behind in the competition.
The interior experience of an SUV like the Chevy Traverse or the Toyota Highlander plays a massive role in overall quality. While breathing room for passengers and cargo can be a big deal in a comparison like this, so can the variety of features onboard. Both of these vehicles provide plenty in the way of modern amenities, utilizing great tech to make it all happen.
The inside of the Chevy Traverse is a total cargo capacity of 98 cu.ft. Models of the Chevy Traverse can hold up to eight passengers, thanks to the three rows of seating. In the second row, passengers get 38 inches of legroom, while third-row passengers still get to enjoy an ample 33 inches of legroom. Adorned in cloth and soft-touch plastics, even base models of the Chevy Traverse, are pretty lavishly decorated. Upgrade your base model, and you’ll get upgraded materials that include genuine leather.
In terms of interior features, the Chevy Traverse is well equipped. Base models sport a 7.0-inch infotainment screen that comes with both Bluetooth connectivity as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Higher-tier models support higher-tier features, with the LT trim offering a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, and a power liftgate. Move all the way up to the High Country trim, and you’ll find additional bells and whistles, including a wireless phone charger, lush leather seating, a Bose designed audio system and a heated second-row. The Traverse's interior lacks nothing.
The Toyota Highlander is also pretty spacious on the inside. Total cargo capacity tops out at 84.3 cu.ft., which isn’t half bad but falls behind the competition. Legroom is substantial in the second row, measuring in at 41.0 inches, but minimal in the third row, offering only 27.7 inches to shift around in. As can be expected, the Toyota Highlander comes standard with cloth upholstery and high-quality plastics. Upgrade the Highlander, though, and you’ll move into synthetic or even real leather seating.
The base infotainment screen in the Highlander is on the larger side, measuring at 8.0-inches and offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. A power driver seat, keyless ignition, and a three-zone climate control system are also a part of the standard package on the Toyota Highlander. If you pay a little extra, you can add-in features like a power moonroof, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated second-row seats, and even speakers designed by JBL. Overall, though, the space is larger, and the features are better inside the Traverse.