In this issue we get two American brand SUVs to try out, starting with the Chevrolet Traverse. The base price is about $30K, but this is an upgraded High Country version that is supposed to come standard with everything, so it hit a tidy $52,490.
That is for the two-wheel-drive rig like we had. But ordering all-wheel drive will cost even more! The factory claims a seating capacity of eight, but the more expensive ones like this have bucket seats, so it drops to six people.
The only engine is a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 310 horsepower. Fuel economy is listed at 18/27 mpg. The cabin is well designed with plenty of simple controls and first class leather trim. There are plenty of large storage compartments for storing gear. The vehicle is very pleasant to drive, with plenty of power, comfortable ride and strong brakes. On freeway trips we saw 26 mpg.
There is one feature the Traverse has that is controversial, and that is the “Start/Stop” program. The way it works is when the vehicle comes to a stop light, the engine shuts off to save fuel. The light turns green, the accelerator pedal is pressed and the engine activates. Many drivers find this very annoying in operation, so most car makers issue a disconnect button to turn all this gadgetry off. On 2019 and 2020 Traverse models, it can’t be turned off. This may or may not be a deal killer, so test drive and see how this works for you.
If you want an SUV that does have a disconnect button for the Start/Stop system, then how about the Ford Explorer? The starting tab is $33K, but this was the super grade Platinum version with an entry fee of $59K. You would think everything would be standard at this price, but wait, there’s more! With options like 21-inch aluminum wheels, 14-speaker sound system, 10-inch touch screen and custom front seats, the bottom line soared way past the 60K mark!
The base engine is a turbo four putting out 300 horsepower. This one had the bigger 3.0-liter V6 turbo at 365 horsepower, and hooked to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Need more? There is a souped-up 400 hp motor offered, but that will raise the cost even more! At these prices, we expect a fancy all-wheel-drive system and get it. Turn a knob, and various modes are available: Normal, Sport, Eco, Tow, Snow, Sand, Slippery and Trail.
While the Explorer has many drive modes, going off the pavement has limits, mainly due to the low ground clearance and long wheelbase. But on the road, there is plenty of power from that strong engine. Using that power in the city showed fuel economy of only 14 mpg, but on freeway trips, 24 was obtained, which is what the EPA claims.
The Explorer is pleasant to drive, but it’s a wide spread from $33K to $65K. Shop wisely.
Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.