Jones Ford Buckeye Compares 2012 Ford Explorer VS 2012 Chevrolet Traverse Near Peoria, AZ

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2012 Ford Explorer

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2012 Chevrolet Traverse

Safety Comparison

The middle row seatbelts optional on the Explorer XLT/Limited inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Traverse doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

The Explorer Limited offers an optional collision warning system, which detects an impending crash through forward mounted sensors and flashes a bright light and sounds a loud, distinctive tone to warn the driver to brake or maneuver immediately to avoid a collision. The system also pre-charges the brakes to begin deceleration more quickly. The Traverse doesn't offer a collision warning system.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Explorer 4WD’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Traverse doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

To help make backing safer, the Explorer XLT/Limited’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Traverse doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Explorer and the Traverse have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Explorer is safer than the Chevrolet Traverse:





4 Stars

4 Stars




Chest Compression

.5 inches

.7 inches

Neck Stress

192 lbs.

199 lbs.

Neck Compression

53 lbs.

102 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Ford Explorer is safer than the Chevrolet Traverse:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

295 lbs.

390 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Hip Force

524 lbs.

597 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

676 lbs.

725 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

The Explorer’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Traverse’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Explorer has a standard 175 amp alternator (200 amp - Explorer XLT/Limited). The Traverse’s 170 amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 16th.

Engine Comparison

The Explorer’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 9 more horsepower (290 vs. 281) than the Traverse LS/LT’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Popular Mechanics the Ford Explorer V6 is faster than the Traverse LTZ:



Zero to 60 MPH

8.4 sec

8.4 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87.3 MPH

84.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer gets better fuel mileage than the Traverse:





20 city/28 hwy



18 city/25 hwy

17 city/24 hwy



17 city/23 hwy

16 city/23 hwy

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Traverse doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Explorer stops much shorter than the Traverse:



70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

194 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

135 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

161 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The Explorer’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 65 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Traverse LS’ standard 70 series tires. The Explorer’s optional tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Traverse’s optional 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Traverse’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Explorer has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Explorer flat and controlled during cornering. The Traverse’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Explorer Limited 4WD handles at .81 G’s, while the Traverse LTZ AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Explorer Limited 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Traverse LTZ AWD (27.4 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Explorer’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Traverse’s (39.7 feet vs. 40.4 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Explorer has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Traverse (7.6 vs. 7.2 inches), allowing the Explorer to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis Comparison

The Explorer is 7.9 inches shorter than the Traverse, making the Explorer easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Explorer Limited 4WD is quieter than the Traverse LT AWD:



At idle

35 dB

41 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

72 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The Explorer has 1 inch more front headroom, 1.1 inches more rear headroom and 3 inches more rear legroom than the Traverse.

The Explorer offers an optional rear tailgate seat that can be flipped rearward and used for tailgate picnics. (Do not use seat reversed while vehicle in motion.) The Traverse doesn’t offer a rear tailgate seat.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Explorer Limited’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Traverse doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Ergonomics Comparison

The Explorer XLT/Limited’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Traverse LTZ’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer XLT/Limited’s exterior keypad. The Traverse doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system, and its OnStar ® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

Intelligent Access standard on the Explorer Limited allows the driver to unlock the doors, cargo door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the car in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Chevrolet Traverse doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Traverse’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Explorer Limited’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear variable intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Traverse only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the Explorer’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Traverse doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Explorer Limited offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Traverse doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Explorer Limited’s optional Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Traverse doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Explorer owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Explorer will cost $55 to $330 less than the Traverse over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Explorer is less expensive to operate than the Traverse because it costs $133 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Explorer than the Traverse, including $103 less for a water pump, $30 less for an alternator, $77 less for front brake pads, $50 less for a starter, $83 less for fuel injection, $185 less for a fuel pump and $152 less for a power steering pump.

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