Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A green 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is shown from the side at an angle.

How the Ford Explorer Serves Busy Parents Better Than the Chevy Traverse

Every busy family eventually realizes that they need a solid three-row SUV. You can try as you might to make all of the carpool and soccer practices and runs to the superstore work with a smaller vehicle. However, after enough complaints from finicky kids from the backseat and fights with the trunk to get in that last grocery bag, you just accept it: you need a three-row SUV. These are the vehicles that are designed for busy parents. Many parents wind up considering the 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Chevy Traverse once it’s time to shop for their SUV.

Ford has been making the Explorer since 1990, while Chevy only started making the Traverse in 2009. So, Ford has had nearly two more decades to perfect their three-row SUV and, quite frankly, it shows. To be fair, both of these vehicles have all of the basics covered. You get spacious seating, large trunks, great infotainment, Wi-Fi, and excellent driver-assist features. You’ll find the essentials needed to make it through another day of the school dropoff line in both options. However, Ford put a little more attention into the details that will make the days of busy parents just a little easier. Here’s a look at how these two family-friendly people haulers compare.

Creative Cargo for All of Your (And Your Kids’) Stuff

You’ll rarely find an empty trunk in the vehicle of a busy parent. Between sports gear and coolers of snacks, to the dry cleaning to a giant bag of pet food, there’s always something in the cargo area. Both the Ford Explorer and the Chevy Traverse have spacious trunks. They also both boast underfloor storage, but what is really nice about the Explorer is the reversible load floor.

Flip over the Explorer’s reversible floorboard, and you’ll find plastic bedding. This will come in handy when your kids insist on taking the dogs to the beach, who then want to get back in the trunk, soaking wet from their swim. It is also handy when you aren’t quite sure the lid on that cooler carrying all of those orange slices and juice boxes for soccer practice is latched properly. If you’re a busy parent, you have enough on your plate––you don’t need to vacuum out the trunk every time things get messy. The plastic side of this floorboard makes it easy to just wipe the cargo area down and move on with making dinner or helping with homework. Additionally, the Ford Explorer has extra side pockets for small items you don’t want to get lost, like tennis balls or sunscreen (or that one toy your child would throw a major tantrum over if it got lost).

The interior of a 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline is shown from the passenger seat.

Seats for Hyper Kids and Tired Parents

The Ford Explorer and Chevy Traverse both have a lot of passenger seating. The Explorer gets standard captain’s chairs in the second row, providing plenty of leg and shoulder room. The Traverse has available second-row captain’s chairs. Both have third rows that fold down quickly to create extra and configurable cargo room, too.

Here’s where the Ford Explorer stands out once again: Ford thought about the parents, too. The multicontour Active Motion front seats will actually massage your body. They have a subtle rolling device that can be set to different “themes” and will massage your lower back and your legs. When was the last time you were able to book yourself a real massage between dropping kids at science camp and swim practice? These seats were a thoughtful addition on Ford’s part that shows they prioritize you, the parent, along with the kids. It might feel like everybody else forgot that mom or dad needs self-care sometimes, but Ford didn’t.

Drive Modes to Keep You Cool Under Pressure

You might not be able to keep your kids from arguing over who gets to use the tablet next, and you certainly can’t control the road construction that’s making you all late for school. However, you can feel in command as a driver, no matter the circumstances, with the generous number of drive modes on the Ford Explorer.

The Ford Explorer has normal, eco, sport, tow/haul, slippery, and trail modes. Plus, vehicles equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive even get deep sand/snow mode. You know how quickly bad road conditions can lead to a minor collision that sets your whole day back. These intuitive modes will adjust the traction control to help you stay in command, no matter what. The Chevy Traverse also offers drive modes, but they are limited. For the Traverse, you’re going to just have off-road, snow, and tow/haul. There is also available all-wheel drive. It’s not quite as ready as the Traverse to adjust your vehicle’s systems to maintain traction in different environments.

One Driver Assist Feature That Trumps Them All

Both of these vehicles have good standard driver assist features like blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and automatic emergency braking. However, only the 2023 Ford Explorer has active park assist. The Explorer’s available active park assist will take over steering, braking, and accelerating when activated to help you get into tricky parking spots. This is a huge relief for parents who are dealing with tantrums and juice spills while trying to parallel park. Let the Explorer handle the parking job while you handle the string cheese stuck between the crevices of the console.

Harness the Power of Hybrid

This is a pretty major advantage that the Ford Explorer has over the Chevy Traverse: it has a hybrid model. The Traverse does not offer a hybrid––for now. If you’re a family on a budget, a hybrid vehicle can save you a substantial amount of money every year on gasoline. Not only does it save you money, but it also saves you trips to the gas station, and most busy parents know that children don’t have the patience for those stops. Having a hybrid vehicle also provides the opportunity to set a green living example for your children.

A silver 2021 Ford Explorer is shown from the rear at an angle during a 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Chevy Traverse comparison.

The Ford Explorer Goes Above and Beyond for Families

No matter which vehicle you choose––the 2023 Ford Explorer or the 2023 Chevy Traverse––you will enjoy spacious seating, a large trunk, and an all-around safe, reliable vehicle. However, busy parents know that chaos can strike at any moment. Having a car with those added details to make every moment go smoothly is a big bonus. The Ford Explorer is that vehicle.

The Explorer goes above and beyond with things like the reversible load floor with a plastic side to make cleanup easier and extra side pockets for miscellaneous items. It has those massaging front seats that provide parents a little moment of self-care between chauffeuring kids around town and active park assist to help you nail a parking spot, even when you aren’t nailing managing that backseat argument over snack sharing. Finally, the Explorer has a hybrid model, and that’s a huge bonus. Families who are budgeting and trying to stick to financial goals know how costly gas can be. Reducing that expense can make more space for the things that matter, like an extra dinner out with the family or paying for the next school field trip. Hey, maybe you can even use the saved money to book yourself a massage at a real spa (but the Active Motion seats will suffice for now).