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A black 2023 Chevy Traverse Midnight Edition is shown driving on a bridge after winning a 2023 Chevy Traverse vs 2023 Toyota Highlander comparison.

Space Is the Place in Three-Row SUVs Like the 2023 Chevy Traverse and 2023 Toyota Highlander

If you need a vehicle that has plenty of space but is also affordable and efficient, then you need to consider a three-row midsize SUV. These models give you the room to carry up to eight passengers, with the ability to easily convert this space to carry cargo and other belongings. The key to these models is to give you the drivability of a midsize vehicle with the utility of a larger model. Two of the top ones to consider are the 2023 Chevy Traverse vs 2023 Toyota Highlander.

The Traverse has been available since 2009, with the 2023 model part of the second generation of this three-row, midsize SUV. In fact, the 2022 model updated many features of the Traverse, showing that Chevy is interested in continuing to innovate with this popular model. Meanwhile, Toyota has been offering the Highlander since 2001. However, those first models were two rows only. In 2004, Toyota began offering the Highlander with a third row, allowing motorists to seat up to seven passengers. Today, the Highlander is in its fourth generation, offering seating for up to eight, just like the Traverse.

A green 2023 Toyota Highlander is shown driving off-road.

One Engine to Power Each of These SUVs

The 2023 Toyota Highlander comes with a choice of six different trim levels. The 2023 Chevy Traverse also offers six different trims, and it adds three special appearance editions. Both vehicles also give you the option of front-wheel or all-wheel drive models, but no matter which model you choose, you will only have one engine option in each of these two models. This is because both the 2023 Traverse and the 2023 Highlander come with a standard engine on each model.

The standard engine on the 2023 Chevy Traverse is a 3.6-liter V6 gas engine combined with a Hydra-Matic 9T65 nine-speed automatic transmission. This engine has a dual-overhead-camshaft configuration (DOHC) with four valves per cylinder. It uses automatic stop/start technology and continuously variable valve timing to improve efficient performance. The engine on the Traverse uses direct, high-pressure fuel injection to deliver 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander comes with a smaller engine. This is a 2.4-liter I-4 with a Direct-Shift-8AT eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. This is a major change for the Highlander, as the prior year’s model came with a standard V6 gas engine. This I-4 engine also has a DOHC configuration and uses stop & start technology to improve efficient performance. In addition to the turbocharger, Toyota has equipped this engine with a mild Atkinson-cycle hybrid mode, using a combination of direct and port fuel injection. As a result, this engine will produce up to 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

A white 2023 Chevy Traverse is shown driving on a city street.

Differences in Performance and Fuel Economy

The 2023 Traverse will give you better overall performance, while the 2023 Highlander gets better fuel economy. This has a great deal to do with their engine choices. The V6 engine on the Traverse allows it to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 6.8 seconds, while the Highlander lags behind, taking 7.2 seconds to get up to speed. Also, the Traverse has a top speed of 130 miles per hour, compared to the 113 miles per hour that is the uppermost limit for the Highlander.

Because of its smaller engine, the Highlander is able to give you better fuel economy. For example, when comparing front-wheel drive models, the Highlander will give you 29 miles per gallon on the highway, while the Traverse is slightly less at 27 miles per gallon. Both vehicles are capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. So, if you need to tow a trailer or boat, you can use either the Traverse or the Highlander.

Sizing Things Up Between These Two Models

If you are looking at a three-row SUV, then clearly, size is an important factor. In comparing the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Toyota Highlander, it is clear that the Traverse will give you more space than the Toyota.

The Traverse has 157.1 cubic feet of passenger space divided between its three rows of seats. This is over 15 more cubic feet of room for passengers than the Highlander, which has 141.8 cubic feet of space in the passenger compartment. While the first two rows of these vehicles are pretty similar, things start to diverge when you reach the last row of seats. The Traverse has a much more usable third row than the Highlander. Whether you are looking at headroom, legroom, shoulder, or hip room, the Traverse surpasses the Highlander. For example, the 2023 Traverse has 33.3 inches of legroom in the third row, significantly more than the 28 inches of legroom in the back row of the Highlander. In addition, the Traverse has 57.5 inches of shoulder room in the third row, while the Highlander only has 55 inches. This is why things will start getting pretty tight in the Highlander, especially on long drives. As a result, the Traverse is a better bet to really hold up to eight passengers.

There is also a clear difference when it comes to cargo capacity. Once again, the Traverse simply has more room. The trunk on the 2023 Traverse opens to reveal 23 cubic feet of cargo space. The 16 cubic feet of trunk space on the 2023 Highlander is more comparable to a compact SUV than a three-row midsize model. If you need more room on the Traverse, you can free up to 98.2 cubic feet of space by simply folding the rear two rows of seats. Doing this on the Highlander only gives you 84.3 cubic feet of room for your things.

A gray 2023 Toyota Highlander XS is shown driving inside of a tunnel.

Technology to Make Things Safer and More Comfortable

Both the 2023 Chevy Traverse and the 2023 Toyota Highlander are very tech-forward SUVs. Each has an infotainment system that allows you to connect your devices so you can make hands-free calls and send text messages. In fact, both of these models feature standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is impressive since most other models in their vehicle class currently offer this only as an advanced feature on higher trims.

Chevy and Toyota also have used technology to make their vehicles safer. Interestingly enough, both the Traverse and the Highlander feature a set of standard driver assistance technologies that are almost identical. The Traverse has the Chevy Safety Assist features, like automatic emergency braking, forward pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and IntelliBeam high beam assist. The Highlander has the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ package. This also includes these features but with different names. Nevertheless, it shows the commitment Chevrolet and Toyota have made to passenger safety.

One thing that does separate the two models is the small details that make the 2023 Traverse a more practical model than the 2023 Highlander, especially if you are looking at the base models. For example, the base Chevy Traverse LS has seats covered with premium cloth fabric. If you are looking at the 2023 Highlander, you will need to move to a higher trim to get this.

In addition, Chevy has given the Traverse more USB ports. In fact, each row has at least two. This gives the Traverse a total of six USB charging ports, allowing almost all of your passengers to charge their devices. The Highlander only has four USB charging ports, with none located in the third row. This could cause difficulty on long trips where your passengers will want to be able to keep their smartphones charged. These may seem like minor points, but so many passengers use their devices to play games, read articles, or listen to music, so having chargers is critically important.

A white 2023 Chevy Traverse is shown parked on a driveway.

Getting More Out of a Larger Model

The 2023 Chevy Traverse gives you more than the 2023 Toyota Highlander. While the new turbo I-4 on the Highlander gives it better fuel economy, it comes at the cost of performance. The Traverse still delivers with Chevy’s decision to remain using a V6 gas engine. In addition, the Traverse is roomier than the Highlander, with a more useful third row of seats, as well as plenty of cargo space. This makes the Traverse better able to accommodate up to eight passengers. Finally, while both have exceptional safety and connectivity technology, Chevy has done a better job of putting in small details to make the Traverse more practical than the Highlander. So, if you are looking for a three-row model that has more to offer, the 2023 Chevy Traverse is the choice for you.