Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A brown 2022 Chevy Traverse is shown in the mountains during a 2022 Chevy Traverse vs 2022 Ford Explorer comparison.

The 2022 Chevy Traverse and 2022 Ford Explorer: Which Is the Ultimate Family Vehicle?

The three-row SUV is nothing new to the market; in fact, it wasn’t too many decades ago when every family-oriented vehicle had some kind of third row or jump seat. This was true of most SUVs, vans, and even station wagons. But, tastes have changed. Today, drivers who need plenty of space for passengers and belongings alike turn to the three-row SUV almost exclusively. To no one’s surprise, two of the current leaders in that class are the 2022 Chevy Traverse and the 2022 Ford Explorer.

The Ford Explorer first hit the market in 1991, and has seen plenty of changes between those early models and the 7-seater SUV we see today. A relative newcomer to the scene is the 7-or-8-passenger Chevrolet Traverse, which made its debut in 2008.

Still, both manufacturers are well aware of their audience and its particular needs. The Traverse and Explorer aren’t exclusively sold to families, of course, but there are quite a few hints in the overall design and engineering that reveal for whom these vehicles were intended. Read on to decide for yourself which vehicle has earned the designation of the Ultimate Family Vehicle.

A blue 2022 Ford Explorer ST is shown parked outside of a coffee shop.

Family-Forward Features

There was a time when vehicles weren’t quite so “fancy.” Creature comforts were sparse—mostly because technology was still developing to keep up with customer needs. Many of today’s adults can recall childhood road trips in which few passengers had their own seatbelt, and musical entertainment was provided solely by the radio (or collective singing, if you’re old enough). Thirsty travelers had to wait for the next stop to get a drink, because there was nowhere to hold beverages inside the cabin.

Today, things are much different. Seatbelts are required—and made plentiful within three-row SUVs such as the Chevy Traverse and the Ford Explorer. Radio, Bluetooth, rear-seat entertainment systems, and USB charging ports in every row take care of diversion during trips. And today, adequate cupholders are an absolute must.

While no SUV could possibly keep an entire family in a fantastic mood at all times, the 2022 Traverse offers plenty of features that can at least keep them comfortable. The Traverse offers a choice between a second-row bench seat to accommodate 8 passengers or two captain’s chairs for a total of 7 passengers. Tri-zone automatic climate controls with individual climate settings are also standard across the lineup, cutting back on complaints of being too hot or too cold from the peanut gallery.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto are on board to keep the tunes flowing, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity. In addition, available integrated online features, such as Amazon Alexa and Spotify, pretty much guarantee you won’t need to listen to “The Wheels on the Bus” several times consecutively—that is, unless you want to.

The 2022 Explorer is also equipped to keep passengers satisfied. The seating configuration is a little different, with two seats in the rear row and a three-person bench in the second row. Although, that bench can be replaced with captain’s seats if you only require seating for six. Standard features include WiFi, Bluetooth, and smartphone integration, though moving up the trims adds a premium sound system and a few more USB ports throughout the cabin.

You may still want to pack plenty of games and media for the long haul. However, you can travel in peace of mind knowing that the Traverse and Explorer are doing everything they can to keep everyone happy.

The Pleasure of Getting There

The interior features aren’t all that the 2022 Chevy Traverse and 2022 Ford Explorer offer to families. Under the hood of the 2022 Traverse is a 3.6L V6 engine, good for 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Able to tow up to 5,000 lbs, this vehicle also boasts a best-in-class maximum cargo space of 98.2 when the second and third row are folded down. This level of capability is undeniably helpful, whether loaded up with tools, camping equipment, furniture, or a full crew of passengers.

The 2022 Explorer includes three different engines across the lineup. The standard on most models is a turbocharged 2.3L 4-cylinder, which offers 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid version is available for the Limited and Platinum trims, though this requires substantially costly upgrades. To get a 400 horsepower 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6, choose the ST, King Ranch, or Platinum trim. These 3 high-end trims may break the bank for most American drivers, though.

With all seats of the new Ford Explorer occupied, you’ll have 18.2 cu.ft. of space to play with, which increases to 87.8 cu.ft. once all rear seats are folded. Towing capacity of the Explorer tops out at 5,600 lbs when equipped with all the necessary (paid) upgrades.

The back up camera system is shown on the 2022 Chevy Traverse.

Staying Safe Along the Way

Safety is important to all drivers, regardless of how many passengers are along for the ride. As a result, both Chevy and Ford have been careful to add a robust package of standard safety and driver assistance equipment to their three-row SUVs. Both offer all-wheel drive as an option across the lineup, as well, for added preparedness when the terrain or weather conditions change.

The Traverse includes Chevy’s Safety Assist package, which offers front collision alert with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, and automatic high beams. Moving up the trims increases the features in this package, adding rear pedestrian alert, an innovative vibrating safety alert seat, and adaptive cruise control.

The Explorer includes the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of features. Standard offerings in this package include forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and a rear-view camera. Additional features across the trim levels include parking assistance technology and adaptive cruise control.

So…Which One Will It Be?

Choosing between the 2022 Chevy Traverse and the 2022 Ford Explorer can be tricky at first glance. Both have been carefully engineered to provide the very best for your family. Both have a lengthy track record of performance and safety, and include plenty of well-considered features that make them appealing to those who need to haul around small crowds.

There will be many factors at play that aren’t covered in this article nor necessarily included in the manufacturer’s window sticker. How many toy cars fit in the rear cupholders? Will a certain precious stuffed animal like the color? Can the family dog reach the steering wheel? Every family has its own unique needs, some of which fly in the face of logic. But that’s what makes each family special, and why you want to be sure you have the best possible vehicle to carry them to and from school, work, play, and vacation.

However, the time to decide will ultimately arrive. Take your time, and be sure to test drive a few different models. You may find that the Ford Explorer doesn’t feel nearly as big as you think it should, based on the dimensions. You may find that one fits better in your garage, or that it’s easier to load car seats into the Chevy Traverse’s ample seating arrangement. Our preferences are personal, but thanks to thoughtful manufacturers like Chevy and Ford, it’s not impossible to find a 3-row SUV that suits your family just right.