In the early days, third-row SUVs were oversized, cumbersome vehicles that lumbered down the streets, commanding attention and caution from everyone on the road. Thankfully, the automotive industry is inherently innovative, and today, these SUVs are just as agile and responsive as much smaller SUVs. The size is still there, but drivers can now appreciate a large 8 passenger vehicle that doesn’t feel like it requires an escort vehicle to drive down city streets. Take the 2021 Chevy Traverse vs 2021 Honda Pilot as an example.
The 2021 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Honda Pilot are two very popular three-row SUVs that not only provide seating for up to 8 passengers but look incredibly cool while doing so. Intelligently designed both inside and out, these vehicles each provide a good-looking exterior, a highly functional interior, and a more comfortable level of drivability than ever before. So how do you choose which vehicle goes home with you? Take a look at the two side by side to get a feel for which one deserves a spot in your garage.
Power and Capability: 2021 Chevy Traverse vs 2021 Honda Pilot
One very helpful innovation in the realm of 8 passenger vehicles is providing plenty of power to get all of those passengers and their stuff from place to place. Historically speaking, full-size SUVs were slow and took their time on the journey. Today, the 2021 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Honda Pilot have each been given engines that have improved drivability to a new level.
The 2021 Chevy Traverse is powered by a 3.6L V6 engine that provides 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, but all-wheel drive is optional on all but the base L trim. For those who choose front-wheel drive, expect a fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon city and 27 miles per gallon highway. All wheel drive models typically lose a little bit of economy, but the Traverse’s engineering manages to make that loss minimal, with all-wheel drive models getting 17 miles per gallon city and 25 miles per gallon highway.
When properly equipped, the 2021 Traverse can two up to 5,000 pounds. Additionally, drivers of the top High Country trim can enjoy a new dual-clutch transfer system that automatically assists with rear-wheel torque adjustment to send grip to whichever wheel needs it most in less than ideal driving conditions.
The 2021 Honda Pilot includes a direct-injected 3.5L V6 that provides 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Like the Traverse, front-wheel drive is standard, though all-wheel drive is available on all trims and standard on the top Elite trim. Honda has given all wheel drive options a boost with i-VTM4 technology. i-VTM4 is the name of Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management System, which is an automatic torque vectoring system for the rear wheels. This gives the vehicle greater control around corners, in wet weather, and on strange terrain.
The standard front-wheel drive Pilot can receive 20 miles per gallon of fuel economy on city streets, which increases to 27 miles per gallon on the highway. All-wheel drive options drop slightly to 19 miles per gallon city and 26 miles per gallon highway. The all-wheel drive Honda Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while front-wheel drive versions have a towing maximum limited to 3,500 pounds.
Safety and Storage: 2021 Chevy Traverse vs 2021 Honda Pilot
Full-sized SUVs are chosen for two very specific reasons: they can hold a lot of passengers and also a lot of stuff. The 2021 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Honda Pilot have been engineered with lots of space inside, but they also include plenty of safety and driver assistance features to protect your passengers and others on the road.
The standard safety features on the 2021 Chevy Traverse are few but practical. The base L trim offers standard LED daytime running lamps and a rear vision camera, which can definitely be helpful when navigating a three-row SUV in reverse. Additional features can be accessed through optional packages or by moving up through the trim levels. The Premier trim, for example, includes a much more robust package of driver assistance technology, including a Following Distance Indicator with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, and HD Surround Vision, which provides a glimpse of your surroundings from all angles.
All 2021 Honda Pilot trims include Honda’s robust package of safety features, known as Honda Sensing. This package is standard across all trims and includes the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control as a few of the many offerings. A multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines is offered on all models, as well, though the LX trim does not offer dynamic guidelines that adjust perspective as the vehicle moves.
When it comes to storage, the 2021 Traverse provides 98.2 cubic feet of interior storage space. The Smart Slide second-row seat is a great option for providing access to the third row, allowing the second-row seats to slide and tilt forward out of the way. The third-row seats offer a 60/40 split for a variety of passenger/cargo configurations, with a power-folding third-row seat available. Drivers can also take advantage of the optional hands-free power liftgate, along with additional hidden storage compartments for small valuables throughout the cabin.
The 2021 Pilot provides up to 109 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third-row folded. In fact, Honda offers several options with this specific purpose in mind, including second and third-row seat covers and seatback protectors on the second-row seats to keep them safe from any wet, muddy, or sharp cargo when they’re folded flat. One-Touch second-row seats are offered on the EX trim and above, and a power tailgate is offered on the EX-L trim and above. The highest trims include hands-free tailgate access. Cargo hooks and small hidden storage bins are also added throughout the cabin to provide loads of options for those looking to stash their valuables.
Trim Options: 2021 Chevy Traverse vs 2021 Honda Pilot
Both the 2021 Chevy Traverse and the 2021 Honda Pilot are offered in multiple distinct trim options to provide a version for everyone’s drive style and budget. The Chevy Traverse starts out with the L trim, which includes essentials such as tri-zone automatic climate control and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display with six USB ports. The step-up LS trim adds a traction-select driving mode system and unlocks the option of all-wheel drive.
The LT trim is divided into Cloth and Leather versions, depending on the type of upholstery you prefer. Here, the features include second-row deluxe bucket seats, which limits seating to 7 but adds a new level of comfort. The power-operated tailgate becomes a feature here, along with a larger 8-inch display screen.
The Traverse RS trim includes additional safety features, as well as dark aluminum wheels and black accent features, such as roof rails and emblems, while the Premier trim includes perforated premium heated and ventilated leather first and second-row seats. The top trim, the High Country, provides a power sunroof with rear skylight and power-folding third-row seating.
Honda offers the 2021 Pilot in six trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Special Edition, Touring, and Elite. The LX comes well-equipped on the safety and functionality front but lacks some of the comfort and convenience features that enter the picture on the EX trim, such as an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smart app integration and HD radio. The EX also adds a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with heated front seats.
The Special Edition includes dark exterior features and adds the hands-free feature to the power tailgate, along with a wireless phone charger. The Touring trim includes a Blu-Ray entertainment system for the rear seats, along with premium audio and Wi-Fi. At the top, the Elite trim features heated front and second-row seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and plenty of automated comfort and convenience features to make driving that much more rewarding.
The Winner Is: The 2021 Chevy Traverse
When it comes to selecting a third-row full-size SUV, it may seem like things like comfort capability and luxury can co-exist with the ability to haul around up to 8 passengers. However, the 2021 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Honda Pilot demonstrate that it is possible to look good, feel good, and drive beautifully with so many valuable assets stashed inside. Both offer engines that are more than capable of standing up to the job, with fuel economy that has improved vastly over the past several decades.
Inside, drivers will appreciate improved safety and driver assistance packages, which work to keep everyone on the road as safe and secure as possible. Drivers will enjoy an array of amenities, based on whichever of the many trims they select. It seems the days of the bulky, unattractive, duty-only SUVs have fallen by the wayside, with new attractive options like the 2021 Chevy Traverse and 2021 Honda Pilot arriving with plenty of power, looks, and features to encourage drivers to explore more options. However, if we had to choose, we’d say the 2021 Chevy Traverse is the better option of the two.