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In the Competition with Chevy's Traverse, Ford's 2015 Explorer Puts Its Foot Down

Author: Fran Mansfield
by Fran Mansfield
Posted: May 25, 2015

The station wagon is on its way out. In its place, a new champion has arisen: the crossover SUV. Automakers are all turning out their own versions now hoping to catch the public’s eye, and Ford and General Motors are no different; Ford offers up its Explorer, while GM offers up its Chevy Traverse. In the end, though, the Explorer surpasses the Traverse in price, power and features.

In performance, the Explorer powers to victory

The 2015 Ford Explorer offers three different engines: a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that puts out more torque than the Chevrolet Traverse's 3.6-liter V-6, a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that exceeds the peak horsepower output from the Traverse's engine, and the ferocious 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that gives drivers extreme performance capabilities, making trips through any terrain that much easier. All come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, and V-6 models give drivers the option of manually shifting gears. The Sport model also comes with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The Explorer’s fuel economy numbers also meet or exceed the EPA efficiency ratings for the Traverse with two of the three engines available. As a bonus, Ford has its Terrain Management System that lets drivers simply twist a dial to adjust the Explorer's four-wheel-drive system for snow, mud or ruts.

The Traverse comes standard with a 281-horsepower 3.6 liter V6, with a six-speed automatic transmission. Although the engine comes with a number of options, the horsepower maxes out at 288 with the dual-exhaust option; buyers do have a choice between standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

Explorer drivers are cradled in comfort

The base Explorer comes equipped with a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals, as well as single-zone climate control with rear auxiliary climate control, a power driver's seat, and a six-speaker audio system that includes auxiliary inputs. It also has a 60/40-split second-row seat and a 50/50-split third-row seat, giving drivers a total of 80.5 cubic feet of cargo room.

Upgrading to the mid-level Explorer XLT gets buyers leather seats, navigation, blind-spot detection with inflatable rear seatbelts, and dual-zone automatic climate control, while Limited and Sport models offer luxury seating, active cruise control, and heated and cooled front seats. As Marty Padgett of The Car Connection wrote, "Audi and BMW are in its crosshairs, Ford says, and the Explorer delivers…The cabin's a knockout."

The Traverse offers three rows of seating like the Explorer, and offers fold-down seats as well. It has a touchscreen with GM’s MyLink system which controls the rearview camera, and comes standard with keyless entry, front and rear air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, cruise control, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary inputs.

For an extra $3,000, one can upgrade to the 1LT model, which brings 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, rear sensors for parking, remote ignition, a power driver seat with eight-way adjustment (with two-way power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and wood-grain trim. The top-of-the line LTZ model starts at just over $42,000 and fully equipped can reach over $47,000.

Safety features push the Explorer even farther ahead

With high-strength boron steel in the A and B-pillars, the Explorer gets high marks for safety. But it doesn’t stop there; Ford is the only automaker with inflatable seat belts, made specifically to keep children safe in the event of an accident. It also comes with Ford's MyKey, which allows drivers to program in a maximum speed and stereo volume to keep younger drivers from doing something they’ll regret later.

Standard safety features include Roll Stability Control and Curve Control, which can sense if you’re going around a curve too quickly and slows the vehicle. Combined with special High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights and optical sensors that sense rain and switch on the wipers, Ford sets a new standard for keeping passengers protected on the roadways.

The Traverse also does well in safety tests, but goes with standard safety features like parking sensors, a rearview camera system, hill start assist, and head-curtain side bags with rollover mitigation technology. It also has four-wheel antilock disc brakes and traction and stability control. Forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring are optional. The Traverse's seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" in government tests for whiplash protection in rear impact crashes.

Advantage: Ford Explorer

The 2015 Ford Explorer comes with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and Chevy matches it for the Traverse; however, given the performance of General Motors in recent years with recalls, some caution is called for. GM also recently cut their warranty back from 100,000 miles on the powertrain to 60,000 miles.

With three separate yet distinctly different engines that cover every need, the 2015 Ford Explorer manages to cover more consumer ground for less money than the Traverse. Add in the Explorer’s available four-wheel-drive for off-road work and a multitude of interior features, and the Explorer becomes the clear choice especially when figuring in price. Although the Traverse is a good vehicle, the Explorer simply outclasses it overall. As wrote, "…this Ford is certainly a good fit for almost any family's garage."

About the Author

a href=http://fordcountry.bizTom Denchel Ford in Prosser, WA is a full-service Ford dealer with a wide selection of new & used vehicles. We serve Yakima, Richland, Sunnyside, Grandview, Toppenish, and West Richland.

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Author: Fran Mansfield

Fran Mansfield

Member since: Sep 12, 2014
Published articles: 6

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