Large SUVs are a huge and broad market, with a range of different offerings from economy to luxurious. The majority of the SUVs and crossover SUVs offer decent gas mileage, plenty of room for friends and family to ride along and a modest amount of store behind the seats. Technological toys are definitely not a given--several of the options in this class for the 2012 model year have only very basic technology installed at the factory.
The Chevrolet Traverse and the Toyota Highlander are relatively well-matched in terms of price, with the Traverse being ever so slightly more expensive than the Highlander. The look of the two vehicles is quite similar as well, with the Highlander having a slightly more blocky exterior where the Traverse is a little more rounded.
As expected, the Traverse has a raft of additional features that come standard on the vehicle, such as the driver information center, trip computer - all items that are optional on the lower-priced Highlander. The Traverse has an 8-passenger seating configuration, where the Highlander loses space for one passenger but does offer more complex driver-side seat controls. Oddly enough, heated front seats only come in the Highlander and not the higher-cost Traverse and rear seats for the Highlander are a bucket instead of the expected 60/40 split provided by the Traverse.
The Traverse again surprises in that it doesn't offer an option for an in-car DVD system as the Highlander does, nor does it have the Highlander's voice activated navigation system or 2nd and 3rd row LCD screens. Both vehicles offer optional Bluetooth compatibility, which is highly recommended.
Safety and Security
The Traverse and the Highlander provide a high level of safety and comfort, even though neither offering is incredibly exciting. Tons of standard features and a comfortable and controlled ride keep both at the top of the "must have" list for many drivers. Both vehicles lose a few stars on the frontal barrier crash test ratings and rollover ratings, but only the Highlander loses a star on the overall crash test ratings.
Large crossover SUVs are the best of both worlds - a larger and safer footprint, while offering decent fuel economy at 24 and 25 mpg for the Traverse and Highlander respectively. None of the statistics nor the looks are incredibly exciting, but you do get a diverse group of features for the price.