For the ever-increasing number of people shopping for an SUV, there are a dizzying number of choices. Those include the 2020 Honda Pilot and the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse, two alarmingly similar midsize SUVs.
It’s no wonder that these two vehicles frequently end up topping shoppers’ shortlists, but how does anyone choose? Complicating things further, U.S. News & World Report declared a tie between the Honda Pilot and Chevy Traverse — along with three other SUVs — in its list of ‘Best Midsize SUVs for 2020.’ For all their similarities, the Pilot and Traverse offer different features and provide value in different ways.
2020 Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot is a three-row SUV veteran, having been around for nearly 20 years and consistently earning top safety and reliability ratings.
Although it’s safe to say no one buys the Pilot for its cutting-edge styling — drivers and industry critics alike think it looks too much like a minivan — its impeccable safety reputation and surprising off-road chops more than make up for it.
It has just one engine, a 3.5-liter V6 with 280 horsepower, but it can tow up to 5,000 pounds and be configured with all-wheel drive, which includes Sand, Snow, and Mud driving modes.
Inside, the Honda Pilot offers near best-in-class passenger and cargo room, with 83.9 cubic feet of storage when both rows of rear seats are folded. A 5-inch infotainment system is standard, but it’s not touchscreen and doesn’t include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration; you’ll have to spring for a higher-tier model for those options.
Honda Sensing Suite, the brand’s package of advanced active safety features, comes standard and is considered among the best in the class. Included are automatic high beams, a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and more. Curiously, Honda excluded blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors, both basic driver-assist features.
The Chevrolet Traverse
The Chevy Traverse has been around for just over a decade and has earned a reputation as being stylish and almost shockingly roomy. In fact, with a class-leading 98.2 cubic feet of cargo space, the Traverse has more storage capacity than even its full-size sibling, the Tahoe.
Aside from being roomy, the Traverse’s interior is also comfortable and sleek. Connectivity is one area where the Chevy Traverse really shines, and it comes standard with a user-friendly 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and six USB ports.
Like the Honda Pilot, the 2021 Chevy Traverse has just one engine, a 3.6-liter V6 with 310 horsepower that can tow up to 5,000 pounds. All-wheel drive is available on all except the base model Traverse L. While the Traverse comes equipped with a number of innovative features such as Teen Driver with Buckle-to-Drive (which, according to Chevrolet is an industry first), the SUV is surprisingly light on standard safety features.
It does include automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and a handy rear-seat reminder, but omits features that are becoming almost universally standard, like adaptive cruise control. U.S. News & World Report put it best when it wrote that the Traverse “isn’t a perfect vehicle,” but it “has a lot of positives and not many negatives.”
It’s worth noting that Chevy planned to unveil a refreshed Traverse for 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has announced that it will now be released in 2022.
The bottom line: does the Pilot or Traverse offer the most value?
Truthfully, the “better” vehicle comes down strictly to personal preference, as these SUVs are incredibly well-matched. The Traverse has a much better infotainment system, but the Pilot includes far more advanced safety and driver-assist features.
While the Traverse technically has more cargo capacity, the Pilot’s interior includes clever storage solutions that provide a surprising amount of usable space.
If you’re looking for the most value in terms of strictly spending less money, a base-model Chevy Traverse L comes in at $29,800, while a base-model Honda Pilot LX starts at $33,370. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll get less standard features in the lower-trim Traverse models than in the Pilot.