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2020 Highlander vs. Traverse Comparison

Built on the same platform as the legendary Camry, the Toyota Highlander serves as a mid-size SUV. It debuted for the first time in North America in January of 2001.

Now in its fourth generation, the 2020 Highlander offers five trims that all feature Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0), as well as Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility. Compared to Chevrolet’s standard safety features, Toyota's TSS 2.0 can't be beat.

The history of the Chevrolet begins seven years after the Highlander arrived. It debuted in 2008 for the 2009 model year built on the same platform as the Buick Enclave and the GMC Acadia. Though now marketed as a mid-size SUV, Chevy originally called it a full-size SUV. The 2020 Traverse now has seven trims and is in its second generation with the Premier trim offering a special Redline Edition.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Highlander L FWD has a higher EPA-estimated rating of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG compared to the base trim Traverse. The fuel economy EPA-estimated rating of the 2020 Traverse L FWD falls below with a 18/27/21(city/highway/combined) MPG.

Let's dive further into the comparison between these two vehicles in terms of safety, reliability, and performance.

Published Date: 07/16/2020

interior of 2020 Highlander


  • The 2020 Highlander offers more standard active safety features than the 2020 Traverse.
  • Drivers will need to upgrade to the Traverse RS or higher to receive comparable standard safety features to TSS 2.0.
  • Safety Connect® 1-year trial is another standard feature that comes with the Toyota Highlander.

All 2020 Toyota Highlander trims include Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0).

Standard Safety Features

Standard even at the base grade, the Highlander comes with a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA).

Comparatively, the 2020 Traverse has a Driver Confidence II Package which includes similar features to TSS 2.0. including Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, and Front Pedestrian Braking. IntelliBeam® headlamps come standard on the Traverse RS trim or higher. These features are not available on the base model Traverse.

One thing that comes standard on both the Highlander and Traverse are eight airbags. However, another benefit of the Highlander is that drivers also gain access to a three-year trial subscription to Safety Connect®. This offers Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, and an Automatic Collision Notification. Traverse comes with OnStar® compatibility.

For more comprehensive safety features at no extra cost, regardless of trim, drivers may prefer the 2020 Highlander.

2020 Highlander towing a boat


  • The Toyota brand has a long history of producing reliable and well-built vehicles. That standard applies to the 2020 Highlander.
  • All new Toyotas come with ToyotaCare, a scheduled-maintenance plan and roadside assistance package.
  • Both the Traverse and Highlander offer similar Basic and Powertrain warranties.

Toyota vehicles come with an extensive history of reliability and quality. The 2020 Highlander continues this tradition starting with the amount of time Toyota has had to improve the vehicle. Since 2001, Toyota has continuously improved the safety and reliability features of this SUV. Toyota customers can count on top notch quality and care.

Toyota's Consistent Reputation for Reliability

With every purchase or lease of a new Toyota, drivers receive the benefits that come with ToyotaCare. This program includes a factory-scheduled maintenance plan for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. It also includes a 24/7 roadside assistance program for two years and unlimited miles to help handle life’s curveballs.

On the other hand, Chevrolet offers 24-hour Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Although this program lasts longer than ToyotaCare, Chevrolet Complete Care only covers one oil and oil filter change, tire rotations, and DEF tank refills for diesel-equipped models for the first 12 months of ownership.

Both vehicles offer standard three-year, 36,000-mile Basic and five-year, 60,000-mile Powertrain warranties. Chevy offers an anti-corrosion warranty for six years or 100,00 miles. In contrast, Toyota offers its Corrosion Perforation warranty for five years and unlimited miles.

Two 2020 Highlanders driving down a wet road


  • The 2020 Traverse affords 310 HP while the 2020 Highlander delivers 295 HP.
  • The Highlander has multiple trims that provide a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs. Only the Traverse High Country has a 5,000 lb. towing capacity.
  • All Highlander trims have better gas mileage estimates than the Traverse.

On top of impressive fuel economy numbers, the 2020 Highlander also performs well when it comes to handling and towing.

High Towing Capacity and Better Fuel Economy

While both vehicles come equipped with standard V6 engines, the 2020 Traverse offers 310 HP and 266 lb.-ft. torque. The 2020 Highlander delivers 295 HP and 263 lb.-ft. torque. On the plus side, multiple Highlander trims provide a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs. Only one trim of the Traverse, the high-end High Country, can match it.

It's also worth mentioning that the Highlander L FWD has a higher MPG estimate at an EPA-estimated rating of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined). In comparison, the Traverse L FWD has an EPA-estimated rating of 18/27/21(city/highway/combined) MPG.

Even at the higher trim level, Highlander still has better gas mileage. Looking at the Highlander Limited AWD vs. the Traverse RS AWD, Highlander drivers can expect an EPA-estimated 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating while the Traverse gets an EPA-estimated 17/25/20 (city/highway/combined).

The 2020 Highlander also has a better turning diameter at 37.4 ft. to the Traverse’s 39.0 ft. If you're looking for more towing power, better gas mileage estimates, and a smoother turn radius, the Toyota Highlander wins this category.

Person getting into a red 2020 Highlander

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Traverse

  • Although the Traverse base trim has a lower starting MSRP, the Highlander makes up for it with its abundance of standard features included in the manufacturer suggested price.
  • The 2020 Highlander has higher MPG EPA-estimated ratings than the Traverse.
  • Along with its other standard features, the Toyota Highlander offers Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0).

Launched in 2001, the Toyota Highlander has been on the vehicle market longer than the Chevy Traverse. In contrast, Chevrolet introduced the Traverse in 2009. Although the Highlander base trim starts at $34,600, it offers more standard features than the Traverse. The Traverse base trim starts at $29,800, but customers will need to purchase additional upgrades or go with a higher trim to compare to the Highlander.

Both vehicles come equipped with V6 engines at all trim levels. However, only the 2020 Traverse High Country has a 5,000 lb. towing capacity. The same towing capacity is offered on multiple 2020 Highlander grades and configurations.

The Traverse base trim comes in second with an EPA-estimated rating of 18/27/21 (city/highway/combined) MPG vs. the Highlander L's EPA-estimated rating of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG.

Another category where the Highlander makes up for what the Traverse lacks is safety. All trims of the 2020 Highlander feature standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0). This includes features like Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) and Lane Tracing Assist (LTA). The Traverse L doesn't have the option for these advanced add-ons. You would have to upgrade to the LT Cloth edition starting at $35,400 to gain access to extra-cost available upgrades like Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Alert.

Drivers who want more standard features with a focus on safety can see the clear winner of this mid-size SUV head to head: the 2020 Toyota Highlander.