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2021 Highlander vs. Traverse Comparison

SUVs have become more popular in recent history. These days, you can get an SUV as small as a sedan or as big as a full-size van. In an already versatile class of vehicles, mid-size SUVs like the Highlander exude versatility. They're roomy, powerful, have the latest interior touches, and come packed with advanced active safety features.

Now in its fourth generation, the 2021 Highlander offers ten trims options that all include Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). The Traverse has comparable TSS 2.5+ features in their safety suite called Chevy Safety Assist. However, it does not come standard on the base trim.

Other standard features you can look forward to in the 2021 Highlander and Traverse are Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility.

Enjoy your tunes without worrying about where you'll fill up next in the Highlander L FWD which has an EPA-estimated MPG of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined). The Highlander also has hybrid engine options for even more impressive fuel economy, such as the Hybrid LE with FWD which has EPA-estimated ratings of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined) MPG. Comparatively, the 2021 Traverse L FWD has an EPA-estimated MPG of 18/27/21 (city/highway/combined) and you won't find a hybrid engine available for any 2021 Traverse.

Find out where else the Highlander and Traverse stand out in the categories of standard safety, fuel efficiency, and towing performance.

Published Date: 06/23/2021

Interior of 2021 Highlander

Safety

  • All Highlander models come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+).
  • The Traverse's own safety suite doesn't come standard on the base model Traverse L.
  • The Highlander comes with a three-year trial subscription to Safety Connect®. The Traverse comes with OnStar® and Chevrolet Connected Services capabilities, but it lacks a trial subscription.

Vehicle makers today are committed to safety, especially in family-friendly categories, like SUVs. While you're driving around with precious cargo, know that the 2021 Highlander has you covered.

Standard Safety Features

All 2021 Toyota Highlander trims come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). This active suite of safety features includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist(LDAw/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA).

The Chevrolet Traverse also has its own safety suite called Chevy Safety Assist. It has comparable features like Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and IntelliBeam. However, these features don't come standard on the base trim Traverse L. The Chevy Safety Assist package becomes available on the LT Cloth. For most of these driver-assistive technologies standard, you'd need to get the Traverse RS or higher. To get Adaptive Cruise Control standard, you'll need the Traverse High Country.

On top of all that, Highlander drivers also gain access to a three-year trial subscription of Safety Connect®. This offers Roadside Assistance, Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, and Automatic Collision Notification. The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse is OnStar® & Chevrolet Connected Services capable, however, you will need to purchase a plan to use similar features like Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Assistance.

For more comprehensive safety features at no extra cost regardless of trim, drivers may prefer the 2021 Highlander.

Driver using the 2021 Highlander touchscreen display

Reliability

  • All Toyotas come with the ToyotaCare plan for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, and includes 24/7 Roadside Assistance for 2 years, unlimited mileage.
  • Chevrolet models come with roadside assistance and Chevy Complete Care, but it only covers maintenance for the first 12 months.
  • Both SUVs offer a standard three-year, 36,000-mile basic and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

When committing to a big investment like a new car, drivers want a vehicle that will last. Warranties that help keep your car running better for longer are a big plus and can help cut down on long-term costs.

ToyotaCare and Warranty Coverage

To prove their commitment to "Quality, Durability, Reliability" all new Toyota vehicles come with ToyotaCare. This program includes factory-scheduled maintenance 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 some of life’s curveballs.

Chevy also offers 24-hour Roadside Assistance for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, the comparable 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.

Looking at warranty coverage, 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. The Highlander also has warranties for its hybrid systems and battery. The warranty for the hybrid system lasts for 96 months/100,000 miles, whichever comes first. The hybrid battery warranty lasts 120 months/150,000 miles, whichever comes first.

2021 Highlander towing a boat

Performance

  • The Highlander has an available hybrid engine. The Traverse doesn't offer a hybrid model.
  • For impressive MPG ratings, whether you choose a hybrid or not, choose the Highlander.
  • The Highlander also comes out ahead in standard towing capabilities with a 5,000 lb. towing capacity. The Traverse can only tow up to 1,500 lbs. without additional equipment.

Performance features help make your drive easier. Whether it's having enough towing power to haul all your gear or the fuel economy ratings that may help to save you gas, the 2021 Highlander has it all.

Power and Fuel Economy

Starting with the heart of the vehicle, both SUVs have standard V6 engines and plenty of horsepower. The Highlander gas models have 295 HP and 263 lb.-ft. torque while the Traverse has 310 HP with 266 lb.-ft. torque. Only the Highlander has a hybrid engine available as well which has a 243 combined net HP and 175 lb.-ft. torque.

When looking at brute strength, the Highlander comes out ahead in towing capability. All gas engine Highlanders come ready to tow up to 5,000 lbs.. The hybrid engine can tow up to 3,500 lbs.. Comparatively, the Traverse has a Max Conventional Trailering load of up to 1,500 lbs. You can add an optional trailering package to bring the Traverse’s max towing to 5,000 lbs., but it will come at an additional cost.

The Highlander has better fuel economy ratings. The Highlander L FWD has an EPA-estimated rating of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG. As mentioned before, the Highlander also has an available hybrid engine across 4 models. The hybrid models with FWD have EPA-estimated MPG ratings of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined). In comparison, the Traverse L FWD has EPA-estimated MPG ratings of 18/27/21 (city/highway/combined). For higher models, like the Traverse RS AWD, the fuel economy ratings go down to an EPA-estimated 17/25/20 (city/highway/combined).

2021 Highlander parked in a parking garage under a skylight

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Traverse

  • The Highlander has impressive standard towing capabilities that the Traverse needs optional equipment to achieve.
  • Only the Highlander comes with a hybrid engine option.
  • If safety is at the top of your list, then the Highlander is the SUV for you.

While the base trim 2021 Highlander L FWD has a higher base MSRP of $35,085 compared to the Traverse L FWD which starts at $30,995, the Traverse doesn't have as many key standard features.

For instance, Traverse trims with FWD all have EPA-estimated ratings of 18/27/21 MPG (city/highway/combined) vs. the Highlander FWD's EPA-estimated MPG rating of 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG. The Highlander also has a hybrid engine with an EPA-estimated MPG rating of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined) for the FWD drivetrain.

The Highlander also has an advantage in terms of standard safety. All 2021 Toyota Highlander trims come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). This active suite of safety features includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist(LDAw/SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), and Road Sign Assist (RSA). The Chevrolet Traverse's Chevy Safety Assist has some comparable features, but Chevy Safety Assist isn't available on the base trim. To get these features you'd need to get the RS or higher.

Although both vehicles have powerful V6 engines, only the 2021 Highlander gas engine models are ready to tow up to 5,000 lbs., while none of the Traverse trims can match it without the purchase of an optional package. Even the Highlander Hybrid models can tow more than the standard Traverse trims.

When it comes to getting the most out of an SUV, one of these vehicles has what you need standard: the 2021 Highlander.