2020 Chevrolet Traverse vs. 2019 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the Chevrolet Traverse’s middle seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Acura MDX doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Traverse are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The MDX doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Traverse has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The MDX doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Both the Traverse and the MDX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Chevrolet Traverse is safer than the Acura MDX:

Traverse

MDX

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

216

323

Neck Injury Risk

15.6%

22%

Neck Stress

198 lbs.

244 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

53/40 lbs.

134/382 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Chevrolet Traverse is safer than the Acura MDX:

Traverse

MDX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

69

72

Hip Force

204 lbs.

244 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

52 G’s

Hip Force

716 lbs.

757 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

251

396

Spine Acceleration

34 G’s

37 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The Traverse’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the MDX’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 11 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Traverse’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Traverse’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the MDX’s camshafts. If the MDX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Traverse has a standard 170-amp alternator. The MDX’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 56 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Engine

The Traverse’s 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 20 more horsepower (310 vs. 290) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Traverse uses regular unleaded gasoline. The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Traverse AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (21.7 vs. 19.5 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Chevrolet Traverse higher (6 out of 10) than the Acura MDX (3). This means the Traverse produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the MDX every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

The Traverse stops much shorter than the MDX:

Traverse

MDX

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

130 feet

135 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Traverse has larger tires than the MDX (255/65R18 vs. 245/60R18).

The Chevrolet Traverse’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Acura MDX only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Traverse’s wheelbase is 9.9 inches longer than on the MDX (120.9 inches vs. 111 inches).

The Traverse RS handles at .84 G’s, while the MDX SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the Traverse has a greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (7.6 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the Traverse to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the Traverse uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The MDX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Traverse High Country AWD is quieter than the MDX SH-AWD (67 vs. 68 dB).

Passenger Space

The Traverse has standard seating for 8 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.

The Traverse has 3.2 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front hip room, 1 inch more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 1.8 inches more rear legroom, 3.1 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, 5.4 inches more third row legroom, 7.9 inches more third row hip room and 2.8 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.

Cargo Capacity

The Traverse’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.

Traverse

MDX

Behind Third Seat

23 cubic feet

15.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

57.8 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

98.2 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Traverse High Country’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Traverse Premier/High Country’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The MDX doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Traverse can tow a minimum of 1500 pounds.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Traverse and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Traverse is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The MDX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Traverse LS/LT/RS/Premier/High Country’s available exterior PIN entry system. The MDX doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its extra cost AcuraLink can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Traverse’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The MDX’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Consumer Reports rated the Traverse’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the MDX’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Traverse has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Chevrolet Traverse Premier/High Country has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The MDX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

The Traverse will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Traverse will retain 46.83% to 49.78% of its original price after five years, while the MDX only retains 42.09% to 45.69%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Traverse is less expensive to operate than the MDX because typical repairs cost much less on the Traverse than the MDX, including $209 less for a muffler, $37 less for front brake pads, $178 less for a starter, $932 less for fuel injection, $106 less for a fuel pump, $131 less for front struts and $500 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Traverse will be $6425 to $11002 less than for the Acura MDX.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Traverse outsold the Acura MDX by almost three to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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