The 2020 GMC Acadia and 2020 Chevrolet Traverse aren’t remarkable for any reason—and that’s reason enough to look at them.
The two crossovers from General Motors are more distantly related now (they used to be much closer in size) and offer different takes on the three-row family-vehicle idea. The Traverse is a rounded corner; rated PG for “Pretty Generic.” The Acadia, by contrast, is more muscular: a boxy shape, a little ‘tude, and an off-road package or luxury trim away from under- or over-dressing to your next dinner party.
The race between both is nearly too close to call. The Traverse earned a 6.0 TCC Rating, the Acadia notches a 6.2 TCC Rating. Numbers aren’t the whole story, though (every accountant knows that). So what follows is the rest of the story.
Families looking for a budget-balling, bling-tastic or paper-tiger-tough, off-road-adjacent three-row crossover, your answers are the Acadia Denali and Acadia AT4. If it must haul a gaggle of little-leaguers and their gear, the Traverse is more spacious. You’re welcome to read the rest of the words, but GM has answered your questions already.
Families looking for a very low-cost, bare-bones three-row crossover have a more difficult decision to make. The good news: The base Traverse L and base Acadia SL cost the same $30,995, including destination, right down to the nickel. The bad news: Those crossovers largely only exist for their teaser prices. As of March 2020, there were only five base models of each out of thousands of Acadias and Traverses on dealer lots across the country. We’ll take our chances with the scratch-off tickets instead.
The next best for both is the $34,095 Traverse LS and the $34,995 Acadia SLE with front-wheel drive. The Acadia looks a little better and has a few better amenities including an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for infotainment and blind-spot monitors, but it’s saddled with an anemic 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 193 horsepower. By contrast, the Traverse LS gets a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6, six USB chargers, and more space for less money. It gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen, however. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the Traverse’s final cost, but $2,400 to the Acadia’s bottom line because GMC subs in a more powerful 2.0-liter turbo-4 with AWD. Advantage: Traverse.
2020 Chevrolet Traverse
In the middle, where our recommended trims are, there’s more daylight. The 2020 Traverse LT Cloth with an active safety package that adds automatic emergency braking (which should be standard equipment anyway) costs $41,020 with all-wheel drive. That includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone software, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, navigation, remote start, and six USB chargers. The $44,685 Acadia SLT with active safety features (again, a spend-up extra) has mostly the same equipment except for Bose premium audio and leather upholstery. (The Traverse LT can be equipped with leather upholstery for $1,900 more if needed.) Advantage: Traverse.
There’s a pattern forming. Generally speaking, the Traverse is less expensive (except for very top, High Country trims) than a comparable Acadia. The Acadia Denali and AT4 don’t have direct competition from the Traverse, so steer there if they fall within your budget and priorities for a near-luxury ride or off-roadish crossover.
For everything else, the Traverse offers more space for less money than the Acadia. Maybe that’s what’s remarkable about it after all.