2021 Chevy Traverse earns Top Safety Pick; 2021 GMC Acadia does not

August 6, 2021

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse three-row SUV earns a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, the nonprofit safety agency announced Friday. Completed crash-test scores and improved LED headlights on the top Premier and High Country trims qualified the Traverse this year, but it still doesn't come standard with automatic emergency braking that nearly every other three-row rival includes as standard equipment. 

The 2020 Traverse did not qualify for the safety recognition because the passenger-side small overlap test hadn't been completed. The test, which simulates the vehicle's front passenger side slamming into a wall or tree at 40 mph, is one of the trickier ones for vehicles to earn a top "Good" rating. The NHTSA gave the Traverse five stars, despite a four-star rating for frontal crash tests. The 2021 Traverse earned "Good" ratings in all six crash tests from the IIHS, as did its twin, the 2021 GMC Acadia.  

2021 Chevrolet Traverse in IIHS testing

2021 Chevrolet Traverse in IIHS testing

2021 Chevrolet Traverse in IIHS testing

2021 Chevrolet Traverse in IIHS testing

The Acadia did not earn a TSP because its standard and available headlights rated at "Marginal." The headlight tests represent the latest hurdle for automakers to climb in order to earn the industry's most rigorous safety award: The Top Safety Pick+ honor depends on standard headlights rated at least "Acceptable."

Three different headlight systems are available on the 2021 Traverse. The HID projector lights on L, LS, LT, and RS trims earned "Poor" ratings for inadequate visibility on curves and for creating glare for oncoming drivers. Only the LED projector headlights on top Premier and High Country trims earn the Traverse the venerated safety rating. 

The 2021 Traverse earns "Superior" ratings in avoiding or mitigating crashes with either of its available automatic emergency braking systems, the IIHS found. The mid-grade system was better at stopping impacts with pedestrians than the more expensive "enhanced" system offered by GM. The Arcadia was rated at least "Advanced" for its ability to stop impacts with other cars. 

The only other mainstream three-row SUVs without standard automatic emergency braking outside of the GM family is the 2021 Dodge Durango. The 2022 Buick Enclave was updated to include it, but it remains to be seen if the 2022 Traverse and Arcadia will follow. 

For a full list of 2021 TSP and TSP+ winners by class, visit our coverage here

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