As a parent of a 12-year old I’m always running from here to there, usually with lots of gear in tow. Sometimes we’re transporting Maddie’s friends as well, or headed out of town and often, consolidating my extended family into one vehicle that can hold at least 6. And that’s where the 3-row crossover becomes the star.
It has minivan qualities while preserving a sense of style. And Chevy believes its all-new Traverse is the perfect solution.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Traverse made its debut; a huge sales success with over 100,000 sold this year. Entry level trims seat up to 8 and start in the low 30s while higher trims seat 7 and can top out in the mid-50s. With SUVs fully back in fashion, this Traverse takes on a decidedly more adventurous appearance mirroring the rugged yet elegant styling of GM’s true big boys. It rides upon a 2” longer wheelbase, trades in some of its cargo volume for additional passenger room and has lost a significant amount of weight. The 3.6-liter V6 has been beefed up, now making 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, regardless of how many exhaust pipes it has and is mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. Towing is down slightly with a 5,000 pound maximum.
At the top end is this new High Country trim featuring premium content and the Traverse’s most advanced all-wheel drive system. And, it truly is quite luxurious.
Unique interior trim featuring Loft Brown leather with suede accents, High Country badging, Dual SkyScape sunroof and power fold 3rd row seats are standard while the exterior wears 20” wheels, body-color moldings with chrome inserts and a chrome grille. This one also comes packed with every safety and convenience feature available. The only notable option on my tester is the upcharge Iridescent Pearl Tricoat paint, leading to an MSRP of $54,000; pricier than I guessed but right in step with a Ford Explorer Platinum, a key Traverse competitor.
GM is a master of integrating cutting edge technologies in a user-friendly, non-intimidating way and this Traverse is no exception. I won’t list all of the tech features but the most impressive are the LED headlamps with auto high beams, the rear camera mirror which has trickled down from Cadillac, one of my favorites, a bird’s eye view surround vision camera, adaptive full-speed cruise control with Stop and Go, the only Traverse that has it, a configurable Teen Driver mode, rear seat reminder so that no child is let behind and all of the latest driver assistive technologies.
And there’s this awesome MyLink system with Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and OnStar – a truly wonderful system that works in concert with the driver information display. Wireless device charging is here if your phone accepts it and USB ports are found throughout.
I had a little trouble at first locating the right place for my foot to trigger the gesture controlled tailgate but this bowtie projection leads the way at night. The power fold seats aren’t perfect in that unlike the Land Rover Discovery I recently tested, they don’t automatically position the other seats in order to make sure there’s clearance so it requires a little back and forth on the user’s side.
Despite the significant reduction in total cargo volume the space behind the 3rd row remains virtually the same and its 98 cubic feet with all the seats down is still enough to trounce the Explorer and Honda Pilot. And under the rear floor is a huge cut out for even more stuff. So space is clearly not an issue. As long as those in the 2nd row don’t hog every bit of legroom by sliding all the way back the 3rd row is actually adult-friendly. The curbside 2nd row chair can also slide with a child seat in it…another new feature for Traverse. No rear seat entertainment system here but one is available with or without a DVD player. The only thing that bothers me is the steering wheel…GM makes some ugly, outdated ones and that’s still true here. It is heated, though.
The biggest takeaway from the driver’s seat is the powerful V6 and quiet cabin. There’s nothing spectacular to report on this front but the Traverse’s drivability is very agreeable…from the prowess to quickly get and up go to its balanced ride and handling, it’s got the goods for a premium people mover. And it’s long trip comfortable.
The High Country is the only Traverse to benefit from an automatic locking differential for the exclusive twin clutch all-wheel drive system. This setup saves gas by disconnecting the rear axle when front-drive operation will suffice and also splits up to 100% of the torque between the front and rear axles as well as between the rear wheels for dry-road handling benefits and more nuanced driver control…a setup first seen in the Range Rover Evoque. This knob here lets you select 2-wheel drive, 4 wheel drive and an off-road mode that automatically sends more power to the rear. Gas mileage is rated at 20mpg in combined driving…better than Explorer but not as efficient as Pilot.
Chevy’s done their homework here and it shows in a new high-end 3-row that gives families more of what they want.