Class: Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 224
Fuel used: 11.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 18.8 mpg
Driving mix: 80% city, 20% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/27/21 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $41,150 (not including $945 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Dual Skyscape Sunroof ($1400), Trailering Equipment ($650), Front License Plate Mount ($40)
Price as tested: $44,185
The great: Excellent passenger and cargo room, good road manners for a large vehicle
The good: Satisfying powertrain
The not so good: Some desirable safety features are restricted to upscale trim levels
Chevrolet kicked off a significant reshuffling of its SUV lineup beginning with the 2018 model year. A redesigned 2018 Equinox was launched on an all-new, notably smaller platform that put it more squarely in the compact crossover SUV category. The midsized Traverse is also redesigned for 2018, only it moves in the opposite direction—it’s longer in wheelbase and a bit larger overall than its predecessor. The now-larger size gap between the Equinox and the Traverse is slated to be filled by a new Blazer crossover SUV that is expected to launch as a 2019 model.
The Traverse was previously based on the same basic platform as the GMC Acadia, but that is no longer the case. The Acadia was downsized for 2017, and the forthcoming Blazer is slated to share that platform. That leaves the Traverse at the top of GM’s crossover-SUV lineup, a slot it shares with the Buick Enclave—which is also redesigned for 2018. If you want to go bigger than a Traverse or Enclave, you have to step up to GM’s really big dogs: the Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, or Cadillac Escalade ESV. None of those extra-large body-on-frame SUVs are quite as maneuverable and tractable in everyday use as the Traverse or Enclave, however.
With an overall length of 204.3 inches and a wheelbase of 120.9 inches, the Traverse straddles the line between the midsize and large SUV classes; it’s surprisingly comparable to the full-size Chevy Tahoe (which measures 204 inches long overall on a 116-inch wheelbase). Despite the upsized dimensions, the Traverse sheds about 400 pounds compared to its predecessor.
Naturally, those dimensions translate to excellent interior room for both passengers and cargo. Second- and third-row headroom and legroom are class leading—they’re comparable with the cavernous Volkswagen Atlas—and maximum cargo volume is best in class regardless of how you slice it. There’s 23 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seat, which grows to 58.1 with the third row folded and 98.2 with the both the second and third rows folded.
We appreciated the new “Smart Slide” second-row seat, which slides forward even with a child seat installed to ease access to the third row. However, we wish it was offered on the driver’s side as well as the passenger side, as the Volkswagen Atlas does. Second-row accommodations are comfortable for big and tall folks, but the third-row seats are best suited for pre-teens and smaller adults—and even with the sliding second-row seat, getting into the third row takes some dexterity.
The 2018 Traverse model lineup spans a broad range in equipment and price; the entry-level L model starts out at $30,925, and the line-topping High Country model starts at $53,095. Our tester was a front-wheel-drive “3LT Leather” model, which sits in the middle of the Traverse model lineup. Above it are the sporty RS (which is available only with a 257-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and front-wheel drive), the FWD and AWD Premier, and the High Country (which is AWD only). Both the RS and High Country are new additions for 2018.
The 3LT Leather comes pretty well equipped with standard features such as rear park-assist sensors, rear cross-traffic alert with blind-spot monitor, 360-degree surround-vision camera display, remote start, power rear liftgate, 20-inch aluminum wheels, Bose-brand 10-speaker sound system, tri-zone automatic climate control. Also standard are GM’s Teen Driver monitoring features, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and Chevrolet’s MyLink 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality.
However, our tester was NOT equipped with a forward collision warning system or lane keep assist/lane departure warning. To get those, you’ll need to step up to the Premier or High Country models—a forward collision alert system with low-speed forward automatic braking is available on Premier models, and an upgraded system with front automatic braking with Intelligent Brake Assist and Collision Avoidance Braking is standard on the High Country.
We appreciated the large virtual “buttons” and quick response times of the MyLink infotainment interface, and the climate controls were straightforward as well. The interior materials were mostly on par with other mid-line class competitors, but the overall ambiance was a bit lackluster.
Powertrain performance is a strong point. Save for the aforementioned RS model, all Traverses come with a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine supplies ready power for most driving situations, and the 9-speed automatic transmission is alert and smooth. We never felt the transmission “hunting” for gears, like we have in some 9- and 10-speed gearboxes we’ve tested.
The new Traverse is one of the largest crossover SUVs you can buy, but it feels smaller than it is from behind the wheel. The steering feel is nicely balanced for close-quarters maneuvering, and the turning radius is fairly tight, which makes pulling into cramped parking spots easier. All-around visibility is good as well. Ride quality is pleasant and absorbent, though the Traverse is not very engaging on curvy roads. If you’re looking for a three-row SUV with a more dynamic driving personality, we’d steer you toward the Mazda CX-9 or Honda Pilot.
There’s no shortage of impressive contenders in the plus-size three-row midsize crossover category. The Chevrolet Traverse is not without its shortcomings, but its responsive powertrain, generous cargo capacity, and comfortable ride make it well worth considering if you’re shopping Toyota Highlanders, Honda Pilots, and Volkswagen Atlases.
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