The Car Connection Chevrolet Traverse Overview
The Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover SUV that can seat up to eight passengers. It's as close to a minivan as you can buy from Chevrolet, provided you can do without the requisite sliding side doors.
The chief rivals for the Traverse include the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Ford Flex. It's also in direct competition with the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, with which it shares some of its mechanicals. (The Enclave is more closely related, the GMC has moved to a different platform.)
For 2018, the Traverse has been fully redesigned for the first time in nearly a decade. It's slightly larger than its already rather big predecessor, with all of that extra girth going toward improving interior space. Its looks are both a little more angular and a little more SUV-like; from a distance, it could almost be a Chevrolet Tahoe—but the two are wholly unrelated vehicles. Where the Tahoe is a traditional body-on-frame SUV with a relatively low-tech suspension that's designed for towing and more severe duty use, the Traverse features a unibody design and a car-like suspension.
MORE: Read our 2017 Chevrolet Traverse review
The Traverse was redesigned for the 2018 model year. It's a ground-up redo of a model that first hit the market all the way back in 2009—but its predecessor aged remarkably well. This latest model adopts some styling cues from Chevy's sedan lineup, most notably its sharper grille and sculpted side profile. Even though it's a couple of inches longer than the old model, it hides its extra size well.
Inside, the Traverse features some updated safety and convenience tech, plus improved cargo and passenger room. A new High Country trim level arrives for 2018 as the range-topping model with its own styling touches and more premium features.
Under the new Traverse's hood sits a more powerful 3.6-liter V-6 that now puts out 305 horsepower, a 20 hp improvement over the 2017's same-size V-6. A new 9-speed automatic is the only gearbox on offer, but buyers again have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. An RS model is also now part of the lineup with its own 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 255 hp; it's an odd choice given it is only rated at 23 mpg on the highway compared to the 25 mpg of the front-wheel drive V-6.
Chevrolet Traverse history
The Chevy Traverse entered the automaker's lineup for the 2009 model year. At the time, it was engineered as a replacement for both the Chevy minivan at the time, the Uplander, and the mid-size TrailBlazer sport-utility vehicle. Since then, it's become a perennial best-seller for Chevy, in a niche somewhere between the five-passenger Equinox crossover and the big Tahoe and Suburban truck-based utility vehicles.
Since launch, the Traverse has been powered by a competent 3.6-liter V-6 that features direct injection. Models equipped with a dual exhaust put out 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, while single-exhaust Traverses make do with 281 hp and 266 lb-ft. The engine offers good low-end torque, making 90 percent of the peak number available from 2,500 to 6,000 rpm. Acceleration is solid, and the Traverse is even a good option for those with occasional towing needs.
The powertrain also affords it good fuel economy and performance. Despite weighing around 5,000 pounds, the Chevrolet Traverse achieves fuel economy of 15 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined in front-wheel-drive guise—much better than the more truck-like TrailBlazer it succeeded. All-wheel-drive versions fare slightly worse, achieving ratings of 15/22/17 mpg, according to the EPA. The impressive figures (for such a big vehicle) are helped by the Traverse's 6-speed automatic transmission. Upshifts are very smooth, although the transmission can hesitate when downshifts are called for.
There's seating for up to eight in the three-row Traverse; second-row captain’s chairs are also available, which reduce carrying capacity to seven. The Chevrolet Traverse is also one of the safer vehicles in its class, scoring well in independent crash testing and in NHTSA crash tests as well. It's one of very few models to offer an airbag between the front two occupants.
The Chevrolet Traverse was available in three trims—LS, LT, and Premier—as well as front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. All models have four-wheel independent suspension and StabiliTrak stability control, as well as wheel sizes measuring 17, 18, or 20 inches. Some of the vehicle’s options include a rearview camera, a power liftgate, a DVD player and XM Satellite Radio, plus heated and cooled front seats. Higher trims can also be fitted with a rear spoiler, 20-inch aluminum wheels, a dual-exhaust system, perforated leather, and a panoramic sunroof.
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse was given a refreshed appearance, with a new front end more like the one on the Malibu sedan, as well as taillights similar to those on the Camaro. Also new to the Traverse lineup was the Chevrolet MyLink system, which includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, enabling smartphone integration as well as easy streaming—with a smartphone and data plan—of Pandora and Stitcher smartphone-based entertainment.
More brightwork was used on the outside, and interior materials were significantly improved, but other than that the design was mostly unchanged. The powertrain got some new programming, although the V-6 and 6-speed automatic remain mechanically the same. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts were included on the LTZ; and the front center airbag was made standard on all models.
For 2015, Chevy altered the Traverse's 18-inch wheel design, added Siri Eyes Free functionality to the infotainment system, and changed some exterior colors. A new interior color combination was also added to the list of available treatments. Few changes were made for the 2016 and 2017 model years as Chevy prepared to replace the Traverse with a new crossover for the 2018 model year.