New & Used Chevrolet Traverse: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover utility vehicle that can accommodate as many as eight people and a good amount of cargo. Essentially marketed as a minivan--but without the sliding side doors--the Traverse is in a segment with vehicles like the Ford Flex, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot.
It's also a rival for the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, both of which are built on the same platform. Production of the Chevrolet Traverse and its siblings takes place at GM’s Delta Township plant in Lansing, Michigan.
MORE: Read our 2015 Chevrolet Traverse review
When it went on sale for the 2009 model year, the Traverse replaced two vehicles in the Chevy lineup—the Uplander minivan and the TrailBlazer SUV. It's now one of the mainstays of the range, along with the smaller, five-passenger Chevy Equinox crossover and the recently added Trax compact crossover.
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 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway 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 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The impressive figures (for such a big vehicle) are helped by the Traverse's six-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 safest 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 latest Chevrolet Traverse is available in three levels of trim—LS, LT, and LTZ—as well as front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. All models get 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. Up-spec models 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 latest Malibu sedan, as well as taillights that see influences from the Camaro. Also new to the Traverse lineup was the Chevrolet MyLink system, which includes a 6.5-inch color touch screen, 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, though the V-6 and six-speed remain mechanically the same. Side Blind-Zone Alert and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are now included on the LTZ; and the front center airbag is now standard on all models.
For 2015, Chevy altered the 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 available roster.
Due to GM's recent troubles, the Traverse and its Lambda stablemates have seen a longer than normal product cycle. A replacement is expected for the 2016 model year and should address some of the crossover's packaging issues while also improving the powertrain offerings and fuel economy. At that time, the Traverse and its platform mates may be joined by a three-row crossover from Cadillac, which would be the most luxurious of GM's three-row crossover offerings.