2013 Chevrolet Traverse Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 10, 2013

The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse hits a sweet spot for SUV replacers, with none of the flamboyance of a real SUV and more practical gas mileage and interior space.

The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is a crossover built to replace the minivan in your driveway, and while it may be somewhat lacking the charisma department, charm is hardly the point of this big, mainstream family hauler. It's focused on delivering three rows of seating without the compromises in gas mileage and existential angst that come with SUVs and minivans. On those terms, the Traverse makes good sense.

GM says the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse has "an athletic new exterior design," but it's not much more than a mild refresh of last year's model, touched up with new front- and rear-end styling, Up front, the Traverse features Chevrolet's new face for crossovers, but in back the Camaro-influenced taillamps are more memorable. The Traverse's interior design has been a bit drab, in a class of vehicles that all seem to aim to provide a bit more flair than minivans. There's no radical change here for 2013; but new wood trims and silver accents, contrast stitching, and ambient lighting do help to lift the ambiance.

The Chevrolet Traverse performs in a way that's quick enough for family use, but not at all sporty. Don't expect quickness or agility, as this is a vehicle that doesn't do much from behind the wheel to mask its roughly 5,000 pounds. Power remains provided by a smooth 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet. In the past we've found the six-speed automatic transmission to be lumpy on light acceleration, and slow to downshift when the pedal's to the metal; but for 2013 it features new programming which Chevrolet says results in more confident highway passing power with quicker shifts.

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Both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations are available, but we've noticed that AWD versions do sap a little more power from the experience; as such, the Traverse feels quick enough for its intended family-hauling purpose. Ride and handling have been improved with new rebound springs in the front which helps with roll control. The Traverse will be able to tow up to 5,200 pounds.

If you shy away from minivans, the Chevy Traverse remains one of the roomiest, most comfortable, and most passenger-friendly vehicles you can get. GM has made the most of the seating space in the Traverse, and it's clear the primary purpose is people-moving. Over three rows, there's space for up to eight occupants, with the seats divided into two front buckets and two 60/40-split benches. For the second-row, bench or captain's chairs arrangements are offered, and we'd opt for the bench as the individual seats aren't much more comfortable, yet you sacrifice a seating space. Folding the second and third rows down yields 117.5 cubic feet. As one last jab from the minivan side, the cargo floor in the Traverse does seem a bit high and in turn you don't have quite as much cargo space for large items.

From a functionality standpoint, GM has redesigned and reconfigured the Traverse's climate controls for 2013; they're more straightforward and easier to use; that, combined with more soft-touch materials for the instrument panel and door uppers, as well as new silver-accent details, altogether gives the Traverse a more upscale feel inside.

A new 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, and Chevrolet's new MyLink system is available. The MyLink system is an interface for using Bluetooth streaming with smartphones, as well as Internet radio apps such as Pandora and Stitcher. Climate controls are now easier to use, as they are larger and illuminated at night.

The Traverse, together with the closely related Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, is one of the first vehicles on the market to offer a front center side airbag. Built into the driver's seat, the airbag system helps protect the driver (or the driver and front passenger) from certain types of side impacts. Otherwise, standard safety features include parking sensors, a rearview camera system, hill start assist (to help you start safety on a steep incline), and head-curtain side bags with rollover mitigation technology. And on LTZ models, the Traverse includes Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert—both features that provide alerts to the driver and may help avoid collisions. The Traverse earns some of the best crash-test scores of any vehicle sold in the U.S.

The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is available in three trim levels—LS, LT, and LTZ—with each of them offered in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. LTZ models approach luxury-level, while LS trims are no-fuss (albeit well-equipped) family vehicles. New to the lineup for 2013 is the Chevrolet MyLink system, which includes a 6.5-inch color touch screen, enabling smartphone integration as well as easy streaming of Pandora and Stitcher internet-based entertainment (with your smartphone's data plan).

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