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The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse is a spacious, comfortable, and reasonably responsive vehicle. What's lacking might be charm; but some parents will be happy just to avoid a minivan.
The Chevy Traverse is essentially a vehicle designed and engineered to those who just a few years ago might have found themselves bewildered at the lack of large family vehicles. Although it might build on some of the styling cues of GM SUVs, the Traverse is essentially a tall station wagon. For today's biggest families, who are concerned about image and features, yet also space, comfort, and safety, the Traverse adds up to a very smart pick.
The design of the Traverse has seen very little change since its original introduction in 2009; last year it was given a minor touch-up in the front and rear, although it's far from what GM termed "an athletic new exterior design." Although the face is a bit fresher, we're more attracted to the Camaro-influenced taillamps, which break through a factory-farm of same-as crossover designs. Inside, the Traverse is nothing exciting, but it's very functional, and last year's refresh brought a few new wood and silver accents, some contrast stitching, and ambient lighting. Last year Chevy also reconfigured the climate controls for 2013 and brought in more soft-touch materials.
Don't expect the 2014 Traverse to feel all that quick or agile, but it's quick enough for family use. At about 5,000 pounds, the Traverse is a very heavy vehicle, and it does little from behind the wheel to mask that. The smooth 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet, and has been programmed for more confident passing power and quicker shifts; yet this is still a combination that needs to work hard up highway grades or from a standing start. That said, it can tow up to 5,200 pounds. You can get either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations of the Traverse, but AWD versions are a little more sluggish.
If you're one who's disowned minivans in the past and wouldn't bow to that image again, the Chevrolet Traverse remains one of the most spacious, passenger-friendly vehicles on the market. The Traverse's primary mission is people-moving, so GM has made the most of the seating space here. 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. Bench or captain's chairs arrangements are offered in the second row, and we'd opt for the bench as the individual seats aren't much more comfortable. There's one weakness of the Traverse versus minivans: Its cargo floor is a bit high and not as easy-loading, although folding the second and third rows down yields 117.5 cubic feet.
The Traverse has earned some of the best crash-test scores of any vehicle sold in the U.S., and together with the closely related Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, it's one of the first vehicles on the market to offer a front center side airbag. 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. On LTZ models, the Traverse includes Side Blind Zone Alert, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert—all features that may help you avoid an accident completely.
Three trim levels of the 2014 Traverse are offered: LS, LT, and LTZ. Top LTZ models are really luxury models if you go by features, while LS trims are no-fuss (albeit well-equipped) family vehicles. All Traverse models get 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.
- Loads of passenger space
- Quiet, controlled ride
- Simple, effective MyLink infotainment
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- Drives heavy
- Unimpressive gas mileage
- High load floor