2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Consumer Reviews
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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
March 24, 2020

Buying tip

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse goes on sale in late 2020.

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse is a big family mover with a sharper look and better safety features.

The Chevy Traverse is among the most prolific three-row family crossovers on the road and there’s hardly a cul-de-sac or suburban shopping center without one. 

It’s popularity is a blessing and a curse. The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse finds new bends in its sheet metal this year for a more distinctive look.

It’s a good look, and our early impressions peg it at a 6.4 overall when factoring in all the 2021 upgrades. Our score may change once we get behind the wheel and once official safety data rolls in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

The big change for the Traverse this year is a new nose and tail, both of which crib the Tahoe and Suburban’s good looks. The already upright Traverse now has a little more starch in its shirt and its grille and lower front bumper look sharper and sleeker. Along the body sides, there’s a deeper crease under the windows. Around back, Chevy has a horizontal strip across the liftgate and revised taillights that are narrower. 

Under the hood, the Traverse is largely the same. A 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 310 horsepower is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. The combo is confident, but the all-wheel-drive system isn’t automatic—drivers have to switch in and out of all-wheel drive for traction. 

The Traverse steers well and tracks down the middle of the road with comfort thanks to a four-wheel independent suspension that soaks up road imperfections well. 

Up to eight can fit into the 2021 Traverse’s three rows of seats, although seven-passenger configurations are available (and more comfortable for adults). 

The second row gets 38 inches of leg room, which is plenty of space for long legs, and the third row riders get 33 inches. Behind all three rows of seats, the Traverse offers 23 cubic feet of cargo storage that can expand to nearly 100 cubic feet with rows No. 2 and 3 folded. 

Official crash-test data for the Traverse isn’t yet available, but standard equipment on the 2021 Traverse includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control is available as a spend-up option. 

Chevy hasn’t yet said how much the Traverse will cost when it goes on sale later this year, or what trims it’ll be available in, but we’ll update this space once that rolls in.

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Styling

The new Traverse looks tough enough to tackle any family task.

This year, the 2021 Traverse gets new looks to better align with the truckier Tahoe/Suburban that’s atop the Chevy lineup now. It’s a good look on the Traverse, and one that helps the softer crossover find a few new edges. 

We give it a 6 for style based on that look. The interior may yet get another point once we’ve had time to rummage through the big crossover. 

The Traverse is more creased in the front and rear this year, compared to last year. The blocky 2021 Tahoe may have donated its grille, but the Traverse now has chrome surrounds around the front fog lights that looks better than the Tahoe and ‘Burban. 

The Traverse is more upright than before, which we prefer, and its body sides are crisper than the rounded versions from just a few years ago. 

Around back, the Traverse borrows its tailgate look from the Tahoe too; a wide strip that spans the liftgate is a direct line to the bigger Chevies. 

Inside, the cabin is filled with mostly soft-touch materials that look better with more money thrown at the Traverse. Stay tuned. 

Review continues below
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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Performance

Sticking with a tried-and-true powertrain combo, the 2021 Traverse is confident and comfortable on the road.

The 2021 Chevy Traverse moves into a new decade with a powertrain stuck in the last one, and an all-wheel-drive system that’s mostly from the last century. 

The lone engine in the Traverse is a 310-hp 3.6-liter V-6 paired to a 9-speed automatic that drives the front or all four wheels. Its acceleration is on par with the competition, but a pushbutton all-wheel-drive system feels a little outdated by now. It’s a 6 for performance thanks to plenty of tug from the V-6, but that’s all. 

The V-6 is readily up to the task of hauling a Traverse full of passengers and cargo. It accelerates from a stop smoothly and relatively briskly, when pushed, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. 

Chevy’s 9-speed automatic transmission is one of the better ones on sale. It shifts smoothly and imperceptibly, flittering through gears with a preference for fuel economy. 

The Traverse is big and heavy, which is reflected in its fuel-economy ratings and the way that it drives. There’s no mistaking the big crossover’s bulk, although it tracks down the middle of a highway confidently. 

The Traverse rides on a four-wheel independent suspension that’s comfortable and quiet. Other vehicles that are related (or distantly related) to the Traverse in the General Motors’ stable—Cadillac XT6, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave—offer adaptive dampers that make the ride a little more composed, but we’re just fine with the Traverse anyway. 

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Traverse flexes on carrying people and gear with plenty of room for both.

With the 2021 Traverse, Chevy has one of the largest three-row crossovers in its class, large enough to fit eight with room behind for cargo. 

We give it a 9 for comfort: it’s good at carrying people and cargo—especially in the first two rows that are very comfortable. 

Chevy hasn’t yet specified all of the trim levels for the 2021 Traverse, but we expect it to largely follow the 2020 version. Based on that, we’d stretch out, take our shoes off, and take the long way across Kansas. 

The front seats are comfortable, with plenty of room for widebodies. There’s good small-item storage, too; Chevy this year added a wireless phone charger and wireless smartphone compatibility software to help keep forward command clean and clutter-free. 

The second row is a three-person bench in base models, upgradable to two captain’s chairs in higher trims. Rear passengers get 38 inches of leg room, and their own set of USB chargers. Three children across the seat should be comfortable, although three adults may be a little pinched. 

In the third row, there are 33 inches of rear-seat leg room, which is enough for some adults for short trips. This year, Chevy added available USB ports in the wayback too, which should help warring tweens keep quiet on long hauls. 

Behind the third row, the Traverse offers 23 cubic feet of cargo room, which is more than similarly sized competitors from Dodge and Honda. 

With the third row folded, the Traverse’s cargo capacity balloons to 58 cubic feet, and with the second row folded it jumps to nearly 100 cubic feet, which is comparable to a traditional minivan. 

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Safety

The 2021 Traverse awaits its first date with official crash testers.

Federal and independent testers haven’t yet rated the 2021 Traverse’s crashworthiness because it’s too new. 

Until those ratings roll in, we’ll withhold our safety score here. 

The good news for this year is the Traverse’s new standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection that it lacked on many models last year. (It was an option on higher trim levels and bundled into a pricey package.) What’s more, Chevy will also add active lane control and automatic high beams as standard equipment on the 2021 Traverse. 

That’s good standard equipment, especially for a family-focused vehicle. On some trim levels, GM will offer adaptive cruise control as well.
We’ll update this space when crash-test data is complete. 

Review continues below
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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Features

Automatic emergency braking is the 2021 Traverse’s newest trick, among other good family features.

Chevy addressed one of our long-standing problems with the 2021 Traverse and found its way back into our good graces for features. 

Every Traverse is now equipped with life-saving automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection on all trim levels. Chevy hasn’t yet said what will be included in the 2021 Traverse beyond the safety features listed above, although it’s likely to mirror many of the same features found on the current model. It gets a 7 for features for now: one for good base features and another for a generously sized touchscreen. 

We’ll wait for the full rundown from Chevy, but so far the automaker has clued us into a few details including available wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a dual-pane sunroof, wireless smartphone charger, USB ports in all three rows of seats, and an available 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster on some models. 

Like last year, we expect LS, LT, RS, Premier, and High Country trim levels. We haven’t yet heard how much Chevy will charge for the Traverse, but we expect it’ll be close to the $31,000 base price from 2020. 

Last year, Chevy made a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility standard, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen available or standard on LT and higher trims.

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse

Fuel Economy

Among three-row crossovers, the Traverse is relatively fuel-efficient.

It’s too early for official EPA data for the 2021 Traverse, but based on its similarities with last year’s version we can make some predictions.

When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Traverse earns an EPA rating of 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined. With front-wheel drive, that rating climbs a little to 18/27/21 mpg. Both numbers are a 4 on our fuel-economy scale. 

Compared to other three-row crossovers, that’s fair. The Ford Explorer rates up to 24 mpg combined and the Honda Pilot earns up to 23 mpg combined. Hybrid versions of the Explorer and Highlander do much better, however. 

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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6.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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