Mountain Wheels: Entirely renewed Chevy Traverse provides just-right-sized charms (review)
2018 Chevrolet Traverse FWD Premier
MSRP: $44,450; As tested: $46,265
Powertrain: 310-HP 3.6-liter V-6 with nine-speed automatic transmission
EPA figures: 21 combined (18 city/27 highway)
Consumers who’ve largely migrated to the SUV world certainly have a tough range of choices when it comes to Chevrolet’s offerings, which stretch from compact crossovers to the colossus of Suburban and Tahoe.
Right in the middle of all of that, the Traverse has now received a very stylistic remake for 2018, with an all-new look and stature that captures the chrome-edged, gently curved look of its much larger cousins.
That blend of visual tweaks does a very effective job of emphasizing Traverse’s size but still keeping it somewhat comfortably scaled, though it will still serve the needs of folks looking for occasional third-row use. In its most austere form, Traverse can be had for $30,875, as well.
You’ll also have lots and lots of choices as Traverse now comes with six different trim levels, including a new, turbo-powered sport model, as well as a luxurious High Country model (itself outfitted with a twin-clutch AWD system for more versatility).
And to keep up with all those Dodge and Ford blackout models, the Premier model I drove (priced at $46,265) can also add a Redline package, with red highlights and darkened everything else.
Where the Traverse really shines is especially spacious second-row seating, with platform-styled, infinitely slidable captains’ chairs in my test machine, as well as a full 98.2 cubic feet of storage when you drop all the fold-flat, carpet-backed seats.
With the larger 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood, you may also appreciate the ability to get as much as 27 (or more) highway mpg with Traverse’s FWD model, or something a bit closer to 25 mpg with the more Colorado-friendly AWD model. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is standard on Traverse’s RS sport edition.
The overall feel is stable and comfortably accomplished, capable of some Camaro-styled noises if you floor the throttle, letting all 310 horsepower throw this reasonable-for-its-size 4,362-pound machine out ahead of traffic. Uphill jaunts will not be an issue, and you can also pull up to 5,000 pounds of trailer if you so desire.
Looks are definitely the biggest improvement for 2018 and you get a litany of chrome — first- and second-row window trim, a slash along the beltline and a ton on the grille and fascia. In the far back, reverse-angled, blacked-out windows also add size and style to the overall package, as well as providing reasonable visibility to those doing third-row seating duty.
Low-profile LED headlamps and, in the rear, wide chrome exhaust ports, certainly mix sports-car style with SUV stance; throw in some bright roof rails and very attractive 20-inch “argent” metallic wheels, and it’s all quite striking.
The second row, as mentioned, really does get the royal treatment, with exceptionally wide doors that open nearly 90 degrees for very easy passenger access.
The second- and third-row seats are perched high above the front-row seating, and the second row is “smart slide,” with a curbside seat capable of tipping and sliding even with a child seat in place. All rear passengers get new USB power outlets for their charging needs, plus full AC/heat controls in the second row.
My Premier test machine featured luxurious leather seating surfaces throughout, quite prominent in the very sporty front seats — with aggressive and supportive bolstering — as well as stippled leather relief in spots including the console box, and even some carbon-fiber-looking trim.
Cabin details have all been slightly updated, with angular air vents, Chevy’s one-of-a-kind AC control layout and easy access to the 8-inch MyLink navigation and audio system. There’s also a cordless charging platform ahead of the shift column; mine had a twisting Traction Mode knob with only snow or tarmac as its options.
Safety features have also been improved and the optional Driver Confidence package brought forward collision alert, automatic pedestrian braking and a very nice lane-keeping system which provides small and helpful inputs, not the gigantic and jarring yanks on the wheel you experience in other brands.
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