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Recently Driven

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer

The second-generation Traverse is yet another good looking vehicle from Chevrolet 

Overview
After nine long years on the market, Chevrolet has finally released its second-generation Traverse.

Many buyers viewed the previous Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia as a monobloc of vehicles, so GM has taken great pains to create marketing space between them for their replacements. So much so that the three cars were released at different times and the GMC Acadia, which went on sale a year ago, was actually shrunk to be a direct competitor with big volume three-row CUVs like the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander. The on-sale-now Traverse and soon to be released Buick Enclave retain the XXL format. 

About the same length as its predecessor, the latest Traverse is built on a 2 inch (51 mm) longer wheelbase which permits more legroom, especially in the last two rows. Like many new vehicles, the platform of the new Traverse is a bit more rigid than before and the vehicle is roughly 330 pounds (150 kg) lighter than the vehicle it replaces. 

While there were 135 trim variations available to Traverse buyers in 2017, Chevrolet has reduced the number of possibilities down to 11 for 2018. With centre row bucket seats, most  Traverses will be seven seater this year; but the base LS trim and one version of the LT seat eight. New for 2018 is a sporty themed Premier Redline trim with black-out trim and wheels and a new range-topping High Country, which explores the limits of what buyers are willing to pay for a Chevrolet. 

Though GM's ubiquitous 3.6L V6 will power most Traverses, Chevrolet is testing the market for a smaller engine with a 2L turbo four that produces 255 horsepower and a stout 295 lb-ft of torque. Power finds its way to the wheels via a nine speed automatic transmission in all cases. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive, optional. Most models offer an optional all-wheel drive system with Normal, 4x4, Off-Road and Tow-Haul modes; with the High Country employing a more sophisticated set up with torque vectoring delivering greater stability in challenging driving situations. 

The electric power steering in the new Traverse will help the driver counter a skid and corrects for both side winds and heavily crowned roads. Active safety is taken care of with available adaptive cruise control with all-speed forward automatic braking including front pedestrian braking. Lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings and lane keep assist are also available. All trims are equipped with a rearview camera; with fancier variants featuring a 360 degree bird's eye view. A new feature alerts the driver if a person is left in the car after it is locked. 

Infotainment equipment for 2018 includes GM's excellent IOS/Android interface that lets the driver's cellphone take over the dash centre screen as well as standard in car WiFi (requires data).  

Performance
The 3.6L V6 combines with the smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver urgent acceleration and serene operation. So serene that it seems like the engine has stopped, which it has because of the standard stop-start system. Unlike most other similar systems, GM's stop-start device cannot be switched off, which could be a deal breaker for some buyers. 

The electric power steering is precise, nicely weighted and has good directional stability at highway speeds. Braking is confident and the brake pedal location, feel and degree of travel needed to stop the car are all nicely judged; quite a change from GM cars of just a few years ago. 

The suspension reconciles ride and handling very well; the Traverse absorbs bumps adroitly and the vehicle feels solidly planted on the road. Despite its prodigious size, the Traverse actually drives smaller than it is.

A towing package is standard on all but the base LS trim; with the V6 model rated for up to 5000 pounds (2268 kg).

Solidly constructed, there were no squeaks or rattles noted on the two vehicles driven and road and wind noise are quite successfully suppressed.

 

Crisply-marked gauges are a delight to scan

Straightforward climate controls are located under a touchscreen that glides upward to reveal a storage bin 

Interior
The interiors on GM cars have improved exponentially over the last five years or so and the cabin of the new Traverse reflects this great leap forward.

The longer wheelbase combines with the XXL format to provide impressive room for a three-row CUV, maintaining one the greatest marketing features of the previous model.

With pleasing shapes and attractive bright accents, the cabin of the new Traverse is quite elegant. While most vehicles in this segment feature soft-touch dashboard surfaces and door toppers, those of the Traverse are hard plastic painted with a low sheen paint. This move no doubt saves GM money on each Traverse sold and the finish looks so good that occupants won't notice unless they touch them. The interior of the new Traverse has a multitude of oddments storage to be the go-to crossover for vehicular hoarders. 

Front occupants are supported by substantial, supportive seats and enjoy abundant space. The individual second row seats are comfortable, can be moved forward and back to furnish greater legroom for third-row seat riders and have enough space between them to let third-row riders pass easily to the third row. Though the space and comfort of the third-row seat can't compare with those available in a minivan, it is good for this type of vehicle and adults can easily tolerate a cross-town hop back there. The cargo bed is a full four feet (1219 mm) wide; easily accomodating standard building materials and offers best-in-class cargo capacity for a three-row CUV. The cargo floor cover can be flipped up, liberating a great deal of vertical space.   

Shown here in the sportiest Redline trim, the driver's compartment of the Traverse features large, supportive seats and an abundance of room  

The middle row seats slide forward to maximize legroom for third-row riders 

 

Even larger adults will find the third row seat habitable for a cross-town hop

The Traverse delivers decent cargo space when the third-row seat is deployed for passengers  

Substantial cargo space is available when the second and third-row seats are folded flat  

The cargo bay floor can be flipped up to reveal a large storage bin 

Pricing  
All-wheel drive, standard on LT True North, Premier, Redline and High Country models, is a $3000 option on the LS and LT Cloth trims. With alloy wheels, auto climate control and xenon headlamps, the $36,790 front-wheel drive Traverse LS base model is well equipped for the money. The LT Cloth upgrade, with a power driver's seat, heated front seats, satellite radio, power tailgate, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings and a tow package, is very good value. The LT True North model reconciles price and content quite well but the supplement to migrate from there to the Premier is very high and the price gulf between the Premier and the High Country is roughly twice the value of its additional equipment. The Traverse is an exceptional lease value for 2018. 

Summary
The new Traverse, like other GM cars in recent years, arrives on the market fully formed and, unlike GM cars of the past, is a no excuses vehicle, period. With roughly 4500 sold in 2016 compared the 15,000 or so examples sold of the market leaders, the Ford Explorer and the Kia Sorento, the Traverse became a niche player in the three-row market, The combined sales of GM's trio of three-row CUVs, the Enclave, Traverse and Acadia, barely breached the 12,000 mark in 2016, less than the Toyota Highlander did on its the same year. Part of this lack of sales volume of the old Traverse could be put down to its extreme age--nine years in a segment where vehicles are generally renew after five--or perhaps due to its XXL format, which could be a marketing plus for those who want the extra space, or a negative factor for those who find it to be just too big for their lifestyles. One thing is certain about the new Traverse, it has been so well executed that if it fits the lives of potential buyers, all those who include it on their short list of vehicles will be thoroughly charmed by it.