Good things come in time, and the Chevrolet Traverse is proof of that. When the Traverse first hit the streets nearly a decade ago, it caused some confusion. Billed as an eight (or optional seven) passenger mid-size crossover SUV, the Traverse looked more like a minivan instead of the SUV that it was. Sure it had regular doors instead of mini-van like sliding doors, but still, when a vehicle looks like a minivan, it’s hard to convince people it isn’t – especially those that don’t want a minivan.
Well Chevrolet saw that, and the second-generation Traverse, which made its debut for the 2018 model year, cleared the air. This Traverse is an SUV through and through.
Slotted between the new Chevrolet Blazer and the Tahoe, the current Traverse no longer has the egg-shape that cursed the first generation. Instead there is a bolder, truck-like grille up front and styling cues borrowed from other Chevy’s, mainly the Tahoe. Those that have nightmares of driving minivans need not worry anymore – no one will be confusion today’s Traverse with a minivan.
The Traverse is available in seven different trim levels (L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier, and High Country), with the L being the base model, the RS being the sporty one of the bunch and the High Country being the range-topping model with all the goodies. Someone at Chevrolet must like me, for last week I found myself with a beautiful Iridescent Pearl Traverse High Country with a black and brown interior.
The cabin of the Traverse is a nice blend of functionality and luxury. There is no shortage of room no matter where you sit. The styling of the interior is very appealing with an attractive two-tone black and brown theme. Seats are super comfortable and the center dash flows nicely down to the center console. Buyers can choose between seven- and eight- passenger seating by opting for captain’s chairs in the middle row, or a bench seat. The third row, which can fold flat into the floor, is easily accessible thanks to the wide doors Chevy has built into the Traverse. And once back there, it’s quite comfortable – even for adults. What’s surprising is that even with the third row seat up, the Traverse still has 23 cubic feet of cargo room. That same setup in the Tahoe only returns 15 cubic feet of cargo room.
Being the High Country, the tester was loaded with features. There is an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Bose sound system, adaptive cruise control, heated and vented seats and dual sunroofs. The rear camera mirror which replaces the traditional rear-view mirror with a high-resolution video camera is still impressive to use. The Traverse is also equipped with Teen Driver Technology, a built-in system that helps coach new drivers when you’re not there. For example, with the system you can tell it not to allow music to be played until all passengers have their seat belts fastened. Also, you can set a speed alert, a volume limit and more. Then, you can review their performance and driving activity by the in-vehicle report card. One item on the report card even indicates how many wide-open throttles (WOT) were performed.
Under the hood of every Traverse is a 310-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine that sends power to the front wheels or all-wheels by way of a nine-speed automatic transmission. Last year’s turbocharged four-cylinder that was used on the sporty RS model is no more.
While I liked how the Traverse looked and how comfortable the interior was, I was equally impressed with how it drove. For a large eight-passenger vehicle – and don’t kid yourself, the Traverse is large – it drives and feels small. Being almost the same size as a Tahoe (it’s a half inch longer, but not as wide or tall), you would never know it – the Traverse doesn’t feel nearly as big as it looks. The power from the direct-injection V6 shows that GM can get close to V8 power from a V6 yet still maintain V6 fuel economy.
In a quick trip across Texas to New Mexico, the Traverse proved that it is a perfect vehicle for road trips. Room for three was plenty and the Traverse’s storage abilities made a big statement as we were able to put two small suitcases in a compartment under the rear floor. On the open road, while we never saw the EPA rated 25 mpg, the 23 mpg we did average still was nice – especially when gas prices were always below $2. Sunroofs, in-vehicle WiFi, and lots of USB jacks kept the little passenger occupied and minimized the “are we there, yets.”
It’s really hard to find fault with the Traverse– its one of those vehicles that the more time you spend in it, the more you find to like about it. It looks great, has more than enough passenger room, drives well, is very safe, and is decent when it comes to fuel economy. Maybe the Traverse is the reason why GM got out of the mini-van business. Thank goodness!
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Chevrolet Traverse AWD High Country
Base Price: $53,200.00
Price as Tested: $55,390.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 310 hp
Torque: 266 lb/ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 city / 25 highway mpg
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