Officially the Traverse is called a midsize SUV, but it’s got three rows and is really going to be considered a full-size SUV by most people (it’s just quite as ginormous as the Chevy Tahoe/Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon/etc., which are officially full-size). I would call this one a large and those behemoths extra-large. With the tremendous amount of room inside, I wouldn’t feel right calling the Traverse a midsize.
The Traverse shares the same platform as two of it’s GM brethren -- the GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave. It’s actually a bit longer than the Acadia (204 inches for Traverse vs. 194 for Acadia; Enclave is also 204, but more upscale in design and pricing). And it actually lost some weight (several hundred pounds) from the previous model via the redesign. Leg room in both the 2nd and 3rd rows are arguably best in class, which is good news for families who want to transport a big brood in comfort and with less whining.
The exterior design of the redesigned Traverse has a good look, though it’s a bit less muscular looking than many of its competitors. Power outside mirrors are offered, LED headlamps and tail lamps are featured, and there is a hands-free power rear liftgate.
One design option is the sharp Redline design, which was featured on my test vehicle and included 20-inch gloss black painted aluminum wheels with red accents.
The Traverse offers easy access to its third row if you have the captain’s chairs set up in middle row. Seating is available for either 7 or 8, depending how your middle row is set up.
There is a clean and unobtrusive setup on the electronics up front in the Traverse, along with plenty of storage space. Materials in the vehicle are not luxury-level (you can go to the Buick Enclave for that), but at the same time don’t feel cheap. They’re about what you’d expect in this category. Due to its length, it can offer a best-in-class cargo hole, of more than 98 cubic feet.
Heated seats are offered in both first and second rows, you can get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and tri-zone climate control is included.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
This is an area where the Traverse had made gains for 2018.
The Chevy Traverse I tested featured a 3.6-liter V6 engine -- offering an improved 310 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque -- and a nine-speed automatic transmission. One other engine -- a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo -- is available and offers 245 hp.
Front-wheel drive is standard and on the version I drove, but AWD is offered on the Traverse.
The V6 provides a powerful ride and gets you moving, a hallmark of GM, but the Traverse is not quite as nimble as some of the competition (Mazda’s CX-9 would top the class in that regard). On the plus side, the ride is very consistent and never sluggish.
The inside is well-insulated so the ride is quiet and road noise isn’t an issue.
The Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Chevy’s infotainment system (via its 8-inch touchscreen) does not disappoint, as it’s intuitive and user-friendly for the driver, both via touch and voice commands.
The Traverse also offers some unique safety features, including Rear Seat Reminder (warns before you get out to check back seat) and Teen Driver (allowing you to monitor your child’s driving habits from afar and set limits).
There are a plethora of safety systems offered on the Traverse, but you need to get into the upper trim levels to get many of them (including, curiously, adaptive cruise control, which many brands offer on lower trim levels).
All Traverses come with anti-lock brakes, an array of airbags, keyless entry and keyless start. A rearview camera is standard too.
Among available tech and safety features are: Rear park assist, Rear cross traffic alert, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Surround Vision. Wireless charging is offered, and you can opt for a Bose premium 10-speaker sound system.
Onstar 5-year basic plan is included, along with 3 months of satellite radio. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is offered too. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity allow for mirroring of your phone in the vehicle.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the FWD version of the Traverse are 18 city/27 highway/21 combined, an improvement from previous version. This is better than some competitors (i.e. Explorer), but slightly behind other competitors (PIlot, Highlander). All in all, though, the differences are small enough in the segment that this shouldn’t be the determining factor for anyone buying a three-row SUV.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
My test vehicle was a hair under $48K, but the base price for the Traverse starts about $30K.
This is an area where the Traverse shines in the three-row SUV segment, as nearly every other in the segment has a higher starting price (only a couple beat it, and not by much).
So if budget is a major factor for you, the Traverse has enough else going for it (powerful ride, lots of space for people and cargo) that the price could tip the scales in its favor.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.