2018 Chevrolet Traverse AWD 3 LT: Long-awaited update of the family-hauling crossover.
Price: $46,580 as tested (base is $29,930). The trim level starts at $43,150. Sunroof added $1,400, trailering equipment $650, and black paint, I mean, black currant metallic, $395.
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “powerful V-6 engine, smooth transmission, nicely outfitted cabin,” but not that it “can get expensive” and has “torque steer in FWD models.”
Marketer’s pitch: “Making every mile count.”
Reality: Do good things come to those who wait?
What’s new: The 2018 three-row crossover gets its first redesign since its 2009 launch. Chevrolet calls the new look more like its SUVs.
Up to speed: The Traverse hurries onto limited-access highways with ease. The 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine gives out the nice throaty roar that GM cars are known for, and I never felt lacking for power. Car and Driver says 0 to 60 takes 6.5 seconds.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four is available in the RS model, and it creates 255 horsepower.
Shifty: The 9-speed transmission operates without much attention. I never noticed any harsh upshifts on hard throttle or unusual downshifts, even as we traversed (see what I did there?) some mountainous roads in slippery conditions.
On the road: Though the Traverse didn’t astound with slick handling for winding roads. Most vehicles this size won’t (unless their first names are BMW or Mazda).
But the Traverse is a blessing on highways. It glides along smoothly for long trips, and highway driving is very Chevrolet — comfortable and calm.
Friends and stuff: Sturgis Kid 4.0 spent a lot of hours in the middle row and came away neither impressed nor depressed. His 6-foot-2-inch frame was comfortable enough.
The middle-row captain’s chairs move forward and back to maximize comfort, and fold out of the way quickly for access to the rear. Space in the rear seat is not bad, but a minivan remains a must for adults in the third row hoping for anything like comfort.
Cargo space is 98.2 cubic feet behind the first row and 23 behind the third. This is about the biggest of the midsize SUVs and crossovers.
Looking backward: Sure, it’s good for drivers to keep their eyes on what’s ahead, but it can be important to see behind as well.
Chevrolet has forgotten the second part of that equation.
It starts with the Traverse’s new profile. In the right light, it looks rather like the first generation of the Honda Ridgeline pickup, which sported an immense rear pillar. This makes the view while passing a challenge.
In addition, the small rear window and extra small rearview mirror — what’s up with that? — combine to further complicate driving.
Play some tunes: A home button takes listeners back to a main screen of eight choices, but beyond those choices, there’s a lot of screen time.
A volume dial in the center is surrounded by double-arrowed dials for tuning up and down. But the arrows limit one to a channel at a time, making the trip from the Beatles Channel at 018 to the traffic report at 131 a long, deliberate slog. Tuning by number required punching into a touchscreen keypad, never the optimum way to keep one’s eyes on the road.
In short, the stereo would benefit from a complete redesign as well, but General Motors must have bought a 20-year contract with whatever supplier makes this thing.
On the bright side, music sounds clear and realistic.
Night shift: The overhead lighting is clear and subtle. Headlights cast light on the road ahead well.
Keeping warm and cool: We had the Traverse during the start of the Northeast Deep Freeze and first found the temperature hard to keep consistent. But the “Auto” button on the heater control helped a lot.
Dials control the temperature for driver and passenger, while buttons control everything else.
Fuel economy: The Traverse averaged about 20 mpg in a highway-heavy spate of driving, across Pennsylvania north to south one trip, and east to west for another.
Where it’s built: Lansing, Mich.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the reliability to be 2 out 5.
In the end: The Traverse remains a pleasant and spacious companion and certainly should be on your list among these vehicles.