G. Chambers Williams

Chevy Traverse gets a makeover; still a great choice for a big family

Featuring a bold and refined new look, the completely redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse offers best-in-class cargo space and convenience features that make loading and unloading a breeze.
Featuring a bold and refined new look, the completely redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse offers best-in-class cargo space and convenience features that make loading and unloading a breeze.

The Traverse, Chevrolet’s eight-passenger crossover, enters its second generation for 2018 with a complete restyling designed to make an already great vehicle even better.

With the makeover, prices for 2018 begin at $29,930 (plus $995 freight) for the base L model with front-wheel drive, and run as high as $52,100 for the High Country model with all-wheel drive.

In between are the LS ($32,100), LT Cloth ($34,600), LT Leather ($41,200), RS ($42,100) and Premier ($44,500) front-wheel-drive models. All-wheel drive is available on all but the L and RS models, and is standard on the High Country. The RS and High Country models are two new trim levels added for 2018.

Our test vehicle for this report was the LT Leather with front drive, with a list price of $41,200 and total delivered price of $42,540, including freight and $395 in options – the cost of the premium Cajun Red Tintcoat exterior paint.

Arguably one of the best of its class, the Traverse is a large crossover with lots of room for the family and their stuff.

Chevy calls the new Traverse’s exterior styling “bold and refined.” It’s not as rounded as its predecessor, but it still very much looks like a Traverse, which is a good thing. This is one of Chevrolet’s best vehicles of the past decade, and it didn’t need an entirely new look. The rear end has a squared-off look, which is probably the biggest styling change.

Some of the Traverse’s exterior styling was “inspired” by the big Chevrolet sport utility vehicles – the Tahoe and Suburban, Chevy says. Those include premium features such as chrome accents, LED signature lighting and available D-Optic LED headlights.

One thing that was retained in the new generation is the generous third-row space, particularly the legroom, which makes that seat just as comfortable for adults as for children. This is one of the few big crossovers that can achieve that. There is also ample cargo room and overall interior space.

As there is a host of new, improved and impressive new active safety technology on the market in general now, it’s essential that most of that also be standard or available on the new Traverse, and it is.

There are also a new split/folding second-row seat and second-row captain’s chairs that improve on the original Smart Slide feature for that row. That includes the curbside seat’s ability to tip up and slide forward, even with a forward-facing child seat in place, to provide easy access to the third row.

With the captain’s chairs in the middle row, included on our test vehicle, the Traverse seats seven, but access to the third row is easier because of the gap between the two middle-row seats.

A new Traction Mode Select system is standard across the line. It lets the driver choose driving modes to match road conditions

The standard engine is the 3.6-liter V-6, cranking out 310 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. This was the engine on our tester, and we had plenty of power for both routine interstate highway driving and some mountain roads we encountered during our weeklong test.

The new RS model comes with a 257-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, also paired with a nine-speed automatic.

Special RS features include 20-inch wheels and blacked-out exterior cues, including a black chrome grille and black bowtie emblem.

EPA ratings for the V-6 are 18 mpg city/27 highway with front drive, and 17 city/25 highway with all-wheel drive. The 2.0-liter engine is rated at 20 city/26 highway.

The fanciest model – the High Country – has a long list of premium features, including unique interior trim with Loft Brown leather and suede microfiber accents, 20-inch polished wheels, High Country badges, D-Optic headlights, standard twin-clutch all-wheel drive, and power/fold third row seat.

ARedline Edition ($2,495) is offered on the Premier model. It brings black wheels with red accents, black exterior trim and bowtie emblems, a dual-panel power sunroof, a trailering package and more.

All trim levels come with active aero shutters, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and pushbutton start, and three-zone automatic climate control.

A power liftgate is standard on LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country models, and optional on the LT Cloth (which has cloth upholstery). Additionally, there is a power liftgate with hands-free operation and bowtie emblem projection standard on Premier and High Country models.

The Chevrolet MyLink audio system with seven-inch screen is standard on L, LS and LT Cloth models, but our LT Leather came with the MyLink system with an eight-inch screen, which also is standard on RS, Premier and High Country models, and available on LT Cloth. Both systems are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Also standard on all models -- and a cool feature on our tester – is the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, which includes a three-month/3GB data trial. This gives everyone on board Wi-Fi access for their portable devices, as long as the vehicle is in cell service range.

A driver-information center with 3.5-inch display is standard on L, LS and LT Cloth models, while the 4.2-inch display is standard on LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country; and available on LT Cloth.

We also had heated, leather-trimmed front seats on our LT Leather model; they are also included on the RS, Premier and High Country

A heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and heated second-row outboard seats are standard on Premier and High Country models, as is wireless phone charging.

While our vehicle came with standard cruise control, the new adaptive cruise control is included only on the High Country model.

Remote start, which was a nice feature on the cold January days, was standard on our vehicle. It’s also included on RS, Premier and High Country models, and available on LT Cloth

Chevrolet’s Teen Driver feature is included on all models

While a rearview camera system is standard on all models, we had Surround Vision with rear camera mirror on our LT Leather model; these are also standard on RS, Premier and High Country trims.

Also included on our LT Leather model were rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change alert with blind spot alert.

The LT Leather has 20-inch machined-face aluminum wheels with Technical Gray pockets, front fog lights, heated/power body-color outside mirrors, roof rails and deep-tinted glass.

Inside, our tester came with the leather seats, eight-way power adjustable driver’s and six-way power front passenger seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bose 10-speaker sound system, universal garage/gate opener, and a 120-volt power outlet.

MyLink is similar to systems such as Ford’s SYNC and Toyota’s Entune that allow for integration of the onboard audio system with smartphones for hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming and connection to popular Internet sites.

Body fit and finish, including gaps between body panels, were designed to be comparable with those of premium vehicles from Lexus and BMW. Overall, the vehicle has a premium look and feel.

Because the Traverse is intended to be a family vehicle, strong emphasis was placed on safety, with features to protect occupants before, during and after a crash. Among these are electronic stability control and traction control; antilock brakes; and rollover mitigation, to help prevent one of the most dangerous of common SUV accidents.

There are seat-mounted side air bags for the front-seat passengers, and roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows, along with the standard front air bags.

To assist after a crash, the Traverse comes with GM’s OnStar satellite-based communications system, which reports automatically to an OnStar operator if the vehicle is involved in an accident. Besides reporting when an air bag deploys, the system also tells the operator if the vehicle has rolled over, or been hit on the front, side or rear.

The OnStar operator attempts to talk to the occupants of the vehicle after receiving a crash notification, but if there is no response, will call out emergency responders to the scene. The GPS satellite location service built into the system allows the operator to pinpoint the crash site.

During routine driving, the OnStar system (with subscription) can provide such features as turn-by-turn navigation and directions to restaurants, hotels or other points of interest.

The optional all-wheel drive gives the Traverse great all-weather capabilities, along with limited off-road ability – allowing it to handle many of the dirt roads that might be found in national and state parks. But it has lower ground clearance than most traditional SUVs, and the all-wheel drive doesn’t include low-range gearing for serious trail driving.

The all-wheel drive is intended to give the vehicle better traction on slippery roads, but it’s also valuable on dry pavement at times, particularly during cornering. The system is fully automatic and no driver action is required to activate it.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

The package: Large, five-door, seven- or eight-passenger, front- or all-wheel-drive, V-6 or four-cylinder, gasoline-powered crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: The Traverse has been redesigned for 2018, and now enters its second generation. It’s roomy and comfortable, has plenty of power and decent fuel economy, and comes with a wide variety of standard and optional features, depending on trim level.

Disadvantages: No low-range four-wheel-drive system offered for serious off-road use.

Engines: 3.6-liter V-6, normally aspirated; 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, turbocharged.

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 310 HP/266 foot-pounds (3.6-liter); 257 HP. (2.0-liter).

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Length: 204.3 inches.

Curb weight (base): 4,362 pounds.

Cargo volume: 23 cubic feet (behind third seat); 58.1 cubic feet (behind second row, third row folded); 98.2 cubic feet (behind first row, all rear seats folded).

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain, all three rows, standard.

Trailer-towing capacity: 5,000 pounds (3.6-liter); 1,500 pounds (2.0-liter).

Fuel capacity/type: 19.4 gallons/unleaded regular (front drive); 21.7 gallons/unleaded regular (AWD).

EPA fuel economy: 18 city/27 highway/21 combined (V-6, 2WD); 17/25/20 (V-6, AWD); 20/26/22 (I-4).

Major competitors: Nissan Pathfinder, Infiniti QX60, Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia.

Base price range: $29,930-$52,100, plus $995 freight.

Price as tested: $42,540, including freight and options (LT Leather model with front-wheel drive, premium paint).

On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.