If 2016 was the year of the car at Chevrolet with the subsequent launches of the new Volt, Malibu and Camaro, to name a few, 2017 belongs to the utility vehicles. In nine short months since beginning of the year, the new Equinox, Trax and Bolt (that’s right, a utility vehicle according to GM) have seen the light of day. Today, it’s the Traverse’s turn.
Of all Chevy’s SUVs, the Traverse bridges the gap between the crossovers and real full-size SUVs that are the Tahoe and Suburban. Already quite popular with the average active family that need loads of space, the new 2018 Traverse builds on its reputations and returns with more technology and refinement than ever.
Assembled on an all-new, lighter and stronger platform, the Traverse not only gains capacity- and personality-wise but is better to drive. In fact, in this one swift move, the Chevy’s gone from mid-pack to the top along with the Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango and Volkswagen Atlas.
Down to business
It is possible to order a FWD Traverse but between you and I, that would be the equivalent of ordering a plain Blizzard at Dairy Queen. Why would someone do that? With AWD comes the 3.6-litre V6 and its 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. Its performance is more than adequate and much of the powertrain’s praise goes to the 9-speed Hydra-Matic 9T65 automatic transmission.
This ‘box makes a world of a difference when on the topic of driving enjoyment and the 2018 Traverse. The ideal gearing is responsible for making the most of the available torque at all times enabling decently spirited passing maneuvers. Cogs glide by in both directions regardless of the amount of throttle play – it never skips a beat.
Now, we must address the big ute’s drive. As with the transmission, I was pleasantly surprised by its ability to maintain composure regardless of the driving situation. Obviously, there’s nothing sporty about the Traverse but tight repeated switchbacks did little to upset the car. By the same token, I discovered properly assisted steering and a braking system that is well up to the task of tackling the daily grind. I also came face to face with an issue.
Every time I exited a corner, I’d experience wheel spin and this, despite being in a Premier trim with AWD. GM explained to me that the reason why their AWD system needs to be manually activated is to save on fuel. In other words, whenever you find yourself in a situation where more traction and grip is required, it’ll be up to you to select AWD (you can always leave it there if you chose). I call bullocks as the majority of SUVs and CUVs are equipped with automatic self-regulating AWD systems that only engage the other wheels when necessary. However annoying this may be, it is essentially the vehicle’s only true fault.
Two versions of AWD equip the Traverse. All save for the High Country have a single-clutch for the rear while the Top Dog gets a dual-clutch setup that enables left-to-right torque distribution.
Inspired by the big ones
The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is far more truck-looking than its predecessor, and that’s no mistake. The popular and nearly legendary Tahoe and Suburban served as inspiration for the redesign. On top of its more robust stance, Chevy has introduced a few sportier and luxurious versions – a little something for everyone.
An RS trim will become available at a later date. It’ll be sharper overall but be reserved for the turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine along with FWD. The luxurious High Country and the Redline (yup, just like Saturn) that are most appealing. The latter package throws in black wheels, black exterior highlights, tinted taillights and black and red “Traverse” badges. I kind of like it.
The cabin is equally likeable thanks to its lovely fit and finish, truck load of technology and interior space. So much room! Depending on the selected trim, the Traverse features seating for 7 or 8 where even the 3rd row is more than tolerable for the average adult. The trunk allows for 651 liters of volume behind the final row and that number grows exponentially once stowed. Should you ever run out of space, I assure you that the Chevy is not at fault.
Comfort at large
Regardless of your seat, all occupants will feel right at home. They’ll also be entertained by the huge amount of connectivity and entertainment options provided to all.
All Traverse trims get as standard features the well-liked Chevrolet MyLink. No matter the size of the touchscreen (7” or 8”), the large display makes navigating through menus a breeze. As part of the package, owners get an OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven compatible devices, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
And if safety is high on your list of purchasing criteria, do know that Chevrolet’s got your back. The Traverse is loaded with alert systems and driving aids as well as radars. Those inside and out of the car can feel safe and secure.
The 2018 Chevy Traverse is already in showrooms with a price range that varies from $34,895 to $58,495. The AWD LT makes the most sense equipment and value-wise with a purchase price set at $42,195.