For 2018, Chevrolet packs a big one-two punch with a pair of key crossovers.
In December, we reviewed the compact Equinox whose recent redesign grew 2017 sales by 20 percent.
Today, we address the all-new midsize Traverse. Its December 2017 sales bested the previous year’s tally by 18.6 percent.
Like the Equinox, the three-row Traverse ($30,925) is built on a lightweight new chassis and is restyled inside and out. Its go-to powertrain is stronger and more efficient. Its roomy cabin grows more refined, with improved materials quality and a more contemporary design.
The Traverse is longer by only a fraction of an inch but its wheelbase grows 2 inches to boost interior space, including 3 additional inches of second-row legroom. Passenger space now rivals the segment’s best and cargo space is best in class.
Bold, bright infotainment graphics
Connectivity and safety options expand in count and sophistication. Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system is standard across the line and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A subscription-based 4G LTE WiFi hotspot is standard. Lower trims get a 7-inch touchscreen; models higher in the food chain get an 8-incher.
Graphics are bright and bold, though their simple shapes and primary colors may not resonate with high-end shoppers.
The base Traverse L is a special-order item and most will be sold into fleets. Even so, it's nicely equipped with cloth (not vinyl) upholstery, xenon headlights, heated mirrors, 18-inch wheels
and LED running lights.
A backup camera and tri-zone automatic climate control are standard. Blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors are standard on the LT trim ($35,595) trim and higher.
High-end safety choices
Chevy adds its full range of driver-assist features to the Traverse this year but reserves key items for the two topmost trims. If you want intelligent cruise control, Chevy will ask you to pony $53,000 for the new High Country trim.
A Driver Confidence II package adds forward collision alert with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic braking and lane-departure warning and intervention. It’s standard on High Country and available on the Premier ($45,495) but can’t be had on lower trims.
The High Country also adds upgraded leather, LED headlights with automatic high beams and a power-folding third-row seat. Its all-wheel-drive system adds an auto-locking rear differential for improved traction.
Outside, the second-generation Traverse is burlier and more chiseled than before. It now bears a strong resemblance to its full-size siblings, the Tahoe crossover and Suburban SUV.
Lighter yet stronger
There are numerous ways to track weight loss, depending largely on tow-package and driveline choices but, overall, the 2018 Traverse drops about 350 pounds.
A tweaked version of last year’s V-6 powers the Traverse. It gains 29 horsepower, for a total of 310, to go with 266 pound-feet of torque. The six is paired with a new nine-speed automatic transmission, which works flawlessly and helps boost fuel economy by about three mpg.
The new powertrain drives the Traverse from 0-60 mph in a class-appropriate 6.5 seconds. Properly equipped, the Traverse is rated to tow up to 5000 pounds.
An automatic stop/start function shuts down the engine at idle to help reduce fuel consumption. It can’t be turned off, but it is one of the smoothest systems we’ve tested.
A second new trim
Since the Traverse’s launch last July, Chevy has added yet another new trim. The RS ($43,490) is a mid-level, front-drive-only model powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that makes 255 horsepower and a stout 295 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with the nine-speed automatic.
The suspension is redesigned to provide a balance between comfort and handling, with the edge going to comfort. Our FWD Traverse LT tester quietly absorbed most road-surface bumps and bruises. It felt planted at speed and showed only modest body lean in the corners.
Steering is lightly weighted but accurate and responsive during cornering. A good on-center groove makes for easy highway cruising. Just don’t expect much communication from the road surface.
In a world smitten with crossovers, the Equinox and Traverse are good news for Chevy partisans and dealers. A new Silverado pickup, due later in the year, could spell a Chevy trifecta.
Contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Chevrolet FWD Traverse 3LT Leather
Vehicle base price: $30, 925
Trim level base price: $41,150
As tested: $42,095 (includes destination and handling)
Options: Our 3LT Leather tester came with no options
Tow rating: 5000 pounds
EPA rating: 21 combined/18 city/27 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified