Two years ago, Chevrolet rolled out the second generation of its full-size Traverse crossover.
Over the previous decade, the three-row Traverse had built a reputation for its agreeable ride, roomy cabin still and immense cargo capacity.
With legitimate seating for eight, the Traverse was — and is — the largest rig around that’s not a truck-based SUV.
Built on a front-wheel-drive unibody structure, the Traverse boasts car-like ride and handling. Its compliant, easy-going manner is supplemented by surprising composure on winding back roads.
The 2018 model-year makeover brought the Traverse a look that reflects its capacities. Previously, the Traverse resembled a minivan, not a great look for a rig with a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
Sculpted body panels
Now, it wears subtly sculpted body panels and a muscular front fascia. Its sloping roofline and kicked-up rear quarter-panels soften its silhouette, but there’s little danger you’ll mistake it for a van.
Its redesigned cabin is bright and airy, thanks to its upright stance and to an available dual-pane sunroof.
The front seats are large, firm and supportive. The power lumbar supports adjusts only for pressure, not verticality. On upper trims, the steering column tilts and telescopes; on lower trims, it only tilts.
For 2020, Chevrolet debuts its new Infotainment 3 system. Its touchscreen — it measures 7 inches on lower trims and 8 on upper models — features large, colorful icons and an easy-to-navigate menu structure.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and a Qi cellphone charging pad is available. Six USB charging ports dot the cabin and a WiFi hot spot is standard.
Demerits for materials quality
In a clever cabin-storage touch, the power-retractable touchscreen slides opens to expose a hidden bin. There’s also a cell phone-sized cubby just ahead of the shifter and a deep bin under the center-console armrest.
The cabin accommodates up to eight. A pair of adults ensconced in the third row will be fairly comfortable over limited distances.
The Traverse cabin loses points for materials quality. Lackluster faux metal and woodgrain trim bits feel out of place in this modern cabin, especially on upper trims.
The sunroofs’ manually operated sun shades also disappoint; their release mechanism and sliding action are subpar for the segment.
The Traverse gets down the road in fine order. It runs the 0-60 sprint in a quick 7.3 seconds and there’s plenty of power for passing on two-lane roads.
Excellent ride, decent handling
Suspension engineers designed a system that produces an excellent ride — it’s neither too soft nor too firm — and decent handling. The Traverse enters turns crisply and exhibits little body lean.
Ride quality is very good and the cabin is hushed even at highway speeds.
The big CUV is available in L; LS; LT (with Cloth and Leather sub-trims); LT Premium; RS; Premier and High Country trims.
This year, Chevy drops the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that previously powered the RS.
All models are now powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a responsive and smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, AWD is available on all trims but the base L.
A wealth of options
This year, there are numerous adjustments to existing trims and to some of the options packages.
A new LT Premium Package, available on LT Leather and standard on the RS, adds the 8-inch touchscreen, a surround-vision backup camera, Bose audio, a 110-volt outlet and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
A pair of options suites — the Convenience and Driver Confidence Package and Driver Confidence II Package — bring a wealth of features to the mid- and upper trim levels.
But some desirable features are available only on specific trims.
Our $48,000 Premier tester included a following-distance indicator that warns the driver of slower traffic ahead, but does not slow the Traverse the way adaptive cruise control would.
Turns out that adaptive cruise is only available on the $53,200 High Country, where it is paired with emergency braking.
My notes read: “For $48,000, I want adaptive cruise!”
Still, such anomalies aside, the 2020 Traverse is well suited to satisfy the needs of active families.
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2020 Chevrolet Traverse Premier AWD
Vehicle base price: $29,800
Trim level base price: $45,800
As tested: $47,990 (includes destination and handling)
Options: Iridescent Pearl Tricoat Paint
Tow rating: 5,000 pounds
EPA rating: 21 combined/18 city/27 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified