Review: 2018 Chevrolet Traverse Strikes Crossover Sweet Spot

June 08, 2018 by Ryan ZumMallen, @Zoomy575M

The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse has convenience baked into its DNA.

The Traverse, a fraternal twin to the Buick Enclave, comes with leading technology and standard safety equipment. It offers more interior and cargo space than the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe SUV while boasting strong fuel economy ratings in its class. Base pricing starts at just over $30,000.

The large three-row crossover is designed to handle the challenges of modern family life. During a week of urban errands and long highway drives the 2018 Traverse delivered pleasing results. It offers the practicality of a minivan with none of the stigma. Or the cringe-worthy design.

Pleasant surprises abound. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and a flurry of USB ports within reach of the driver’s seat. A hidden compartment behind the optional 8-inch touchscreen is perfect for hiding smartphones out of sight.

On the road, the 2018 Traverse is defined by its smooth ride and crisp maneuverability. Any fears about driving a vehicle measuring more than 17 feet in length are erased by a low center of gravity and breezy electric power steering.

GM upgraded its 3.6-liter V6 engine from 281 horsepower to 310 horsepower for the 2018 Traverse. Technology such as direct injection and variable valve timing improves performance and efficiency. An outdated six-speed automatic transmission has been replaced with a smooth nine-speed auto.

For a vehicle with more than 300 horsepower the Traverse never feels especially fast. It doesn’t inspire hard driving as high-powered large crossovers like the Ford Explorer Sport and Dodge Durango SRT do.

  • 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. (All photos: Chevrolet)
Instead, the V6 uses its power to bring the Traverse up to speed and then settle into the appropriate gear. It works in concert with the nine speed that shifts before the driver is even aware. The result is a seamless driving experience that is never wanting for power but primed for efficiency.

The powertrain is rated by the EPA at 18 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg overall. Chevrolet also offers a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 257 horsepower on the Traverse RS. It is rated at 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg overall.

Both engines are a noticeable improvement over the previous generation of the Traverse, which topped out at 15 mph city, 22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.

Improved fuel economy is an important selling point as the Traverse aims to challenge segment leaders like the Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. The new ratings bring the Traverse more in line with the competition. In several trims, it surpasses them.

Buyers like the new Traverse formula. GM sold 38,000 units through the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 30 percent compared with the same period in 2017, according to research firm Autodata Corp.

The Traverse is Chevrolet’s second top-selling crossover or SUV. It provides the brand with an effective one-two punch alongside its smaller but hotter-selling Equinox sibling and has given the brand a competitive advantage. Chevrolet’s crossover and SUV sales jumped 23 percent to 184,000 units in the first three months of 2018. During the same period Ford’s crossover/SUV sales dropped 3 percent to 187,000 units.

The Traverse borrows some of the best qualities of its SUV siblings while improving upon their weaknesses. It is equipped with the latest version of Chevrolet’s easy-to-use MyLink infotainment system that automatically integrates with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The vibrant interface is combined with an intuitive layout of buttons and knobs similar to the Tahoe and Silverado pickup.

Passengers quickly take a liking to the Traverse as well. Compared with the truck-like Tahoe, which trades cargo and passenger space for toughness, the Traverse is more roomy and comfortable. The second-row seats use a SmartSlide design that makes it easy to climb into the back. The wheelbase has been expanded by 2 inches over the previous generation, making third-row seating more spacious.

The inherent convenience of the 2018 Traverse makes it easy to see why consumers are flocking to a new breed of crossovers. Since Chevrolet exited the minivan segment when it discontinued the Uplander in 2008, the Traverse brings a modern twist to those needs. Its style and family friendly tech are a departure from stodgy General Motors crossovers of the past.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse. (Photo: Chevrolet)

The rejuvenated 2018 Traverse arrives as consumer demand heats up for light trucks — a segment that includes crossovers, SUVs and pickups. Chevrolet’s light truck sales shot up by 16.5 percent in the first three months of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017. Its cars and sedans fell 21.6 percent.

As the third best-selling of Chevrolet’s light trucks, which return higher profit margins than small cars and sedans, the importance of the Traverse is clear.

Available trims include the base Traverse L and Traverse LS. Both come with second-row bench seats and can fit eight passengers from $30,925. There is also a Traverse LT Cloth, which adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, roof rails and second-row captain’s chairs for $36,095.

The model tested is a Traverse LT Leather in front-wheel drive. All seven seats are leather appointed, as is the steering wheel. Blind-spot warning, a 360-degree surround camera, 20-inch wheels, power liftgate, the 8-inch touchscreen and a booming 10-speaker Bose sound system come standard. As tested it is priced from $41,150.

The top of the lineup includes the turbocharged Traverse RS for $43,595, upscale Traverse Premier for $45,995 and cushy Traverse High Country for $53,595. All-wheel drive is available on all trims and comes standard on the High Country.

Crossovers continue to appeal to buyers looking for an all-in-one solution for their transportation needs. Along with do-everything crossovers like the Pilot and Highlander, the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse offers many strengths and few weaknesses. Even in a crowded segment it is a portrait of modern convenience.

Read Next: First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado a Step Up from Previous Truck

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