Delicate line between being an affable, family-friendly crossover SUV and looking like something more rugged and capable.
Clean styling inside and out, an enjoyable standard powertrain, a comfortable, spacious cabin, and most of the equipment we expect in a modern family car help the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse score 7.2 out of 10 in our testing. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For now, all Traverses use a new 3.6-liter V-6 with 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque that adds 20 hp over last year’s V-6. It’s the only available engine until a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4 joins the lineup under the hood of the Traverse RS. Both engines work alongside a standard 9-speed automatic, but only the V-6 is available with all-wheel drive. At this point, we’ve only driven the V-6 and will update once we drive the RS.
The V-6 model improves on the first-generation crossover’s fuel economy despite the extra power. Thanks in part to the 9-speed automatic, the front-drive Traverse returns 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined. All-wheel drive lowers those figures to 17/25/20 mpg. Both are substantial increases on the last Traverse, which could only muster 15/22/18 mpg in its most efficient trim.
The 2018 Traverse is available in seven trims—L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier, and High Country are the others. Each comes with a HID headlights with LED running lights, rearview camera, 18-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, Bluetooth, six USB ports, keyless ignition, and three-zone climate control. That means even the $34,995 (including a mandatory $945 destination charge) Traverse LS has a lot going for it.
The most advanced active safety equipment is, as is Chevrolet’s tendency, limited to the range-topping Premier and High Country—it’s only standard on the latter. Lesser trims, like the LT Cloth and LT Leather, are available with blind-spot monitors, while all trims come with GM’s Teen Driver and Family Link systems, as part of the OnStar suite.
A clean but conservative design inside and out might not excite, but there’s also nothing on the 2018 Traverse that will offend. While this is a bigger problem on lesser trims, the top-end High Country stands out as one of the better cabins attached to a modern Chevy. This is all good enough to earn 7 out of 10 on our styling scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chevy’s entire goal with the Traverse’s styling was to give crossover customers a truck-like styling experience. That starts with an exterior that borrows heavily from Chevrolet’s full-size, truck-based SUVs. The Traverse’s upright stance, squared-off front and rear, and tall sides work alongside a very SUV-like C-pillar—one that’s angled aggressively forward—to present a more rugged character. Slim wraparound taillights are the terminator for a strong shoulder line that runs from the equally slim front headlights, which get stylish jeweling as on higher trims as part of Chevy’s so-called D-optic design. That face, meanwhile, is like an embiggened Malibu—no bad thing.
This is all good, but not great. The Traverse is an attractive vehicle—inarguably better than the Equinox and on an entirely different plane than the woeful Trax and ancient last-gen Traverse—but it’s going to have trouble standing out alongside more style-forward offerings, like the Dodge Durango and Mazda CX-9. The Traverse does better in its cabin, where Chevy carried on with its truck-inspired design. A high, wide center console intersects a tall, unyielding dash and screams “I really want to be a Silverado.”
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