This SUV has room and refinement for the road-tripping connected family.
After about a decade, Chevrolet has finally replaced the first-generation Traverse three-row crossover with a new model that offers refinement as well as packaging and connectivity improvements.
Consumer Reports purchased a 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, and in our initial driving, we’ve been impressed, although there’s plenty of testing to be conducted before we reach our final Overall Score.
On the road, the Traverse proves to be a mild-mannered, easy-going coach. Power from the 3.6-liter V6 is smooth, with a swifter throttle response than the outgoing Traverse. Combined with an unobtrusive, nine-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain is unstressed around town and capable of brisk passing maneuvers.
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We were happy to see that the transmission is engaged with a traditional gear selector—no confusing alternative shifter here.
The Traverse is offered with two powertrains: a 255-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a 310-hp V6 engine. The four-cylinder engine will be offered with the sporty-looking RS trim. (That engine is much more powerful than the 193-hp, 2.5-liter offered in the GMC Acadia, a corporate twin of the Traverse.) With a curb weight of about 4,500 pounds and seating for seven, most buyers will want the V6.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
To assess the new model, we anonymously purchased a Traverse Premier AWD, a well-equipped version positioned one notch below the High Country top trim line. Our vehicle came with the dual-pane Skyscape Sunroof ($1,400) and an all-weather mat package ($250) for a sticker price that totaled $49,945. The Traverse starts with a $30,875 base price.
For our money we got an upscale, leather-upholstered model with a six-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, a suite of advanced safety features, a raft of connectivity features, and the uplevel 8-inch screen infotainment screen. Two free oil changes were also included.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse interior
It’s easy to get into the cavernous interior with the vehicle’s large doors and a manageable step-up height. The front seats are wide and accommodating, with ample legroom to spread out comfortably. The broad movement range on the tilt/telescope steering wheel helps drivers set it at the right position. Some travelers might balk at seat belts that aren’t height adjustable or the high center armrest.
Outward visibility is strikingly good, helped by tall front and side windows. Glancing over the shoulder, rear corner visibility is limited only by the thick rear pillar. Backing up is helped significantly by an available 360-degree view in addition to the traditional straight-back camera perspective. The sense of space is aided by the two glass roof panels. Unfortunately, both front and rear sunshades for the sunroofs operate manually, with all the elegance of a tug-to-retract window shade.
The controls are GM-familiar, with large, legible buttons logically clustered by function. Under the climate controls in our tester is a convenient charge mat that can replenish a compatible phone by simply setting it down on the grippy rubber surface.
The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system takes center stage with its colorful, intuitive screen and abundant, sophisticated features. It’s also power-retractable, revealing a handy bin behind it. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard, enabling seamless smartphone integration. Our Traverse benefits from a 10-speaker Bose audio system, making the most of the various audio inputs.
A built-in WiFi hot spot includes a free trial period, just long enough to get the family hooked on the idea. Catering to the connected family, there are two USB charge points for the second row, along with a 110-volt outlet.
The second-row provides generous legroom, with enough space for an adult to truly stretch out. Heated seats and climate controls with ceiling vents add to the minivan-grade comfort.
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The key to comfort here is the ability to slide the seats forward and back. When the third row of seats is needed, the second row can slide forward to open up space for passengers in the wayback. And this can be done while keeping the second row usable. With that adjustment, the wayback seat can fit a couple of average-sized adults, although the cushions are low.
There’s a fair bit of cargo space behind the seats when they’re upright, but tugging the seatback release and tilting the split-fold third-row forward opens up enough storage to shop at a warehouse store. And there’s some hidden underfloor storage as well.
The Traverse is again positioned as an alternative to the truck-based Chevrolet Tahoe, but it’s further distinguished this time around from its GMC Acadia sibling, which shrank in the redesign process.
As such, GM has now two feature-rich models to compete with segment favorites such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander as well as the newcomer Volkswagen Atlas. Soon the GM models will be joined by a more upscale version, the Buick Enclave.
The EPA fuel-economy rating for the Traverse is 20 mpg overall, an increase of 3 mpg over the 2017 Traverse and tied with the six-cylinder GMC Acadia. In our initial experience, we’ve observed 22.5 mpg in mixed driving on the trip computer. But the Acadia returned 19 mpg overall in our tests, so that may prove to be optimistic.
Like the Acadia, the ride is controlled and compliant, effectively muting damaged road surfaces and blunting impacts. Despite its large size, the Traverse holds the road well for the class and doesn’t feel cumbersome, as one might expect. Noise is muffled, with road noise being particularly well-isolated.
The Traverse has forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking available only on its top Premier and High Country trims. The lack of these important safety features on lower trim levels is a notable omission on an all-new family vehicle.
Our test car includes a full suite of safety gear, including those features and lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Standard notable safety extras include a teen driver system that allows a key fob to be linked to certain vehicle settings to encourage safe driving, such as turning on all available safety features and muting audio until the front-seat occupants are belted in. It also provides a report to reveal things like distance traveled, speed, and near misses.
Plus there’s the Rear Seat Reminder, a welcomed feature in other GM vehicles, that monitors whether the rear doors have been opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle was started or once the vehicle engine is running. If so, the vehicle will give a visual reminder and audible alert to remind the driver to check the rear seat, which will prevent a child from being left behind.
The Michigan-built Chevrolet Traverse is a promising road-trip ready SUV with the features, accommodations, and driving manners to satisfy growing families. It’s a clear improvement over the well-liked outgoing model, and it looks competitive against leading rivals.