2012 Chevrolet Traverse

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2013 Chevrolet Traverse: Review

This 2013 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2015.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.0

Bottom Line:

The Traverse's 2013 changes make a good vehicle even better. Interior quality is now on par with other large crossovers, and the Traverse still offers more room than any vehicle this side of a minivan. That interior space, plus pleasant driving dynamics, makes the Traverse and its Dodge and Ford competitors far better choices than old-school SUVs.
Pros:
  • Lots of space for people and cargo
  • Carlike ride
  • Efficient for size
Cons:
  • Still a little thirsty
  • Cumbersome in tight quarters
  • Gets expensive with options

When General Motors released its Lambda line of midsize crossovers in 2007 as 2008 models (the Chevrolet Traverse followed as a 2009 model), the family truckster was changed forever. It marked the beginning of the end for the bulky truck-based SUV and the switch to the more efficient, more carlike crossover. These vehicles were clearly the best-driving 8-passenger non-minivans on the market. But Ford and Dodge soon followed with offerings that were just as dynamically capable but featured higher-quality interiors. For 2013, Chevrolet is leveling the playing field by improving the Traverse's interior and giving it a few nips and tucks elsewhere. Let's see how the new Traverse stacks up.

Model lineup
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is offered in LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ trim levels, each with front- or all-wheel drive. Prices range from $30,510 for an LS front-drive to $42,425 for an all-wheel-drive LTZ. Notable standard features of the LS include cloth upholstery, front and rear air conditioning, OnStar assistance, rearview camera, split-folding second-row bench seat, split-folding third-row seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights, roof rails and P245/70R17 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers.

The 1LT adds a new front center airbag, rear park assist, 8-way power driver's seat, remote engine starting, fog lights and P255/65R18 tires on alloy wheels. The 2LT gets tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, second-row captain chairs, Bose audio system, MyLink infotainment system, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a power liftgate. The LTZ is loaded with such features as leather upholstery, blind-spot alert, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, auto-dimming outside mirrors and P255/55HR20 tires.

Available options beyond LTZ equipment include rear DVD entertainment, navigation system, towing package, roof rack, side steps and a panoramic sunroof.

Under the hood
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse comes with one engine, a 3.6-liter V6 offered in two configurations. Most models get the single-exhaust, 281-horsepower version. The LTZ adds dual exhaust to increase output to 288 horses. Both versions are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission updated with next-generation controls to improve shift times and prevent the transmission from hunting for gears. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway with all-wheel drive.

Inner space
The Traverse's interior has been redesigned to keep this vehicle competitive. Gone is the sea of hard plastic that covered the dashboard, replaced by soft-touch faux leather surfaces arranged in an attractive design with accent stitching and available ambient lighting. The door tops and armrests are also soft to the touch, but the lower dash is hard plastic and the wood trim is just plastic. It's a much nicer cockpit, but the Dodge Durango seems to be a half-step better.

The climate controls and infotainment system have also been redesigned. The climate controls couldn't be easier to use. They consist of a pair of rotating dials, each with a digital temperature readout in its center. The available infotainment system is now Chevrolet's MyLink, which comes with voice command and a 6.5-inch touch screen. It is available with and without navigation, and buyers can pair their smartphones to the system to stream Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio apps. The screen is rather small, and other systems, including GM's own Cadillac Cue, are more advanced, but MyLink is pretty easy to use and it keeps people connected to the gadgets that have taken over our lives.

While its interior quality may be slightly lower than the competition, the Traverse is by far the roomiest midsize crossover. In the standard configuration it seats eight, but buyers can opt for 7-passenger seating with more comfortable second-row buckets that also leave an easy path to the third row. The second row offers plenty of room, and the third row has enough space for three children to ride comfortably. There is enough legroom for two adults to fit back there, too, but the low seat bottoms make for uncomfortable long trips.

If you don't choose the second-row buckets, getting back to the third row requires a healthy tug on the second-row seat to tilt and slide it forward. These seats can also fold flat, as can the third-row seats, to open up a cavernous 116.3 cubic feet of cargo space, more than you'll get in anything but a van. In fact, it's almost 40 cubic feet more than offered in the Explorer or Durango. Keep the second-row seats up and there is still 70.3 cubic feet of space, about as much as a Honda CR-V. Even with all the seats up, the Traverse has 24.4 cubic feet of space, about double the volume of a compact car's trunk.

On the road
The Traverse is big for the class. In fact, it's a little larger than a Chevrolet Tahoe in wheelbase and length, though it weighs about 700 pounds less. Given that size, the Traverse is surprisingly well controlled on the road. This big crossover feels smaller than its size, responding readily to driver inputs and gathering its weight quickly to change directions. The vehicle still leans a bit in turns, and that causes some mildly annoying passenger head toss.

The steering is light but fairly quick, and the brakes have a natural, progressive feel. The ride is quite smooth, too, and occupants are well insulated from road and engine noises. Overall, the driving experience is quite pleasant and on par with the equally impressive Explorer and Durango.

The Traverse's 3.6-liter V6 engine offers plenty of power for everyday commuting. Zero to 60 mph takes 7.7 seconds with front-wheel drive, and the extra weight of all-wheel drive adds about a half second to that time. Either way, the Traverse has willing pep off the line and enough in reserve to make highway passing a worry-free proposition. While we like this engine, both the Explorer and Durango offer more powerful alternatives to their base V6s.

The engine works well with the reworked 6-speed automatic transmission to shift quickly and smoothly. However, we were able to confuse the transmission by hitting the gas, then letting off. This shouldn't be a problem if you are smooth on the throttle.

Right for you?
The 7- or 8-passenger seating makes the Traverse a fine choice for larger families or those involved in carpools with the neighbors. It has one of the better third-row seats on the market, and more cargo space than any crossover. Owners will prefer the driving dynamics of Traverse versus body-on-frame SUVs, which have been relegated to towing duty due to more efficient crossovers such as the Traverse.

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.

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BB06 - 7/10/2014 10:02:10 PM