You’ve no doubt noticed how many car adds there are in print, on TV, on the radio and online. With all the money spent on advertising, it’s no wonder that marketing departments carry big sticks within companies. You can thus imagine that when a new product is launched, such as the one I just recently attended for the 2018 Traverse, is jam packed with slogans, preconceived ideas and even subliminal messages.
This is all to say that I always make sure to not fall in the trap however, I must admit that this time, I may have fallen right into it. The event’s theme surrounding the new 2018 Chevy Traverse was the “mobile command center”. For the average family, this says a lot about transportation needs for said family.
Chevrolet’s pulled out all the stops for this one. Not only have they smartly integrated all now necessary 21st Century technologies but they’ve managed to create a large new Traverse that is agreeable to drive. This is in stark contrast to its non-identical twin, the GMC Acadia, as the Chevy meets and exceeds expectations.
Styled à la large Chevy SUV
The Traverse photo gallery portrays a far more robust and assured crossover than previous. This is a direct consequence of using the full-size Tahoe and Suburban as inspiration and it works very well. I actually find it more “truck-like” than its GMC sibling.
Typically, a base model is less physically appealing but this not the case with the Traverse. The add-ons from higher trims improve on the already handsome vehicle. For 2018, Chevy’s introduced a few extra versions and the more notable ones are the top-line High Country and the RS, available only with the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and FWD. A Redline package can be added (also offered on the Equinox and Trax) to the Premier and includes black chrome accents, black wheels with red highlights, and tinted taillights. The visual effect is cool and worth the $995.
We all know that a large 3-row crossover exists only because no one wants to be seen in a minivan. Trying to replace a minivan’s versatility is next to impossible but despite this, the Traverse does a swell job and gives it its best shot.
The LS version features three full rows of seats for a total of eight passengers. From the LT on, unless selecting the 8-passenger option in the LT, all are equipped with 2nd row captain’s chairs. They turn out to be ideal for all body types and can slide and tilt forward for access to the rear without needing to remove the baby seat. And said 3rd is actually good as even a big boy like me can find a certain level of comfort.
The trunk is capacious and it only gets larger once the seats are stowed. Behind the 3rd row, the Traverse delves up 651 liters of volume and that’s without counting the under-floor storage bin. Up front, there are loads of storage areas for everything. There’s even a hidden compartment behind the 8” screen with USB plug that can be locked to keep your valuables safe.
Lots of technology
The theme “mobile command center” makes all the more sense when we dive into the exhaustive list of standard and optional features.
Every Traverse is delivered with the highly functional and user-friendly Chevrolet MyLink user interface. The 8” touchscreen (7” in the LS) display allows for easy navigation through all the menus. Among them, we find OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven compatible devices, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As long as the data plan is strong, everyone will be happy!
Moving forward, we must briefly consider safety. The Traverse wants to be a fortress of a command center and to be so, it is laden with collision prevention, driving aids, radars and more. There’s also a Teen Driver mode that automatically activates safety features and includes an in-vehicle report on your teen’s driving habits.
Own the road
The Chevrolet Traverse is evidently a large vehicle but the drive is far from poor. The 3.6-litre V6 (will account for 95% of sales) is revised for 2018 and now produces 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. The real good news is that the standard 9-speed automatic transmission is very competent, and smooth.
I was quite surprised at its perfect reactions to every throttle input or sudden release – past experiences have demonstrated that other 9-speeds fail the test miserably. This one is ideally calibrated and responsive. Depending on trim, FWD is standard and AWD is a $3,000 option. It goes without saying that the money is very well invested. Don’t forget to dial in AWD with the drive mode selector as AWD will not kick in on its own.
On the road, the Traverse feels heavy but rides comfortably. On rougher roads, it closes in on floaty but you’ll never get seasick. The suspension’s tuning still allows for some spirited maneuvers as I discovered first hand on a tight and twisty road near Moncton, NB.
The brakes are strong and the electric steering’s assistance is well judged. The only sore point here could be forward ¾ visibility. Depending on your height, you may find the base of the large “A” pillar cutting into your line of sight.
The AWD LT version should account for more than a third of all Traverse sales, and with reason. At $42,495, it combines all the compulsory elements to make the vehicle a true mobile command center with an enormous boot and good to drive.
The price range varies from $34,895 to $58,495 for the High Country. The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is already in showrooms.