Auto review: The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse makes an ideal mobile family room

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 4, 2018

       

The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country mid-size SUV drives onto the stage Monday, January 9, 2017 during its unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich

Most Americans are fairly fat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American man is 5’9", weighs 195.5 pounds and has a waist size of nearly 40 inches. The average femme fatale is 5’4", weighs 166 pounds and has a waist slightly more than 37 inches. Clearly, the only weight watching we’re doing is watching it grow.

This means that the small, front-wheel-drive cars that the EPA would prefer that you drive don’t provide the space, comfort and utility that we need. And with climate change providing weather scenarios that seem out of the norm, is it any wonder that Americans now prefer crossovers to compact or midsize sedans?

That said, the redesigned 2018 Traverse offers the space for those who live large. With slightly more than 157 cubic feet of space, this cavernous three-row crossover can carry up to eight passengers and 23 cubic feet of lifestyle debris. Legroom in the first two rows is generous, while the third row proves to be adequate for those limber enough to reach it. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; its 204.3-inch length is longer than almost any sedan. And the dual sunroofs lend the cabin an even more spacious feel.

Better yet, second row passengers get climate controls, seat heaters and manually operated side shades. But it’s only the beginning of the little touches that make the Traverse easy to live with. Up front, you’ll find the instrument panel is logically designed, with controls clustered by function. Chevrolet’s easy-to-use MyLink infotainment system comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen moves at the touch of a button, revealing a hidden storage compartment with built-in USB port. There’s a 10-speaker Bose audio system, USB and audio input ports, and an integrated WiFi hot spot. In the center console, you’ll find a wireless charging pad for your smartphone. And the front seats are ventilated and heated. There’s even a heated steering wheel and three-zone automatic climate control.

Offered in L, LS, LT, RS, Premier and High Country models, the front-wheel-drive Traverse can be fitted with optional all-wheel drive, although it’s standard on the top-of-the-line High Country model.

All models are powered by a standard 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 and nine-speed automatic transmission except on the RS, which gets a 257-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Given the Traverse’s two-ton curb weight, the turbo engine’s rating seems meager, although there wasn’t a chance to test one. On the other hand, the V-6 provided the power necessary to move with some authority. Power delivery was strong and steady, with the transmission providing timely, seamless shifts. A stop/start system, which shuts off the engine when stopped for traffic lights to save fuel, works imperceptibly. However, fuel economy was disappointing on the all-wheel drive Premier test vehicle. Although EPA rated at 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 17 city, 25 highway with all-wheel drive, the Traverse’s fuel economy never broke 20 mpg, with an overall fuel economy rating of 18.8 mpg in an even mix of suburban parkway and highway driving.

What didn’t disappoint was this crossover’s dynamics. The Traverse remains poised no matter what you throw at it, with a comfortably compliant ride balanced with an agility that’s surprising for such a big beast. Body lean is evident in corners, but comes on gradually. Despite its size, it never feels unwieldy or clumsy, something that can’t be said of the Tahoe, which is nearly as long and almost two inches wider than the Traverse.

As you’d expect on a family vehicle, the Traverse can be fitted with forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, however they’re only offered in option packages on higher trim levels.

Nevertheless, the Traverse makes a strong case as an ideal mobile family room, one wrapped in sophisticated, handsome sheet metal and fitted with the many options that make family hauling more pleasant.

And it has the space to handle the average American’s ever expanding waistlines — and expectations.

———

Stats

Base prices: $30,875-$53,595

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

Horsepower: 310

Torque: 266 pound-feet

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 18/27 (FWD), 17/25 (AWD)

Wheelbase: 120.9 inches

Length: 204.3 inches

Cargo capacity: 23-98.3 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds

Curb weight: 4,362 pounds

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars