2015 Traverse New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover SUV, able to haul a truckload of cargo or up to eight people. Built more like a car than a truck, Traverse uses front-wheel drive and is much lighter than a Tahoe. As a result, Traverse rides like a car, handles well and gets decent fuel economy for its size.
All-wheel drive is optional to improve stability on winter roads and, if only by a bit, expand the range of surfaces the Traverse can traverse.
Traverse was launched as an all-new model for the 2009 model year. The 2013 Traverse got new front and rear styling, plus updated infotainment systems and cabin materials.
For 2014, Traverse gained Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Both features are standard on the LTZ version and available for the 2LT. Each alerts the driver with visual cues on the dashboard, as well as audible signals. All 2014 Traverse models added dual charge-only USB ports at the rear of the center console, for use by second-row occupants.
We found the Chevrolet Traverse to be an excellent family vehicle. It qualifies as a modern station wagon.
Underway, Traverse feels more like a big sedan than a truck. It rides comfortably and is much more stable than truck-based SUVs, which tend to lean in corners and bound over undulations. The steering is direct and responsive, very light in effort, and the brakes are easy to modulate for nice smooth stops. Drivers moving out of a compact or midsize SUV may find it bulky when parking, while folks trading down from full-size truck-based SUVs are likely to consider Traverse surpassingly carlike and nimble. It can tow a bass boat, but isn't equipped for heavy trailering.
Fuel economy for the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, and 16/23 with all-wheel drive. That's hardly stellar, but it has to be measured against the ability to traverse with six or seven of your friends, without being seen in a van.
Power is provided by a 3.6-liter V6, developing 281 horsepower with a single exhaust or 288 with dual exhaust (on LTZ models). The V6 delivers strong power, though it lacks the torque of a V8. A smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Inside Traverse you'll find plenty of space: more than a Tahoe but less than a van, which has similar outside dimensions. Space in the first and second rows is plentiful. The third row is bigger than most, and is even plausible for adults. Cloth or leather, the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The second- and third-row seats fold flat to open up a generous cargo area. Even with all the seats up, there is enough room behind the third row for a week's worth of groceries, and an available power liftgate makes access easy.
Controls are easy to reach and operate. The rearview camera, which comes standard, makes backing up this big vehicle easier and safer. The dashboard is attractive, even if there's more obvious plastic inside than we'd like at this price point.
For more deluxe cabin surroundings, consider the Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia, which dress the same mechanical platform in fancier furnishings. Otherwise, the Traverse may be just your ticket for moving people and cargo. More stylish and thirsty than a minivan, more efficient than a truck-based SUV, it's kind of like a big family sedan with a glassed-in cargo bay in back. We used to call these types of vehicles station wagons.
The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse is offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive ($2,000). All models have a 3.6-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission; 281 horsepower in LS and LT versions, but the LTZ with dual exhausts rates 288 hp.
Traverse LS ($30,795) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rearview camera, cruise control, four-way manually adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, three-passenger split-folding second-row seat, three-passenger split-folding third-row seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio (three-month trial), Bluetooth hands-free, automatic headlights, six months of OnStar Directions and Connections, and P245/70R17 tires on steel wheels.
Traverse LT ($34,010) adds an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, center-front airbag, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and variable-effort steering, heated power mirrors with turn signals, body-color moldings, a trip computer, keyless remote start, rear park assist, P255/65R18 tires on alloy wheels, and the option of second-row bucket seats. The Traverse 2LT ($36,865) gets three-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, heated front seats, second-row captain's chairs for seven-passenger seating, (a second-row bench for eight-passenger seating is available), Chevrolet MyLink telematics, Bose 10-speaker audio system with subwoofer and USB port, auto-dimming driver's side mirror, power liftgate and other features.
Traverse LTZ ($41,255) has leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated power-folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot/rear cross traffic warning, 8-way power front passenger seat, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, universal garage door opener, P255/55R20 tires on alloy wheels and numerous additional features. Forward Collision Alert and a Lane Departure Warning have been added for the 2014 model year. LTZ is seven-seat only.
Options include a navigation system ($795), which comes with the Bose sound system and a rearview camera; leather upholstery ($1,750 on 2LT); Trailering package ($575) with a heavy-duty engine cooler and a trailer hitch; two-panel sunroof ($1,400) with a fixed rear panel; a DVD rear entertainment system ($1,445 on 2LT/LTZ, $2,440 on 1LT) that includes the Bose sound system, rear audio controls, and a 115-volt outlet; chrome side steps. Optional for the 2LT are the two new safety features ($395).
Safety features include dual front airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitor, traction control and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, OnStar (six-month subscription), rearview camera. Rear park assist, center front side-impact airbag, and blind-spot/rear cross traffic warning are optional. LTZ versions now have Forward Collision Alert and a Lane Departure Warning. Traverse also offers a center airbag for the front seat.
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