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It's been nearly a decade since the Chevy Traverse launched, arriving early in a three-row crossover market that would become highly competitive and profitable. For 2018, it received its first top-to-bottom redesign, becoming significantly different from its GMC Acadia corporate sibling.
We borrowed a 2018 Traverse Premier to test for a week. It's a massive improvement over the outgoing model, and is the best three-row family crossover on the market.
The most impressive thing about the Traverse is how well it handles itself on the road. While many three-row SUVs tend to be lumbering and bouncy, the Traverse isn't. The ride is soft but not too springy, with handling that's confident.
A traditional 3.6-liter V6 engine powers the Traverse, with a 9-speed automatic transmission as it's partner. There's little to say of the powertrain, except that it does its job and stays out of the way, keeping the Traverse quiet.
It's by no means fun to drive — there are no sporty pretenses here — but that's not particularly important for buyers in this class. The Traverse doesn't feel, from the driver's seat, like you're commanding a 17-foot barge, and that's important.
The interior of the Traverse is cavernous. Unlike many three-row vehicles on the market, the Traverse actually has a usable cargo area behind the back row. There are also nice bucket seats for the middle row on the $48,355 Premier FWD model I tested, with a third row that can easily fit adults.
I appreciated the usability of the Traverse's insides. Each row and seat moved and folded easily, without the unnecessary complications of power folding rows. That usability carries over up front, where you'll find that everything from the infotainment system to the essential controls are laid out for ease-of-use instead of flash.
GM's MyLink infotainment system is still the primary interface, and it's still one of the industry's less-annoying options. Wireless charging, WiFi, cooled seats, CarPlay, Android Auto and a panoramic roof all were included on my loaded tester. No surprises here, as GM does a great job of pushing must-have tech features to its entire lineup.
Finally, the interior is appointed nicely and designed handsomely. Chevy refrained from deploying too much of the flat gray plastic that I derided in the Enclave, the Traverse's corporate twin.
I'm all for a light interior, but cement gray covering literally every surface makes it feel like an asylum.
The Traverse also suffers aesthetically on the outside. The Cajun Red Tricoat paint is lovely, and from the back or side, the Chevy isn't bad looking. The rear end is wrapped and tucked smoothly to make the Traverse less massive, but the design falls apart a bit at the front.
The combination of a trim rear, long midsection, and gaping front grille that visually widens the nose of the vehicle makes this an awkward design. The visual weight of the car is pulled to the nose, making the whole thing look front-heavy.
Our main substantive critique is the lack of advanced driver assist options. Even on this nearly-loaded model, there was no active cruise control. Lane keeping assist was on board, but it was one of the less refined systems I've tested.
Start with an LT Leather package which costs $44,695. I'd add $395 for the Cajun Red Tricoat, because it's the best looking paint color. Black over gray is a good choice for the interior, since it avoids the monochrome look of the full-black or concrete option.
An additional $1,400 gets you a dual-panel sunroof to brighten up the cabin. Finally, I'd recommend spending $195 on the black Chevy Bowtie emblems. It sounds silly, but the bright yellow emblem cheapens the look of a car — and that's especially true when paired with red.
The Traverse is excellent. The motor is smooth and quiet and the ride refined and smooth. The space inside is enormous and tremendously usable, with the technology and luxury features buyers in this segment prioritize.
If you're looking for a family crossover and can get over the awkward looks, you should absolutely have the Chevy Traverse on your shortlist.
Driving Experience: 4
Price as tested: $48,355