Crossovers continue to gain popularity thanks to impressive interior room, strong fuel economy and a more carlike ride. Just freshened up last year, the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse remains a large and capable 3-row crossover with lots of functionality and a more modern approach to family motoring.

The Chevy Traverse won't tow 8,000-plus pounds and haul nine people like its Tahoe or Suburban counterparts, but most people don't need that capability. Instead, the Traverse can cart up to eight passengers and pull a 5,000-lb trailer, which is more than enough for the average American household. Additionally, the Traverse offers carlike handling, a plush ride, good fuel economy, a nice roster of convenience features and a stylish presence. What more could a family want?

For those who don't need an off-road-capable SUV and can't see themselves driving a minivan, the Chevrolet Traverse crossover is a very viable choice in a sea of large family vehicles.

What's New for 2014?

After a major update for the 2013 model year, the Traverse is largely unchanged for 2014. Its only major update comes on the LTZ trim, which adds a standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning system for the new model year.

What We Like

Abundant passenger and cargo space; carlike handling; impressive fuel economy; pleasing ride; comfortable interior

What We Don't

Less capable than a big SUV; too large for parking lot maneuvering; poor rear visibility

How Much?

$31,800-$42,000

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Traverse is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. This engine pairs with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The up-level LTZ gains another 7 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque thanks to its dual exhaust.

Estimated fuel economy is 17 miles per gallon city/24 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive, or 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive. Both setups yield a combined fuel economy of 19 mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse is available with four trim levels -- LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ.

Base-level LS models start at $31,800 with shipping. Standard features include automatic headlights, cruise control, Bluetooth and a rearview camera that sends its display to a standard 6.5-inch center-mounted touchscreen. Also standard are split-folding rear seats, cruise control and side curtain airbags.

The mid-level Traverse 1LT ($35,000) adds alloy wheels, fog lights, rear park assist, a power driver's seat and a remote starter. Drivers who step up to the Traverse 2LT ($38,000) get heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which boasts Bluetooth audio and smartphone app integration.

Topping the Traverse line is the luxury-oriented LTZ ($42,000), which includes a blind spot monitor, 20-in alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, leather seats and second-row captain's chairs. LTZ models also include newly standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems.

Major options include a navigation system, a dual-pane sunroof and a rear-seat DVD player.

Safety

The Traverse's safety equipment offers six airbags, including head curtain airbags for all three rows. A front center airbag (designed to keep the driver and passengers from colliding with each other in a side impact) is optional, as are blind zone and rear cross-traffic alert systems. The OnStar emergency telematics system is standard.

While the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn't tested the 2014 Traverse, similar 2013 models earned a 5-star overall rating in the group's crash tests. That rating includes a 5-star front impact rating, a 5-star side impact rating and a 4-star rollover rating.

Behind the Wheel

The 2014 Traverse enjoys carlike riding and handling thanks to its unibody construction. With a retuned suspension for the new model year, its road manners are significantly smoother and sharper than most large, truck-based SUVs. And in corners, it feels a good deal more stable. Body roll is minimal, and road grip is impressive. Drivers must still remain mindful of its sheer size, especially on tighter streets and in parking lots where maneuverability can be a challenge. Overall, the Traverse is very capable and comfortable for everyday driving.

The Traverse is not an off-road specialist. Those with all-terrain intentions should consider a more rugged, traditional SUV. But the Traverse is more than proficient in harsh snow, rain and mud conditions. The LTZ's large 20-in wheels are an additional asset in these circumstances.

In terms of power, the Traverse feels adequate in traffic. It's not particularly powerful, but it has the ability to accelerate with confidence when the need arises. In all other cases, power delivery is smooth, making for a quiet on-road experience with little drama. And that's what most drivers want in a family vehicle.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Flex -- The Flex offers better visibility, more expansive rear seating and a greater list of creature comforts and user technology. But the Traverse tops the Flex in handling.

Toyota Highlander -- The Highlander is smaller than the Traverse, so it doesn't offer as much space for passengers and cargo. But it still comes standard with 3-row seating, and it's smaller size makes it easier to manage in tight spaces.

GMC Acadia -- Since it's based on the same GM architecture as the Traverse, the Acadia is very similar on almost all fronts. The Acadia has more truck flair, while the Traverse leans more in a family-centric direction. But these are primarily visual differences established by interior and exterior styling cues.

AutoTrader's Advice

The 2014 Traverse 2LT makes the most sense to us. It's well equipped without going overboard on amenities. Its 18-in wheels are the perfect match for its chassis. The LTZ's 20-inchers create a bouncy ride, especially for rear-seat passengers. We strongly suggest going with all-wheel drive to remain fully capable through all road conditions. Options such as dual sunroofs, navigation and rear-seat DVD are must-haves for families who take frequent road trips.

AutoTrader

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