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2017 Chevrolet Traverse: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2016

Now in its eighth year riding basically the same platform, the 2017 Chevrolet Traverse may be growing old, but in the world of 3-row, 8-passenger family SUVs, it's still very relevant. To begin with, the Traverse offers a usable third-row seat that fits two adults, and there's plenty of cargo space behind said seat. You won't find similar dimensions behind the third-row seat of a Hyundai Santa Fe, a Mazda CX-9 or a Honda Pilot.

The Traverse won't tow 8,000-plus pounds and haul nine people like its Chevrolet counterparts, the Tahoe and the Suburban, but most people don't need that kind of capability. Instead, the Traverse can cart up to eight passengers and pull a 5,000-pound 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? If you answered advanced driver-assist and safety features, that's one area where the Traverse comes up short of the competition. However, for those who don't need the latest electronic safety assists or who can't see themselves driving a minivan, the Chevrolet Traverse crossover is a very viable choice.

What's New for 2017?

The LTZ trim is renamed Premier, and a new, lower-priced, entry-level LS 1SM model is offered. Other than that, the 2017 Chevrolet Traverse sees no major changes. An all-new model based on the 2017 GMC Acadia is scheduled to debut in 2018.

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; lacking the latest driver-assist and collision-avoidance technology

How Much?

f$29,595-$43,000

Fuel Economy

The 2017 Traverse is available in front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The up-level Premier gains an extra 7 hp and an extra 4 lb-ft of torque thanks to its dual exhaust.

Estimated fuel economy is 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with either FWD or AWD.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Chevrolet Traverse is available with five trim levels: Base LS 1SM, LS, 1LT, 2LT and Premier.

The base-level LS 1SM starts at $29,595 with shipping and is offered only with FWD. Standard features include power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD radio with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen and a USB port, OnStar, Bluetooth, 17-in steel wheels with covers, a 60/40-split folding second-row seat, a split folding third-row seat, a tilt-telescopic steering column, remote keyless entry, cruise control, automatic headlights, a rear wiper/washer and a rear backup camera.

The LS ($32,195 FWD, $34,195 AWD) adds 4G LTE with Wi-Fi, Sirius XM satellite radio, steering-wheel audio controls, upgraded cloth seats and the option of AWD.

The midlevel Traverse 1LT ($34,995 FWD, $36,995 AWD) adds alloy wheels, fog lights, rear park assist, a power driver's seat, wood interior trim and a remote starter.

Drivers who step up to the Traverse 2LT ($37,545 FWD, $39,545 AWD) get heated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bose audio and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which boasts Bluetooth audio and smartphone-app integration.

Topping the Traverse line is the luxury-oriented Premier ($42,940 FWD, $44,940 AWD) which includes a blind spot monitoring system, 20-in alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, leather seats and second-row captain's chairs. Premier models also come standard with forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning.

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

Safety

The Traverse comes with 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 a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. The OnStar emergency telematics system is standard.

In government crash tests, the Traverse performed exceptionally well. The crossover earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with 5-star scores in the front- and side-impact tests and a 4-star rollover score. In testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Traverse scored a Good rating in all crash-test categories and a Basic rating in the crash-avoidance and mitigation tests.

Behind the Wheel

The 2017 Traverse delivers carlike ride and handling thanks to its unibody construction. With a retuned suspension, its road manners are significantly smoother and sharper than most large, truck-based SUVs. And in corners, it feels a good deal more stable than in the past. 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-lot situations where maneuverability can be a challenge. Overall, the Traverse is 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 conditions caused by snow, rain and mud. The Premier'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 can 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, which is what most drivers want in a family vehicle.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Honda Pilot -- The Pilot's design is newer than the Traverse's, and the Honda offers superior reliability and resale figures. It also offers features like Apple Car Play and collision mitigation with autonomous braking, but it can't match the Traverse's third-row seat size and cargo volume.

2017 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 its smaller size makes it easier to manage in tight spaces. Toyota makes autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning standard on every model.

2017 GMC Acadia -- All-new this year, the Acadia rides on a slightly smaller platform than the Traverse, but the GMC offers more interior features, better safety technology, a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines and a better AWD system. But the Traverse still offers more interior room.

Used Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban -- If you like the Traverse but need more room, consider a 2012-2015 Chevy Tahoe or Suburban. Both offer more interior space and bigger engines with more capabilities.

Autotrader's Advice

The 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 Premier's 20-in wheels create a bit of a bouncy ride, especially for rear-seat passengers. We strongly suggest going with AWD to remain fully capable through all kinds of road conditions. Options like dual sunroofs, navigation and a rear-seat DVD player are must-haves for families who take frequent road trips.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Chevrolet Traverse: New Car Review - Autotrader