When it comes to transporting the family, there’s no better vehicle for the task than a roomy crossover SUV. And when it comes to roomy crossover SUVs, it’s hard to go wrong with the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. Stylish, efficient and offering loads of room for kids and cargo, the Traverse is every bit as capable as a midsize minivan, but oh so much cooler. And even though the Traverse shares its underpinnings with the more expensive GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, it isn’t some bargain-basement offering. Inside you’ll find loads of amenities ranging from advanced driver assists to the latest in Wi-Fi and onboard connectivity. Although Chevy has no answer to the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Traverse is far from fuel thirsty. Priced to compete with the Ford Explorer, VW Atlas, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent, the Traverse proves GM still knows how to build a bargain.
What’s New for 2018?
What We Like
Big third-row seat; bigger cargo area; 4G LTE and Wi-Fi; optional turbocharged engine; comfortable seats; excellent infotainment setup; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible
What We Don’t
Tow rating drops from 5,000 pounds to 1,500 pounds with the turbo; active safety and driver assist features reserved for most expensive trims
The Traverse offers a number of engine and drivetrain options. All but the RS are powered by a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6; the RS is powered by a new 255-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The V6 has more horsepower than the smaller turbo, but not as much torque. The base LS and RS are offered only with front-wheel drive, while the top-line High Country comes standard with all-wheel drive. All other grades offer the option of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. A 9-speed automatic is standard on every Traverse.
The 3.6-liter V6 earns an EPA estimated 18 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway with FWD, and 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with AWD. The turbocharged 2.0-liter in the RS earns 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is offered in seven trims: L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country.
The base Traverse L ($30,875) comes with power windows, power locks, a rearview camera, HID headlights, power heated outside mirrors, 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, MyLink radio with a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless open and start, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control and seating for eight passengers.
The LS ($32,995, FWD; $34,995, AWD) adds tinted privacy glass and the option of all-wheel drive.
The LT Cloth ($35,495, FWD; $39,295, AWD) builds on the LS with second-row captain’s chair seating, 18-in brightface aluminum wheels, fog lights, roof rails, SiriusXM 3-month trial subscription, an 8-way power driver’s seat, express up/down power front windows and roof rails. The Convenience and Driver Confidence package is optional on the FWD LT and standard on the AWD model. The package adds an 8-in color touchscreen, navigation, driver information display, heated front seats, remote start, a power rear liftgate, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and rear park assist.
The LT Leather ($42,095, FWD; $44,095, AWD) adds the Convenience and Driver Confidence package, leather seating, Surround Vision camera with bird’s-eye view, 20-in wheels, Bose premium audio with 10-speakers and subwoofer, a rearview camera display mirror and a 6-way power passenger seat with power lumbar support.
The RS ($42,995) carries much of the LT Leather features, but substitutes a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, 20-in dark painted wheels plus signature black accents including roof fails, a grille bow tie badge and window trim.
The Premier ($45,395, FWD; $48,295, AWD) adds a hands-free liftgate, LED headlights, power tilt-telescopic steering column, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, Qi wireless charging and heated second-row seats. Optional equipment includes the Driver Confidence II package that brings forward-collision alert, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and automatic high beam headlights. This package is standard on AWD models along with the Trailering package and adaptive headlights. Also available is the Redline Edition that adds blackout trim and a panoramic sunroof.
The High Country ($52,995) adds all the optional features of the Premier plus an advanced AWD system featuring an auto-locking rear differential, adaptive cruise control with forward emergency braking, a power folding third-row seat and upgraded leather interior.
The Traverse comes standard with a full complement of airbags including front, front side-impact and 3-row side curtain airbags. Optional driver assist equipment varies by trim, with the top-line High Country having the most advanced systems.
In government crash testing, the 2018 Traverse scores a perfect 5-star rating. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet to test the Traverse, but gives its GMC Acadia cousin excellent marks in all crash tests, as well as accident avoidance when properly equipped.
Behind the Wheel
Managing Editor Tara Trompeter spent four days in the Traverse traveling with her family to Walt Disney World. These were her impressions of life with the Traverse:
Before we set off for the hotel, I paired my phone to the car, which was quick and painless. I was thrilled to see the Traverse offers Apple CarPlay, giving the SUV immediate brownie points in my book. However, instead of immediately connecting to CarPlay for Maps, I decided to try Chevy’s native navigation system to see how it worked. I found it to be pretty intuitive, and the system has a great way of saving destinations as favorites across the bottom of the screen.
I’ve spent the past few months driving long-term press cars like the Chrysler Pacifica and Nissan Armada, both of which are outfitted with dual rear-seat entertainment screens. My kids, ages six and three, were definitely disappointed by the lack of screens in the Traverse (a rear seat infotainment system with DVD player is a $2,000 option). But we quickly realized that 4G LTE is just as good … if not better. As any parent with young kids knows, tablets (not to mention plenty of snacks, coloring books and stickers) are the key to easy travel with little ones. We had two iPads with us, so we quickly connected them to Wi-Fi for later use (we’d be driving out to Cocoa Beach the next day and would surely need a distraction for the kiddos).
One thing I’ve always said about parents with kids still in convertible car seats is that if you need/want a third row, second-row captain’s seats with a clear pathway to the third row are absolutely essential. Convertible child safety seats are typically installed via the LATCH system, and once they’re installed properly, it’s REALLY hard to get them out. Without that easy access via a central pathway to the third row, your additional passenger has to climb in through the cargo area. Thankfully, the new Traverse offers captain’s seats with center-console-free access to the third row. But they’ve also managed to one-up the competition with one of the most parent-friendly features I’ve seen in the past few years. They call it the "Enhanced Smart Slide" second-row seat, which essentially means the second-row captain’s seat behind the passenger can tilt up and slide forward at the pull of a lever, even with a child safety seat installed. This feature alone is enough to sell most parents on the Traverse.
As rugged as this SUV looks, the ride is surprisingly quiet, comfortable and carlike, with tons of family-friendly features sprinkled throughout. From multiple hidden compartments (one behind the infotainment screen, another beneath the cargo area) to a giant center console, tons of USB ports and cupholders and Surround Vision (giving you the ability to see a 360-degree view around the car, an absolute must-have as a parent, in my opinion), the Traverse’s small details never cease to impress.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Volkswagen Atlas — The Atlas isn’t quite as roomy inside, but its interior is nicely appointed. The standard V6 is a bit fuel thirsty and can feel sluggish at times, but we think the Atlas gets the nod when it comes to ride and handling.
2019 Subaru Ascent — The Ascent comes standard with full-time AWD and its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gets better fuel economy than the Traverse’s V6. Collision avoidance technology comes standard on every Ascent, but the Subaru isn’t as roomy inside.
2018 Toyota Highlander — The Highlander offers good interior room, excellent fuel economy from its hybrid powertrain option and outstanding marks for resale and reliability. The Highlander matches the Traverse for towing, but not rear cargo space.
Used Chevrolet Tahoe — A 2014–2017 Chevrolet Tahoe offers more power for towing and hauling, a robust V8 and better performance off-road. It’s thirstier at the gas pump, however, and its third-row seat and cargo volume are not as generous as the Traverse.
For the money, we think the Traverse LT Cloth with AWD is the best choice of the bunch. However, if you want advanced driver assists like forward emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, you’re going to have to move up to the more expensive Premier or High Country trim.