THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Segment leading passenger and cargo volume along with leading-edge connectivity and up to eight-passenger seating starting at $36,790.
- What’s Worst: Too soon to tell at this point. C-pillars are obstructive but largely negated by the surround camera system.
- What’s Interesting: To make is easier for buyers, Traverse reduced the number of 2018 build combinations down to just 11 compared to 136 on the outgoing Traverse.
SHEDIAC, NB: Chevrolet is on a roll and it wants to pick up the pace with the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse full-size CUV.
For instance, Chevrolet sales-to-date are up 17 per cent, outpacing the industry at six per cent, while the newly-launched 2018 Equinox mid-size CUV is showing year-to-year sales up 47 per cent.
Always a solid seller, Chevrolet decided for 2018 to take all the sometimes confusing Traverse trims and options off the table and make packaging simpler.
They did this by offering just 11 build combinations on the 2018, compared to 136 on the outgoing Traverse.
Next they made a lot of stuff standard, such as tri-zone automatic climate control, 4G LTE WiFi, Rear Seat Reminder, rear view camera, wireless audio streaming with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and Traction Mode Selection — all for a starting price of $36,790.
Rear Seat Reminder is new and gives the driver a prompt when switching off to make sure something or someone is not left behind and leaving the vehicle.
All Traverse models are powered by an improved version of GM’s direct injection, 3.6-litre V6, in this case producing 310 hp and 266 lb/ft of torque through a new nine-speed transmission that replaces the six-speed in the outgoing model.
Front- or all-wheel-drive is offered on the lower trim LS and LT models, but after that AWD is standard on the higher-trim LR True North, Premier, High Country and Redline models with the High Country getting an exclusive AWD with a dual clutch system.
The one exception is the RS coming later in the model run with a 2.0-litre direct injection turbo four-cylinder with 255 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque with a nine-speed automatic transmission with FWD only.
The reason for the RS is Chevrolet Canada has noticed strong sales of the Traverse inside large urban centres such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, where a bigger, thirstier engine and AWD is not generally needed.
In any CUV, even a full-size one, cargo and passenger volumes matter and the three-row Traverse has claimed class-leading cargo of 651 litres (23.0 cu ft) behind the third row seats and 2,789 litres (98.5 cu ft) with the second and third row seats folded.
Towing when properly equipped is 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) and 681 kg (1,500 lb) with the RS.
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The press launch of the Traverse was held in and around Shediac, NB, arguably the Lobster Capital of the World.
This is lovely country with amiable people, nicely kept roads and stunning vistas every kilometre.
The first day I drove the base LS front-driver, which is a big vehicle anyway you look at it.
About the size of a Suburban SUV but at less cost, passenger volume, as noted above, is best-in-class with access to the third row easy for even someone like myself with a full figure.
Connectivity is king these days and GM is an industry leader with 4G LTE WiFi, Mylink and OnStar, which, to me, is the best live-attendant system in the world.
On the way back, I drove the LT AWD which Chevrolet considers its “volume” model, but in True North trim which adds leather seating surfaces, 20-inch aluminum wheels, dual pane sunroof, six-way power passenger seat, Bose premium audio navigation, 110-volt power outlet and surround vision camera with rear vision camera mirror.
With AWD comes a mode selection rotary drive knob allowing on-the-fly switch between AWD and FWD (better economy) as well as 2X4 (AWD disconnect), 4X4, Off-Road and Tow/Haul (if equipped).
On FWD drive, the switch allows 2X4, Snow and Tow/Haul modes.
I spent much of my time riding in the second and third rows with my co-pilot driving, because being comfortable over several hours is important.
The third row seats weren’t hard, but “firm” describes it best, while the second row had limo-like legroom and the seats were plush but also supportive.
I expected noise in a cavernous vehicle like the Traverse to be loud in the back but it was hardly noticeable in the second row and acceptable in the third row but there was tire noise.
Power from the 3.6-litre was strong, thanks in no small part to their shift logic of the nine-speed automatic which changes gears imperceptivity.
The sizeable C-pillars weren’t much a challenge out in rural New Brunswick, but they could be another thing altogether on a multi-lane super highway when merging or changing lanes.
But, when it comes to parking, the surround and rear view camera take a lot of the risk out of making a mistake.
Cruising between Moncton and Shediac, the Traverse really showed its mettle as a comfortable and commodious vehicle for a drive between towns or across the country.
The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse more than fills the bill for those looking for seven- or eight-place seating, but not at the expense or fuel consumption of a full-size body-on-frame SUV.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
BODY STYLE: Five-door, seven-/eight-passenger full-size crossover (CUV).
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-/all-wheel-drive with nine-speed automatic transmission
ENGINE: 3.6-litre direct injection V6 engine (310 hp, 266 lb/ft); 2.0-litre direct injection inline four-cylinder (255 hp, 295 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 3.6-litre FWD, 12.9/8.7/11.0L/100 km city/highway/combined; AWD, 13.7/9.4/11.8L/100 km; 2.0-litre, FWD, 11.7/9.0/10.5L/100 km
CARGO: 651 litres (23.0 cu ft) behind third row seats, 2,268 litres second and third rows folded.
TOW RATING: 3.6-litre, 2,268 kg (5,000 lb); 2.0-litre, 681 kg (1,500 lb)
PRICING: LS (FWD/AWD) $36,790/$39,790; LT Cloth (FWD/AWD), $41,090/$44,090; LT True North AWD, $49,390; RS Turbo FWD, TBA; Premier AWD, $54,390; High Country AWD, $60,390
WEB SITE: GMCanada