- What’s Best: Increased roominess for passengers and luggage, new included equipment levels, new techs and updated styling in two distinct brand flavours.
- What’s Worst: Rear visibility.
- What’s Interesting: The 2018 Traverse is the fourth updated crossover from Chevrolet within a year, joining the Trax, Bolt EV and Equinox, and with the new Chevy Blazer mid-size due next spring. The 2018 Enclave is the sixth new Buick model introduced in less than two years and the Enclave lineup itself expands with a trim level based on the new ultra-lux Avenir sub-brand.
Choices, choices, so many choices.
Crossovers continue to steamroll other segments as customers shift from sedans to SUV-flavoured styling, passenger room and cargo versatility.
On the biggish side of that equation, the recent debut hullabaloo has focused on new seven- or eight-passenger additions like the Subaru Ascent and VW Atlas.
But, within that same vehicle class, there’s something to be said on the steady evolution of GM’s three-row crossovers.
The Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are two of the biggest CUVs in GM’s lineup, stretching the boundaries between mid-size and full-size categories, the last crossover stop before full-blown truck-based ute offerings like the Tahoe, Yukon and Suburban.
These fraternal siblings, closely linked but not quite identical, have been around for a decade but they have debuted anew in second-generation form for the 2018 model year.
The changes start with a 50 mm (2-in) wheelbase stretch and added body length.
Overall weight was reduced and a broad redesign by stylists and engineers focused on creating best-in-class third row leg room and increasing cargo space, while also adding new premium cues, new tech and new trim levels.
Let’s take a quick spin in two examples.
CHEVROLET TRAVERSE PREMIER AWD 2018:
Our as-tested 2018 Traverse Premier ($53,590) loses the amorphous jelly-bean-like influences of the past with an injection of design machismo attributed to the truck stylings of GM’s full-size road warriors.
And, in this case, that harder-edged and trucky attitude gets bumped up a further notch, thanks to a Redline Edition package ($995) that adds 20-inch black aluminum wheels with unique red stripe accents. I’d be very tempted to add red calipers too.
Also included in the Redline Edition are blacked-out treatments to the dark window trim, a black ice grille, black fog lamp bezels, black roof rails, a black licence plate surround and black Traverse badges on red outlines. Even the brand bowtie insignia is blacked-out.
This is one cool-looking crossover.
And, under that edgy veneer, a new 3.6-litre direct injection V6 engine with start/stop tech offers a 10 per cent power boost over its predecessor, making 310 hp and 266 lb/ft of torque streamed through a nine-speed Hydra-Matic 9T65 automatic and all-wheel drive. A new Traction Mode Select system comes standard.
This powertrain combo hauls butt.
It will also transport almost anything else with its 2268 kg (5,000 lb) tow rating when trailer prepped. Fuel economy is rated at 13.7/9.4L/100km (city/hwy) with my real world result averaging out to 10.4L/100km (comb).
Yes, there’s an optional 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor in an RS model and front-wheel-drive starting in base trim, but the V6 AWD combo make up the bulk of sales.
Coming on the heels of an earlier test drive of Chevrolet’s smaller Equinox, the Traverse’s added roominess was immediately noticeable.
Storage spaces within the vehicle have grown and improved, the large cargo space can be accessed through a hands-free powered tailgate, and the new split-folding second row seat or captain’s chairs improve on their original Smart Slide design for easier access to the third row.
And those are just a few of the improvements to a broad roster of available and standard techs and features within the new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.
Review: 2018 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD
BUICK ENCLAVE PREMIUM AWD 2018:
A comparison drive in the 2018 Buick Enclave Premium ($60,510) adds a different flavour to the formula.
The platform dimensions may be the same but the Enclave is wider with a lowered roofline and it features a more organic, curvaceous sense of style inside and out with flowing dash lines and fewer right angles.
Buick has always been positioned between Chevrolet and Cadillac so there’s an obvious uptick in included content and quality, geared towards a more traditional, classically minded audience.
Our Premium level tester bolsters that more inclusive mindset with an Experience Buick package ($3,170), adding 20-inch polished wheels, a dual-pane moonroof and Buick infotainment & navigation.
The same 3.6-litre V6, nine-speed auto tranny and AWD system boast power and fuel economy numbers similar to those of the Traverse with my fuel econ average coming in this time at 12.6L/100km (comb).
This Enclave is, as expected, packed with features. The safety and driver-assist techs, for example, include up to 17 radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors.
New Evonik Acrylite LED technology, bi-functional LED projector headlamps and LED tail lamps accent a unique exterior look while sleek exterior aerodynamics, sound deadening acoustics and Buick QuietTuning with active noise cancellation combine for a hushed tone of quiet ambiance within the cabin. It’s a complete package in typically unique Buick style.
With varying selections within GM’s three-row crossover lineup, the newly redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse ($38,300-$58,900) and 2018 Buick Enclave ($47,900-$61,900) offer smooth, powerful capabilities with differing content and price ranges.
The increased roominess and qualities in common are individually enhanced with unique packaging, specific brand marque recognition factors and with stand-apart styling flavours.
And with combined purchases pushing their popularity into the upper reaches of the segment’s sales numbers, the Traverse and Enclave also offer competitive and competent choices for crossover customers looking for extra room, extra power, extra everything.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse Premier AWD & 2018 & Buick Enclave Premium AWD
BODY STYLE: Five-door, seven-/eight-passenger full-size crossover (CUV)
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, nine-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 3.6-litre direct injection DOHC V6 engine (310 hp, 266 lb/ft).
FUEL ECONOMY: 3.6-litre AWD 13.7/9.4L/100 km (city/hwy).
CARGO: Traverse 651/1,645/2,789 litres behind third row/second row/first row; Enclave 668/1,642/2,764 litres.
TOW RATING: 3.6-litre – 2,268 kg (5,000 lb)
PRICES: Chevrolet Traverse Premier AWD $53,590; Buick Enclave Premium $60,510 not including $1,700 destination fee
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