The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse can make you upgrade from the econo-commuter that you love so much and the appeal is not just its generous volume.
- Reviewed by: Raj Warrior
There is something almost alluring about the big full-size SUV. They are almost typically American, if not by the origin of their marque, certainly from the volume of sales. And even if we look only at retail sales, cars like the Chevrolet Tahoe are still being sold in significant numbers and usually with all the toppings.
But there is a strong impetus towards downsizing engines despite the rather fortuitous past couple of years. The American consumer has just about got used to fuel being under three dollars a gallon, but the case remains for a fuel efficient large SUV.
Chevrolet’s Traverse platform sits in that rather special bracket just under the full size truck-inspired Tahoe. In fact, if you were to take a look inside the car you would think that it is actually bigger in a couple of important ways. But we will come back to that later.
The most important aspect is that the Traverse has seen a shift away from the rounded styling associated with the first generation. It still remains a crossover in spirit, but the styling is now very reminiscent of the brand’s full size SUV range and the new platform allows for an increase in the wheelbase by a couple of inches to bring the new vehicle closer to the ideal. This Traverse is so much more meaty and desirable. It has the strong new grille treatment of the bowtie brand, with some rather dramatic lighting. While the car gets a regular projector headlight with LED piping from base, the Premier and the High Country versions get a rather striking new arrangement that uses LED projector and a complex prism arrangement composed of D-shaped elements set in a row. The light diffusion is so good, you don’t get banding.
The profile is also strengthened with a roofline that seems to float above the darkened windows, supported by the visual strength of a raked A-pillar and a strong car-like C-pillar treatment. The use of blacked out D-pillar elements and the wrap-around windows sets off the package. You can almost visualise the Traverse as it would look in an SUT version.
The rear of the car is also worked to emphasise the width of the car. The rear skid plate and bumper are quite deep, with the electric tailgate being appropriately foreshortened. The tailgate can be opened hands-free and can be set to open only to a certain height (avoids hitting a low garage roof). The taillight assembly is almost wing-like off the rear plate slot. The car gets bowtie puddle lighting in certain grades.
The modern look of the interiors has been really worked on by the brand. You have Cadillac as a design inspiration at work here – although the choice of materials and some styling elements are deliberately left different. The large central display now sits on a pop-up panel that opens to reveal a generous storage unit behind it. The instrument panel is an amalgam of multi-layered analogue and digital displays. The idea seems to give it a depth and connect that an only digital panel lacks. So you get the traditional twin circles of the tach and speedometer set quite wide apart to accommodate the large digital readout while also allowing the traditional analogue fuel and temperature gauges.
The plastics have been reworked to lighten up the cabin. Now the choices of colours allow for a dark non-reflective bit ahead of you while the seat wells get a paler shade. While chrome surrounds are effectively used to delineate specific areas, it is still muted and tends towards the subtle. The width of the cabin is highlighted by the width of the centre armrest and the huge storage built in there.
Depending on the variant you buy, you’ll get a choice of leather, wood inlay, better and larger screens for the central display and the IP (either 3.5 regular or 4.2″ colour display). And you get a two panel sunroof that serves like a panoramic unit, yet opens in a far more logical manner.
The cabin offers three-row seating, with a genuine large SUV experience. Even with the third row deployed, the cargo volume is 651 litres and the Traverse offers a stacked seating arrangement to offer theatre style seating across the three rows. The seats can be dropped electrically at the rear and the access seat on the second row opens to provide a generous ingress to the third.
This volume has been achieved without adding too much weight to the structure. The kerb weight is just under two tonnes.
Powertrain and Chassis
While the US offering of the Chevrolet Traverse gets the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged unit as the base unit on its FWD model, the middle east region will only get the higher capacity 3.6-litre V6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine is already used in other GM products but is basically a new generation of the V6 aluminium block – this unit offers direct injection, an over-square piston (bore 95mm and stroke 85.8mm) and CVVT connected to a fly-by-wire throttle.
Maximum power delivery is 310hp at a healthy 6,800rpm while the torque at 360Nm also peaks at only 2,800rpm.
The car gets an electric power assist for its steering, with active return assist, giving a turn circle of 11.9 metres. The suspension layout is composed of the traditional MacPherson strut at the front (although with a lightweight hollow stabiliser bar) and the rear gets a more compact five-link arrangement that is enhanced with damping and also gets a stabiliser bar.
While the base Traverse gets 18″ wheels as standard, higher grades get the 20″ either as standard or optional. The choice of alloy wheels is linked to the grade. Base tyres are P225/65R18 and the larger one is 255/55R20.
You can’t but like the new Chevrolet Traverse. The bulk is tangible when you are negotiating a parking or a traffic signal, but once you settle in for the long drive, it seems to shrink in size. The platform is noticeably tighter than before, with the suspension so nicely worked on that you get minimal wallow and a very sure-footed response from the steering wheel and suspension. The feeling is that some rather intelligent trade-off has been achieved in the bargain – you get just enough volume without suffering the consequences and you also get a platform that seems almost butch enough to take on anything.
The drivetrain is set to perform at the best level for on-road driving. The Hydra-Matic 9T65 gearbox has a rather stretched out top two gears, but it isn’t as if the lower gears are badly chosen – you can push the pedal to get tyre squeal and the car’s driver assistance package comes in handy to both temper the takeoff as well as on the road where you get the full benefit of lane watch, lane keep and the like from the beep and buzz on your glutes.
It isn’t as if we actually did any off-road driving with the Traverse. After all we were driving it on state roads around Traverse City and the peninsula it sits on bordering the Great Lakes. Lots of scenic and winding roads, with the opportunity to verify that the steering is communicative, there is just a hint of tyre noise, the weight shifts are predictable and chassis tuning is firmer than before.
The all-wheel drive is a demand based system that channels most of the torque to the front wheels, essentially coasting the rear until some wheel slip is communicated. The function of a terrain or drive mode selector is delegated to a knob on the centre console, with the choice of locking in AWD for off-road driving. Even the FWD versions get the knob, although there the choice is between snow, highway and sporty driving.
The new Chevrolet Traverse has undergone a sea change and now debuts a host of features and technology that you would only expect on premium cars. And you would have expected the price of the Traverse to reflect that value. We were kept in the dark about pricing while we tested the Traverse in the US, but we have been given the price in the region now and it looks really sensible.
The Traverse will be available in both FWD and AWD versions through the LS, LT, LT with leather and Premier grades. Only the High Country comes in only AWD mode. Prices in the UAE as listed range from AED 116,553 for the FWD LS version all the way up to AED 183,058 for the AWD High Country. What’s really interesting is that the AWD Premier with its host of features, including driver assist, hands-free tailgate and upmarket screens will come in at AED 157,629.
The Traverse is finally really competitive against the bulk of competition. It is definitely a genuine three row large SUV. It is almost un-American in its chassis tuning. And it has a feature pack that can keep you happy, like the top class 10-speaker Bose audio system, wireless mobile phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and lots of USB charging points. And you can also get the newest gimmick – the rearview mirror that doubles up as a high definition screen for a rear facing camera. It’s worth having a look at in the showroom.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse
|Length Width Height (mm)||5189 x 1996 x 1795|
|Engine||3.6-litre DOHC V6 GDI|
|Power HP@RPM||310 @ 6800|
|Torque Nm@RPM||360 @ 2800|
|Gearbox||9-speed Hydra-Matic 9T65|
|Fr Suspension||MacPherson strut independent with hollow stabilizer bar|
|Rr Suspension||Five-link independent with auxiliary spring aids|
|Brakes||Four-wheel-disc, variable brake system with power assist|
|Wheels||18-in. aluminium (LS, LT Cloth) 20-in. aluminium (LT Leather, Premier and High Country)|
|Tyres||P225/65R18 ALS and P255/55R20 ALS|