The biggest improvement is found in the rear-end restyling. The previous model, while generally good-looking, had a derriere nobody would pat. This one is much more pat-able.
The new interior is very attractive business. Instrument and control placement is excellent.
While the Traverse comes on as strong and beefy, it is devoid of the usual macho styling cues evoking the rugged, truck-derived off-roader that has become shorthand for American gas guzzlers.
Rather than bouncing off rocks and trees, the Traverse's forte is its ability to haul things, be they folks, lumber, boats, or campers.
When a vehicle is almost 17 feet long, as the Traverse is, ample interior space is not unexpected. What does get your attention is how the Traverse's handsome interior uses that space.
The big Chevy will seat either seven or eight, depending on seating type. The front bucket seats and two rows of benches give you eight seats. When you substitute captain's chairs in the second row, as was the case with the tester, seating drops to seven.
The third row of seats is accessed by sliding the second row forward (or using the passage between the second-row captain's chairs). The second row is also adjustable fore and aft, meaning that you can tailor it to the leg lengths of the second- and third-row passengers. That allowed this 6-foot-2 driver adequate legroom in all three rows of seats, which I found remarkable.
The Traverse's interior also has plenty of storage. There's room for four carry-on bags behind the third row, plus a big cargo bin under the floor. Fold down the second and third rows of seats, and the cargo volume expands from an ample 24 cubic feet to about 120.
Towing is another strong suit for the Traverse. It can haul 5,200 pounds.
Traverse's power comes courtesy of a quite adequate, direct-injected, 3.6-liter V-6 engine that develops 288 horsepower when fitted with dual exhaust, as the top-of-the-line LTZ tester was. Thanks in part to fuel injection, this engine produces decent fuel economy for a vehicle its size. The front-drive model I tested had EPA mileage ratings of 17 city and 24 highway. The all-wheel-drive version comes in at 16 city and 23 highway.
The Traverse drives surprisingly well for a big guy. Engine power is more than adequate, while ride, handling and braking get high marks.
The Traverse provides a comfortable ride and an exceptionally quiet one, thanks in part to the fact that this hefty engine is turning over only 1,400 RPMs at 55 miles per hour.
The nice ride is complemented by surprisingly good handling. The vehicle is composed in the corners and evinces little in the way of lateral roll when encountering rough pavement. The steering is responsive, and the big antilock brakes shut things down promptly and without theatrics.
2013 Chevrolet Traverse FWD LDZ
Base price: $40,785
As tested: $44,410 (includes shipping).
Standard equipment: 3.6-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission, front-drive, OnStar service, full safety-gear menu, and a heap of hedonism that runs from heated and cooled front power seats and leather trim to tri-zone air-conditioning.
Options: Touch navigation, trailering equipment, and rear-seat entertainment system.
Fuel economy: 17 city,
Engine performance: Gutsy enough.
Styling: Still handsome.
Ride quality: Top drawer.
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles, bumper-to-bumper.
The Ben key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.
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