Traverse paces large crossovers

The Chevrolet Traverse can hold as many as eight passengers. Prices start at $30,795 for the LS model with front-wheel drive.
The Chevrolet Traverse can hold as many as eight passengers. Prices start at $30,795 for the LS model with front-wheel drive. (CHEVROLET/MCT)
Posted: February 16, 2014

Chevrolet's big eight-passenger crossover, the Traverse, enters its sixth year for 2014, having received some exterior styling tweaks, interior enhancements, and new technology just last year, all designed to make a great vehicle even better.

Prices for 2014 begin at $30,795 for the base LS model with front-wheel drive, and run as high as $43,255 for the LTZ with all-wheel drive.

Arguably one of the best of its class, the Traverse is an eight-passenger large crossover with lots of room for the family and their stuff.

Changes last year brought a more athletic exterior design, which included a new power-dome hood, horizontal grille, headlights, chrome accents, and sculpted front corners. The changes were intended to make the Traverse look more like other Chevrolet car models.

There were also new taillights and a new tailgate, and the cabin got some aesthetic upgrades, including contrast stitching, chrome and silver trim, and soft-touch surfaces on the doors and instrument panel.

In the middle of the dash is a standard touch-control radio with a 6.5-inch color screen, with the addition of the optional MyLink infotainment system, which is available with or without navigation.

A cool new feature that's been appearing on a number of vehicles recently is the optional blue ambient lighting that fills the lower part of the interior.

MyLink is similar to systems such as Ford's Sync and Toyota's Entune that allow for integration of the onboard audio system with smartphones for hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming, and connection to popular Internet sites such as Pandora and Stitcher. It's nowhere near as confusing as the Ford system, though, and includes real volume-control and tuning knobs for the radio, which allow for basic operation of the system without having to look at the touch screen.

Built on a car-style unibody structure, unlike traditional SUVs that are on a truck chassis, the Traverse is one of a trio of large crossovers from General Motors that share the same architecture. The others are the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, which also got makeovers for 2013.

Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, when equipped with dual exhaust outlets. With a single exhaust outlet, used on less-expensive models, the engine has 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

EPA ratings are 17 m.p.g. city/24 highway for the front-wheel-drive model, and 16 city/23 highway for the all-wheel drive.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all models are available with either seven- or eight-passenger seating, and front- or all-wheel drive.

To make the Traverse one of the roomiest of the crossover vehicles, the wheels were moved as close to the four corners as possible.

Our tester had more than adequate power for everyday driving, allowing the Traverse to accelerate quickly to freeway speeds on even uphill ramps. On some rather steep hills, the engine still allowed for decent acceleration, and the vehicle never seemed to bog down even with a full load of passengers and gear.

The optional all-wheel drive gives the Traverse great all-weather capabilities, along with limited off-road ability - allowing it to handle many of the dirt roads that might be found in national and state parks. But it has lower ground clearance than most traditional SUVs (just over 7 inches), and the all-wheel drive doesn't include low-range gearing for serious trail driving.

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