Review: 2018 Chevy Traverse
  • Car Review

Review: 2018 Chevy Traverse

By David Undercoffler | March 15, 2018

Autolist rating: 2/5
But would we buy it? Maybe
Price range: $30,925 - $53,595

Key takeaways

  • The Traverse boasts one of the most useful and spacious interiors in its segment.
  • It's hundreds of pounds lighter than its predeccessor so it's agile on the road.
  • The tech-based safety features on the Travserse lag many of its competitors and it’s not a great value.

What is it?

TLDR: Big, functional, comes with a V6.

The Traverse is Chevy’s largest crossover; it’s larger than the midsize Equinox and compact Trax, but it’s smaller than the Tahoe and Suburban SUVs.

The Traverse competes against the likes of Honda’s Pilot, Ford’s Explorer, Mazda’s CX-9, Toyota’s Highlander, Nissan’s Pathfinder and Volkswagen’s Atlas.

Chevy redesigned the Traverse for 2018. It’s several inches longer and now sports a handsome design, inside and out, and a choice of two engines, both of which are paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Nearly every trim level comes with a 310-horsepower V6 and standard front-wheel-drive.

The sport-tuned RS model is the only Traverse that comes with a 257-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

There are a variety of trim levels for the Traverse: the base L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country.

All-wheel-drive is a $2,000 or $3,800 option, depending on the model, though it’s not available on the RS and the base L.

What’s good

TLDR: Tons of room, style and power.

-- The interior space. The Traverse promises plenty of room for whatever and whoever you’re hauling around. While nearly every automaker in the industry offers a three-row crossover, few can match the space in the Traverse’s third row. The tall among us could ride back there on long trips with few complaints, it’s easy to get to the rear seats and they fold easily when not in use.

— The powertrain. Chevy trimmed several hundred pounds off the curb weight (how much the car weighs) of the 2018 Traverse, meaning the ultra-smooth V6 never has to work hard to accelerate. Overall this is a remarkably refined driving experience.

— The looks. Chevy’s designers outdid themselves with the styling of the Traverse. Handsome, upscale and unique aren’t guaranteed in this segment of family-haulers but this Chevy has all three in spades.

What’s bad

TLDR: Thirsty at the gas pump, not enough standard safety features.

— Where’s the beef? The Traverse is surprisingly stingy when it comes to amenities, especially compared to its rivals. Our $42,500 test model had a relatively spartan interior that seemed out of place given the price tag. Not even a sunroof.

— This poor value also affected its safety gear; our test Traverse lacked any kind of advanced safety tech like pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist or radar-cruise control. Many competitors offer it standard on their higher-end models above $40,000 or as options on lower-cost models. On the Chevy, you have to spend nearly $47,000 to get any of these items.

5 stars of execution

Safety? No

  • As mentioned, the Traverse lacks many of the tech-based safety features that are becoming common across the industry. Things like pre-collision braking and lane-keeping assist aren’t even available on most trims of the Traverse; they’re only optional on the high-end Premier and High Country. That shouldn’t be the case in 2018.
  • The good news is the Traverse does have a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested it yet).

Value? No

  • On paper, our $42,500 test model had plenty of goodies, including second-row captains chairs, leather seats all around, a Bose 10-speaker sound system, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a power tailgate.
  • But we still couldn’t look past the low-rent interior trim or the lack of active safety equipment. It felt like a rental vehicle with a big price tag.

Efficiency? No

  • Traverse models with the V6 are rated at 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined.
  • That’s decent for its segment but not remarkable.
  • Our personal testing -- in more city driving than highway driving -- returned around 14 miles per gallon.

Driving experience? Yes

  • With a curb weight that’s hundreds of pounds lighter than its predecessor and a silky smooth V6 under the hood, the Traverse accelerates effortlessly.
  • It also drives smaller than it is, meaning it’s easier to maneuver, park and turn around than you’d expect, given its size. It's also lighter than the previous generation, which helps its agility.

Execution? Yes

  • Despite the spartan interior, the build quality of the Traverse feels rock solid.
  • It’s exceptionally quiet on the road.
  • The well-executed interior and vast amount of space make the Traverse one of the most practical vehicles in the segment.

Total Rating: 2 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

A base Traverse L starts at $30,925. That gets you the V6 engine, front-wheel-drive, a back-up camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and keyless entry.

The cheapest all-wheel-drive model is the $35,595 LS, which doesn’t add much on top of what the L comes with.

Our pick of the Traverse family would be the LT Cloth with all-wheel-drive. For $39,895, this model adds a larger touchscreen in the dashboard, heated front seats, folding captains chairs in the middle row, blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors.

The sport-oriented RS is the only model with the smaller, 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine (which we didn’t test). It’s front-wheel-drive only and starts at $43,595. In addition to the engine, it has unique 20-inch alloy wheels and exterior trim, heated front seats, power liftgate and blind-spot monitoring.

From there, buyers can spend thousands more adding various goodies to the vehicle.

A loaded Traverse High Country with all-wheel-drive is at the top of the range and starts at $53,595. It comes with a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist, 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, navigation, a wifi hotspot, heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Also consider

As mentioned, the Traverse is in a highly competitive class, so there is no shortage of strong competitors.

VW’s Atlas, Honda’s Pilot, Kia’s Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe are all well-rounded rivals that you should check out.

Mazda’s CX-9 is the best-handling competitor and it has the best styling, though it’s more cramped inside than most others.

But nothing beats the Traverse for pure functionality and it’s right behind the Mazda in the looks department.

Final thoughts

We liked the Traverse for its interior space and practicality, its refined driving dynamics and its exterior styling. But because of its basic interior and lack of important safety features as standard, we recommend looking at its competitors, too, since many offer a more well-rounded package.