By Steve & Tami Laser
Chevrolet has a huge group of buyers who are extremely loyal to the brand. Some folks are on their second or third Corvette or Camaro while the devotion to the full-size Silverado pickup makes it a perennial best seller. The same can be said for the Tahoe and Suburban SUVs. So when Chevy introduced the all-new Traverse five years ago, it was a vehicle with a new name – and no link to the past.
While it could have easily carried over the TrailBlazer name from the long-running body-on-frame SUV, it was time to break with tradition and make a fresh start. This thoroughly modern crossover with unit body construction was Chevrolet’s version of GM’s Lambda platform that also underpinned the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.
Traverse has become a common sight on America’s highways with Chevrolet selling more than half a million units. What makes Traverse so popular is a combination of a spacious interior that seats up to eight passengers, an easy to drive character, affordable prices and the convenience of about 3,000 Chevrolet dealers which means there’s a good chance there’s one near you.
Last year Traverse received a freshened appearance with a new horizontal grille, power dome hood, new lighting designs and sculpted front corners. At the rear, a redesigned liftgate gained new taillights while the license plate pocket was relocated from the bumper to the middle of the liftgate. These changes give Traverse a more sporty appearance.
Changes to the interior included upgraded materials with soft-touch surfaces on the instrument panel that give it a higher-quality look and feel. The center control panel with a 6.5-inch color touchscreen and MyLink system was easy to use on our test Traverse. We paired our smartphone with the Bluetooth system to make hands-free calls.
Our test Traverse was the front-wheel drive 1LT featuring OnStar Directions and Connections with turn-by-turn navigation, a rearview camera, SiriusXM satellite and HD radio, ultrasonic rear park assist and remote start.
With a base price of $34,010, options included seven-passenger seating with second-row captain’s chairs and third-row split bench seat, a rear seat entertainment system with a screen that folds down from the roof, heated front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, and HomeLink remote. All these options brought the bottom line to $39,015 including destination.
All Traverse models are equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that uses direct injection technology and continuously variable valve timing teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This combo provided good performance and drivability during our week-long test driving on steep hills, freeways and a trip over the Vincent Thomas Bridge to Long Beach.
New options available for 2014 include sophisticated Forward Collisions Alert and Lane Departure Warning that use a camera and sensors to help determine when the driver is getting too close to a vehicle in front, or when the Traverse enters another lane without the use of a turn signal.
While our tester was fitted with optional second-row captain’s chairs, the standard three-passenger second-row bench seat brings seating capacity to eight, making Traverse a family shuttle that allows the kids to bring their friends along (unless you have a family of eight). The child-friendly second-row Smart Slide feature provides easy access to the third-row seats with one hand.
Traverse offers maximum cargo capacity of 116.3 cubic feet, which means there’s enough space to carry just about anything imaginable inside the vehicle. Even with all the seats in the upright position there’s still 24.4 cubic feet of space available.
After spending a week with the Traverse, it’s easy to see why Chevrolet has sold more than half a million of these midsize crossovers. It rivals a minivan in passenger and cargo functionality, there are lots of high-tech features available, it delivers responsive performance and is reasonably priced if you go easy on the options.
So while the Traverse name may not yet have the staying power of Silverado or Suburban, it won’t be long before it becomes one of Chevrolet’s golden nameplates as it attracts more repeat buyers and new customers to the brand.
[2014 Chevrolet Traverse press fleet vehicle provided by General Motors Co. Communications]
Story, photos and video ©2014 CarNichiWa