The heyday of the minivan is (sadly) behind us, and the days of the sedan appear to be increasingly numbered. Consumers pine for that mystical, Venn diagram overlap between truck-like prowess and minivan-like practicality. To this end, automotive manufacturers have given us a sea of SUVs, CUVs, compact cross-overs, and third-row behemoths. How then does a vehicle like the 2019 Chevrolet Traverse distinguish itself amongst so much sameness?
An excellent representation of the class, the Traverse proves that the goal of an attractive yet uncompromisingly utilitarian vehicle is no lost cause. You’ve heard of chocolate and peanut butter? Puppies and rainbows? The Traverse is their automotive equivalent, a vehicle that oozes competency without sacrificing style or attitude.
Redesigned in 2018, the Chevy Traverse is decidedly less van-like in appearance than in prior years while retaining its family hauler character and on-road capability both inside and out. The 2019 Traverse provides some of the best room for both passengers and cargo available in its class, offering an exceedingly smooth and quiet ride, while still being capable of hauling (up to 5000lbs) and venturing off-road.
The Traverse is now only available with its 3.6liter V6 engine (310hp). The turbo 2.0liter 4-cylinder that was an option on the RS trim was discontinued halfway through the 2019 model year; though, if your heart was really set on it, dealers may still have a few left on their lots so all hope is not lost. While we tested the V6, rumor has it that the 4-cylinder only added a bit of boost to an already torquey low end, hence it’s discontinuation. Currently, the V6 is paired to a 9-speed automatic which we found to be particularly smooth in shifting. Towing capacity is rated up to 5000lbs.
All trim levels, excepting the top-of-the-line High Country, feature front-wheel drive options. The opposite is true of the AWD option, which is unavailable on the base L trim.
|LT Cloth + LT Leather||X||X|
The gain in mpg with the FWD was nominal, moving the needle from 17/25 (AWD) to 18/27 (FWD).
One of the key benefits in choosing the SUV over is jump in capability over a minivan or station wagon. While handling has its trade-offs between the two, few minivans are going to hold a candle to the Traverse in a straight line, as a nice amount of pop translates to a respectable 0-60 time of roughly 7 seconds. Head-to-head with its high-end segment competition the Traverse might falter, but then again you’re far more likely to be passing semis than BMWs with this thing anyway.
As to that handling, the Traverse doesn’t quite let you forget that you’re in an SUV as you round corners. The suspension cushions road imperfections quite well but still allows for some noticeable body roll on curves. Steering was accurate and responsive with only a hint of oversteer. The Traverse feels and performs at its best in a straight line, perfectly in keeping with its segment.
The Traverse puts the emphasis on the utility for this Sport Utility Vehicle. If your entry into this segment stems from practical necessity the Traverse will tick a lot of boxes for you. The towing capacity of 5000 lbs, available with Chevy’s Trailing Package, is right in line with segment standards. But our biggest attraction comes from the excess of cargo space, 23 sq.ft. with the third row up and a whopping 98 sq. ft. with the second and third rows down. Even with all the seats occupied, the Traverse provides an additional rear storage in the form of a cubby below the floor (and above the spare tire).
The exterior of the Traverse looks to have gotten the bulk of the aesthetic consideration during the 2018 redesign. Its lines have become more rugged, square-jawed in appearance; a distinct departure from the smooth, sloping qualities of the 2017 incarnation.
The look and materials used inside the cabin are pretty average, noticeably below those of higher end competitors. However, with the range of trims available ($23,000 from bottom to top), including the jump to leather seating, there’s plenty of room for upgrades.
Again, one of our favorite features of the Traverse is its copious cabin space. Visibility is good out of the front, head and leg room are plentiful all the way into the third row, and the option of either the captain’s chairs or a bench for third-row seating means you can customize your arrangements accordingly.
Up front the center console is deep, and the infotainment screen elevates to reveal yet more storage. The rear seats are not so lucky, there’s a noticeable deficit of cup holders in back and fewer cubbies than we would have liked to see.
One of the highlights of the Traverse is its smooth and quiet ride. The suspension deals with undulations and imperfections with equal aplomb. The peace you’ll experience in the Traverse is enhanced still further by its SUV ride height. Floating high above the pavement you’ll remain largely undisturbed by road or engine noise.
The 2019 Traverse comes in seven different trim levels, each adding both amenities and desirable safety features.
Moving up from the L to the LS you get the AWD feature and some trim add-ons. From there we have the LT which comes in cloth or leather. Seating, however, isn’t the only distinction here. The LT leather comes with power front seats as well as the LT cloth’s 8-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, remote start, power liftgate. Additionally, you can get rear and cross traffic alert system, blind spot monitoring as part of Chevy’s Convenience and Driver Confidence package for $1,795.
The RS had been home of the Traverse’s turbocharged 2.0 Liter 4-cylinder until its (probably justified) euthanizing. Although, you can still get the extra RS trim accouterments, including a 10-speaker BOSE audio system.
The Premier trim adds ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, a hands-free power liftgate, and a heated steering wheel. Rear seat entertainment systems can also be added. From here you can also get the Driver Confidence II package for $495 which includes lane departure, lane assist, and front pedestrian breaking.
The High Country trim includes all the bells and whistles. You get AWD, now with an auto locking rear differential, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and leather exclusive to the High Country trim, swanky indeed.
The real stand out feature was the Mylink infotainment system which is laid out in such a straightforward and intuitive fashion that we wish the rest of OEM crowd would take the Traverse for a spin and see how a proper UI is done. The menu layout is simple and easily navigated and syncing with your device (Apple or Android) is a cinch.
What you end up paying for your Traverse can range widely. The difference between the base L trim and the High Country is over $22,000. So there’s a lot of room to play, and, as seen above, a lot to add or subtract based on what you’re looking for.
We recommend the LT Cloth as a solid compromise between price and desirable features. For around $35,000 you’ll be covered for most of the current “must haves.” Though it’s worth considering the Convenience and Driver Confidence package for its added safety features.
This positions the Traverse squarely in the middle of the mid-size SUVs, but with a slightly lower base price and a higher top end.
|Mazda CX-9||$32,280 – $45,365|
|Chevrolet Traverse||$29,930 – $53,200|
|Subaru Ascent||$31,995 – $44,695|
|Kia Telluride||$31,690 – $43,490|
The Traverse does a respectable job at covering all the bases. It can tow and haul in keeping with its class and comfortably accommodate 7 passengers (even 8 with the second-row bench seat). Its combination of practicality and refreshed styling keep it near the head of the pack.
While the interior and acceleration may not stack up against the higher end competition, you won’t be whacked over the head by your monthly payment on a Traverse either (that is unless you’ve set your sights on the High Country and at that point you might as consider the Audi Q7 or BMW X5).
To get everything you want in life, and sometimes in a vehicle, you’ll need to compromise. But, in the case of the Traverse you’re not giving much up. While it won’t drive like a car or haul like a truck, it can haul more than a car and drive more fluidly than a truck. And after all that’s really what every red-blooded American is searching for, the best of both worlds.