The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse has received a modest recasting for the new season, netting a bit more focused style and comfort along with enhanced connectivity. It also becomes the first vehicle in the market to boast an innovative front-center air bag. We had a chance to check out a loaded front-drive version of the 2013 Traverse in range-topping LTZ trim over the holidays. Previous experience with this well-rounded crossover SUV had our expectations running high and the latest iteration didn't disappoint. It's become an even more attractive people and cargo mover while maintaining its decidedly car-like character.
Visually, the most notable changes to the 2013 Traverse are found on its fascias. Up front, that tasteful redo brings more interesting details that impart a fresher overall look. Restyled headlamps and running lights set off with a bit more chrome accenting frame the latest take on Chevy's signature dual-port grille treatment where expanded bright-mesh inserts have been swapped for a new horizontal bar configuration more closely resembling those found on the division's passenger cars. The Traverse's tail gets a corresponding tweak, now boasting Camaro-flavored taillamps and a revised liftgate, also embellished with a chrome accent of its own.
Inside, improved fits and finishes are complemented with more soft touch surfaces that collectively make the 2013 Traverse's quiet and well-isolated inner sanctum even more inviting, whether you're heading cross town or cross country. In addition to the industry-first front center air bag that adds an extra measure of protection for the driver and passenger in the case of a severe side-impact collision, the 2013 Traverse now offers Chevrolet MyLink telematics, with or without new Color Touch Navigation and Navigation/Audio systems. All can be controlled via voice command or 6.5-inch touch screen as well a multifunction buttons on the steering wheel.
Standard three-row seating enables the Traverse to carry up to eight passengers, although the extensive roster of standards on our leather-lined, range-topping LTZ included standard second-row Captain's Chairs that trim the total to seven. With all three tiers of seats up, the Traverse can still carry a respectable 24.4 cu ft of cargo and in max-carting mode that number swells to an impressive 116.3 cu ft. While no match for the full-size Suburban, both of those stats handily exceed their comparative dimensions in the Tahoe. A large rear hatch - power activated on the LT2 and LTZ - further facilitates the actual loading/unloading process.
All Traverse models share a single powertrain combo that matches GM's sophisticated 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission that's been reprogrammed to deliver even better shift feel. The engine still develops 281 horsepower in base LS/1LT2LT guise but 288 with the dual exhaust system in the LTZ and drinks regular unleaded in either case. Although its more-than-respectable 5,200-lb tow rating is a far cry from the Tahoe's 8,500 lb max figure, the Traverse does return 17/24 mpg on the EPA city/highway cycle in front-drive configuration and 16/23 mpg in AWD guise compared to the Tahoe's 15/21 mpg averages.
Out on the road, the Traverse showed why it will likely become an even more formidable force in a highly competitive segment that includes rivals like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Although the Traverse still won't be mistaken for a sports car of any stripe, it does gain a bit more composure and confidence courtesy of subtle chassis revisions that include new rebound springs in the front struts and re-valved shock absorbers. That 1-2 punch further reduces body roll in corners and provides a smoother ride at low speeds. Our Traverse also benefitted from the fitment of the optional 20-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 255/55 all-season tires in place of the 18-inch alloys with 255/65 alternatives that are standard on the LTZ.
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse lineup opens at $31,165 for an LS model, a figure slightly above the entry-point players of its three most prominent foes. That number pops to $41,250 for a front-drive LTZ variant, while Color Touch Navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, towing package and Crystal Red tintcoat bumped the bottom line on our test vehicle to $44,410.