The midsize crossover SUV segment features many vehicles to choose from, especially among the family-friendly 3-row variety. The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is all-new this year and brings fresh styling a plenty of features to take on rivals like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder. Micah Muzio shows us what Chevy has to offer in this entry that offers full-size utility on a midsize platform.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse Review Transcript

The second generation Chevrolet Traverse is a three row midsize SUV that we really like. Propelling our positive vibes is a deeply functional interior. Let's start somewhere boring: door storage. The front rear doors are loaded with bins and nooks galore though I'm not quite sure what defines a bin versus a nook. Beyond the aforementioned door nooks, smaller items can be stowed in the sizeable center console in this spot below the second row climate controls or in a handy USB adjacent bin beneath the center stack.

Aside from slight pressure in the upper back region, the front seats are superbly comfortable and as the driver you'll enjoy a highly customizable driving position supported by well-placed arm rests. Drive like a maniac and you'll wish for more lateral support.  Headroom is unsurprisingly excellent up front but that excellence extends rearward as well.  Tim is six-foot-something and look, his head is not mashed against the headliner.  Nobody cares, also he's British and too polite to complain about legroom so I'm going to proactively slide and angle my seats slightly forward. Thank you. Sorry I was uncomfortable. It's fine.

With less diplomatic occupants, rear-seat nice space could be tight but as consolation third row dwellers are gifted a wealth of cupholders decent foot space under the second row and two USB outlets. On that note the Traverse  comes with USB ports in all three rows that plus an optional three prong outlet  means well-charged devices ensuring your family never has to, you know, speak.

Where material quality is concerned the Traverse leaves room for its Buick Enclave sibling to fancy things up. Even so GM's mainstream offering incorporates some soft materials and in many places uses a soft coating to spruce up hard plastics. In other places it doesn't.

With the second and third row stowed, Traverse owners have a substantial ninety 98.2 cubic feet to fill. Raise those seats and 23 cubic feet of dedicated cargo space remains, supplemented by an additional 3.2 cubic foot underfloor storage hold.

While prattling on about the Traverse’s many fine qualities we should reserve time to talk about how it drives. And how it drives is lovely.  The suspension skillfully absorbs bumps while keeping the chassis in check when cornering. When you pick up the pace, interior noise is mostly quashed except for some whistling in this region, which you would hear if I didn't have to stop for that stoplight the man says I have to stop for. 

Providing propulsion is a mighty 3.6-liter V6 that tows up to 5,000 pounds and moves the Traverse with real authority. When asked, maybe more impressive is the standard 9-speed automatic. It's a shining star of a transmission that delivers virtually seamless transparent shifts and when you introduce the accelerator to the carpet, acceleration and downshifts occur without delay.

For its size the Traverse is fairly efficient aided by an inconspicuous but undefeatable automatic engine start/stop system that saves fuel when the vehicle is motionless. If you don't mind giving up a few mpg the optional all-wheel drive system adds traction in slippery conditions. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also available but only in the sporty Traverse RS producing less horsepower more torque and better city fuel economy than the V6.

The real trick with a relatively large SUV is to hide its girth. The Traverse does just that with light and easy steering and a tight turning circle that make it a confident parking tool. On the flipside, visibility over your right shoulder is terrible especially since depending on where the seats are, the right second row headrest completely blocks the side window. In my experience if you can see what's in the adjacent lane, lane-changes are less stressful. Helping address those visibility concerns, our higher trim features blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear (but not front) parking sensors.

Rounding out the option roster are indulgences like wireless phone charging, a hands-free tailgate heated and ventilated front seats, leather and a heated steering wheel. Choose the fancy High Country trim with its power folding seats and traction enhancing dual clutch rear differential and you can spend nearly $53,000. It's worth mentioning that adaptive cruise control is only offered on the High Country trim while many competitive SUVs offer similar technology at a lower price point. If you need eight seats you're stuck with the low end L and LS trims as higher Traverse trims only come with seven.

In basic not quite $31,000 form, the Traverse comes surprisingly well-equipped with keyless entry and  push-button start, 3-zone automatic climate control, a wide-angle backup camera, a smart-slide second row seat for easy third row access and seven airbags including a center airbag that deploys from the inboard side of the driver's seat. The standard infotainment system is a 7-inch unit featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but buyers can also upgrade to an 8-inch system with a lockable storage area behind the screen hiding the Traverse’s elusive seventh USB port. Either way the screen is decently sized, placed within reach and the menus are a cinch to navigate.

While shopping 3-row midsize SUVs it's always smart to investigate the alternatives some standouts, include the roomy VW Atlas, the practical Toyota Highlander the thoughtfully-crafted Honda Pilot and the strong-selling Ford Explorer. Pleasant to drive and competitively-priced with lots of cargo  space and room for up to eight passengers, the Chevrolet Traverse is fantastically  suited for family duty despite some formidable competition. The Traverse is a  midsize SUV that deserves your attention. 

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