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Despite the popularity of all things crossover these days, there is still a demand for large SUVs. The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse combines three rows of seating, good cargo capacity, and attractive styling to woo drivers who aren’t satisfied with smaller vehicles.
The Traverse gets a whole new look that doesn’t even try for the curvy, sedan-like styling found in crossovers. It’s big and bold with boxy angles that give it a tough demeanor and make it stand out. It’s offered in six trims including the new High Country, which adds a luxury-like version of the Traverse to the roster. It also has special exterior badging, D-Optic headlamps, and 20-inch polished wheels.
Inside, styling is attractive, especially in that High Country trim. It has brown leather with suede accents, logo-embossed headrests, and a power-fold third-row. Manually folding the third row is a bit of a stretch for those on the short side, making the power-fold seats a great feature.
Up front, seating is comfortable with good adjustability so shorter drivers won’t have a problem sitting high enough to see over the hood. What is a challenge, though, is getting the front seat belts to the right position — there is no way to adjust their height. If they sit too high or too low on your shoulder, then the only way to adjust where they hit is to find a new seating position altogether.
The second row is also comfortable with good access. The Traverse is not low to the ground, but it’s still not too high for the kids or less limber adults to easily enter. The third row is the least comfortable of the lot. It’s great for smaller kids, especially if they’re in car seats and won’t notice extra stiffness that adult passengers may find uncomfortable.
Third-row access is made easier thanks to the Enhanced Smart Slide seat in the second row. It slides forward without having to remove an empty forward-facing car seat. It’s easy to slide, too, so an adult can manage it with one hand and even larger kids can slide it themselves so they can climb into the back without waiting for help from their parents.
There’s room for up to eight passengers or an impressive amount of cargo. There’s 23 cubic feet behind the third row, 57.8 behind the second row, and 98.2 behind the first row. That gives the Chevrolet Traverse best-in-class cargo volume. There’s even an extra 3.2 cubic feet of underfloor storage and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity.
Power for the bulk of the lineup comes from a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The new RS trim goes for a sportier drive with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 with 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque paired to the same transmission.
We spent our drive time with a Traverse High Country equipped with the V6 engine, and it proved capable and did well accelerating from a stop. Demand power from the Traverse at speed, however, and it doesn’t respond quite as quickly. It takes a moment to downshift and deliver the power you need for highway passing in heavy traffic. Handling was good and the ride was notably smooth. A wrong turn sent us across a rutted, unpaved road, and the Traverse maintained its composure despite the rough surface.
There’s an impressive list of standard and available safety features, which is especially important in a car that often carries a family. Forward collision alert, front automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, LED daytime running lamps, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, rear vision camera, rear camera monitor, and rear seat reminder are all available features.
Starting price on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is $30,875 with the High Country coming in at $52,995, so there is a heavy premium for the highest trim.
Nicole Wakelin is a contributor to BestRide.com and CarGurus.com; she can be reached on Twitter @NicoleWakelin.