The 2019 Chevrolet Traverse mid-size three-row crossover SUV focuses firmly on family tasks and travels. Seating up to eight, the Traverse debuted for 2009, and shifted to a boldly-styled second generation for the 2018 model year. The current model is indebted to Chevrolet’s truck division for much of its appearance.
Not much has changed for the 2019 model year. A new LT Premium package, standard on RS and available for LT Leather trim, includes a surround-view camera system, a camera-based rearview mirror, 20-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen for navigation and audio, Bose speakers, and a 110-volt outlet. A heated steering wheel is newly standard on Premier and High Country models. Chevrolet has added an all-wheel-drive RS model with V-6 power. A turbo-4 version remains available, only with front-drive.
As before, L, LS, LT (Cloth or Leather), RS, Premier, and High Country trim levels are offered.
Stout and sturdy, Chevolet’s 3.6-liter V-6 develops 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. A smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic is the sole transmission, but it ranks among the better units.
Front-wheel drive is standard. Part-time all-wheel drive is available for LS, LT, and Premier trim levels. A twin-clutch AWD system, with automatic-locking rear differential, is standard on High Country models.
Safety technology is costly, and largely limited to top trim levels.
Federal testers rate the 2019 Traverse fairly well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Traverse five-star ratings overall and for side-impact, but only four stars for frontal testing and rollover protection. (The latter is a calculated figure, with four stars common for crossovers and SUVs.)
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested a Traverse in its current form.
Standard equipment includes what’s expected on family-focused crossovers, but not much more. All models include a rearview camera. Available on top Premier versions and standard on the High Country are automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.
Outward vision is good for such a large crossover. Parking sensors would be prudent for maneuvering into tight spots.
Though handsome enough, cabins emphasize durability over design. Top trim levels may be trimmed in leather, but the Traverse trails Buick’s Enclave for premium looks and features.
Several appearance packages are available for LT models. So is a comfort/convenience option group that upgrades to an 8.0-inch display screen, adding heated front seats, a power liftgate, blind-spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors.
Prices do not include $995 destination charge.
L V-6 ($29,930), offered only with front-drive, includes a V-6 engine, rearview camera, seating for eight, cloth upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
LS V-6 ($32,800 with front-drive, $34,800 all-wheel drive) adds deep-tinted glass.
LT Cloth V-6 ($35,300 with front-drive, $39,100 all-wheel drive) gets upgraded cloth seat upholstery, a power driver’s seat, second-row captain’s chairs, heated power mirrors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Options include 20-inch wheels and blind-spot monitoring.
LT Leather V-6 ($39,000 with front-drive, $41,000 all-wheel drive) substitutes leather seat upholstery and includes a power liftgate, blind-spot monitors, and heated front seats.
RS Turbocharged I4 ($42,900 with front-drive, $45,500 all-wheel drive) is equipped with the turbo 4-cylinder engine, along with blacked-out exterior accents and 20-inch wheels.
RS V-6 AWD (Price N/A) is similar to RS Turbo, but with 3.6-liter engine and all-wheel drive.
Premier V-6 ($45,300) with front-drive, $48,200 all-wheel drive) gets 20-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, hands-free power liftgate, 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, wireless charging, navigation, and Bose audio.
High Country V-6 AWD ($53,000) adds twin-clutch all-wheel drive, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warnings, a power-folding third row, polished 20-inch wheels, and adaptive cruise control.
Despite adoption of design themes from Chevrolet’s truck division as part of its 2018 redesign, the current-generation Traverse looks sharp while providing a family-focused experience. Relationships to full-size pickups and SUVs aren’t difficult to spot. Previously graceful body lines have been sharpened.
More upright than the previous-generation model, the Traverse leads off with a taller grille, encompassing a larger “bowtie” badge. Strong shoulder lines lead toward slender taillights, carrying the overall boxy profile all the way through the bodysides.
Bountiful cabin space is a strong point of the Traverse, which promises adult-level comfort in any of the three seating rows. Even the third row offers abundant room, though elbow room is on the scant side.
Smart controls and a wide console should impress the driver, and everybody might admire the soft-touch surfaces and durable plastic materials.
Front seats promise long-distance comfort, even for occupants who are ample in girth. Second-row captain’s chairs are particularly appealing. Second-row passengers face more than 38 inches of leg clearance, while rear-seat riders get 33 inches.
Wide-swinging doors ease entry and exit, though they can present a challenge in tight parking lots. Fit and finish generally are good, though Buick’s Enclave has a more premium feel. Most Traverse versions have active noise cancellation.
Behind the third row, there’s a generous 23 cubic feet of cargo room. With the third row flattened, that space passes 58 cubic feet, reaching 98 cubic feet with only the front seatbacks upright.
Abundant power from the sizable V-6 engine enhances the pleasure of piloting a Traverse, assisted by a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. Upshifts arrive rapidly, and the 9-speed downshifts readily when extra oomph is needed to pass or merge.
Well-known in other GM models, the 3.6-liter V-6 delivers ample energy through a broad range of the engine’s powerband, which boosts performance potential. Making a V-6 version of the RS available suggests the eventual demise of turbo-4 power.
One prominent drawback is the optional all-wheel-drive system, which functions too much like an AWD setup from the past.
Like other large family carriers, the Traverse tends to steer and handle like a big family sedan, with pitching motions and lean in corners. However, the Traverse tracks well on the highway.
Fuel economy falls close to the norm for its class. With V-6 and all-wheel drive, the Traverse is EPA-rated at 17/25 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. Front-wheel-drive raises the estimate to 18/27/21 mpg. The turbo-four manages 20/26/22 mpg.
Aiming strictly at families, including large ones, the Traverse is nicely equipped, at least in LT trim and above, though lack of automatic emergency braking earns a demerit. Base L models are seldom seen at dealerships. Topping the lineup, High Country editions push this model beyond the mainstream, but at a price. Options abound, but they push total cost upward in a hurry.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.