For 2018, the redesigned Chevy Traverse loses weight and gains power, passenger space and technology, along with a new luxury-level top trim. In this case, the big numbers are almost 400 less pounds to cart around and an extra 3 inches of legroom for the second-row passengers. Third-row legroom has also increased, offering more than the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. You'll be hard-pressed to find more passenger room without stepping up to a full-size SUV.
On paper, that extra passenger space comes at a price: The Traverse loses almost 18 cubic feet of maximum cargo space. But it still offers a generous 98.5 cubic feet (with the second and third rows folded down). Interestingly, the exterior dimensions of this year's Traverse have grown a bit, but its traditional GMC fraternal twin, the Acadia, actually shrunk for its 2017 redesign. This marks the first time the two vehicles are sized differently.
This lighter Traverse carries over the same V6 from the last generation, but it gains 20 horsepower to make a total of 305 hp and is paired with a new nine-speed transmission. This pairing, along with some aerodynamic tweaks, improves fuel economy by about 3 mpg to a maximum of 21 mpg combined (18 city/27 highway). There's also a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but it's only available on the sport-styled RS trim.
A bigger 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and OnStar (with a 4G connection and Wi-Fi) are standard across the range. Chevy's Teen Driver system — which lets you track the car, receive notifications if it's in an accident, and set limits on things such as stereo volume — is standard equipment in the new model. Safety features such as blind-spot monitoring are available across more of the range now, and adaptive cruise control comes to the Traverse, although only to the top High Country trim.
Speaking of the High Country: Chevy is expanding the Traverse range to push up against near-luxury offerings. This new, leather-draped trim features LED headlights as well as all of Chevy's available driver aids and safety tech. There's also a special all-wheel-drive system designed to improve traction and control both on- and off-road compared to the other trim levels' optional AWD systems. Unfortunately, adaptive cruise and related safety features, such as forward collision alert with automatic braking, are limited to the top two trims.
That extended range of trims means the Traverse isn't just taking on traditional competitors such as the versatile Honda Pilot, fun Mazda CX-9 or practical Toyota Highlander. A 2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country is priced above the top trims of most direct competitors and the entry-level trims for luxury SUVs, such as the sporty Acura MDX, classy Volvo XC90 or very German Audi Q7.
Still, whether Chevy can play with the heavy hitters of the luxury class won't be relevant to most buyers. The midlevel trims offer a competitive list of features and lots of passenger space all wrapped up in an appealing package. We'll have a better idea of just how the new Traverse stacks up once we get our hands on one, but based on what we know so far, this looks like a strong entry in the three-row crossover category.
The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse boasts seven trim levels: L, LS, LT Cloth, LT Leather, RS, Premier and High Country. These trims run the gamut from reasonably well-equipped to luxury SUV competitor. Most of these trim levels are equipped with a V6, but the sport-styled RS trim is unique in that it comes with a torquey turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The standard engine for the Traverse is 3.6-liter V6 (305 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque) paired with Chevy's new nine-speed automatic transmission. Most trims can be had in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configuration.
While it may be the base model, the Traverse L comes respectably equipped with LED running lights, xenon headlights, heated mirrors, 18-inch wheels and engine stop-start. Inside, you get cloth upholstery, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, seating for eight, a rearview camera, OnStar communications (with a 4G LTE connection and onboard Wi-Fi hotspot), Chevy's Teen Driver system, and a 7-inch MyLink touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
The L is only available in front-wheel drive and doesn't have access to most optional extras. It's a build-to-order trim, so you're unlikely to ever even see a Traverse L on a dealer lot.
Functionally, the LS trim will be the base trim you'll likely come across. The LS has the same equipment as the L, but can be had with all-wheel drive and a few optional extras, such as second-row tablet mounts with dedicated USB charging ports and a cargo management package.
Stepping up to the LT Cloth gets you second-row captain's chairs in place of a bench, reducing seating capacity to seven but improving accessibility and comfort. The LT Cloth also gets roof rails, mirror-integrated turn signals and a power-adjustable driver seat.
Two notable options packages are available for the FWD Traverse Cloth. The Convenience and Driver Confidence package adds rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a power liftgate, remote engine start, an upgraded 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, a color driver information display, and heated front seats. It also includes some active safety features: blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. The Trailering package adds a trailer hitch and heavy-duty cooling system. Note that optioning the LT Cloth with all-wheel drive gets you the Convenience and Driver Confidence package standard.
The LT Leather, in either front- or all-wheel drive, gets the Convenience and Driver Confidence package and adds navigation functionality to the MyLink system. It also gets some luxury upgrades. These start, as you might expect, with leather upholstery and continue with a 10-speaker Bose sound system, a 120-volt power outlet, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a built-in rearview camera display, a top-down parking camera system, and a power-adjustable passenger seat. A panoramic sunroof is available as a stand-alone upgrade.
The RS trim receives a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (255 hp, 295 lb-ft of torque) and is only available in front-wheel drive. It is equipped much the same as the LT Leather, but with unique styling cues and accents.
Near the top of the range, the Premier trim adds LED headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, hands-free operation for the liftgate, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power-adjustable steering column, and driver-seat memory settings.
Major packages for the Premier include the Driver Confidence II package, which adds forward collision alert with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic braking as well as lane departure warning and intervention. There's also the Redline Edition package, an appearance package that blacks out all the chrome trim and adds the panoramic sunroof. Adding all-wheel drive to the Premier trim gets you the Driver Confidence II package, Trailering package and adaptive headlights.
The range-topping High Country comes with all the Premier's goodies and adds a special all-wheel-drive system with an auto-locking rear differential, along with automatic high beams, the panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, a power-folding third-row seat, and unique interior leather upholstery. It can only be had with all-wheel drive.