NAIAS 2017: Chevrolet Just Trucked-up the Traverse, Finally Giving It a Shape

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Chevrolet’s current Traverse is an amorphous blob of rounded sheet metal. While not offensively homely, it lacks a distinctive silhouette or any purposeful styling. A layperson could be forgiven for confusing the globule with a minivan. However, with the Lambda platform being replaced by the C1XX, General Motors seized an opportunity to enhance the 2018 Traverse’s angles and make it more of a traditional-looking SUV — resulting in a more handsome and eerily truck-like crossover.

Undiminished in size, Chevrolet claims the squared-off CUV now provides more headroom and legroom for occupants in its second and third rows. Despite a wheelbase that’s two inches longer than its precursor, rear cargo space has been reduced to 23 cubic feet. That’s still enough to beat Ford’s Explorer, and the hold climbs to 98.5 cubic feet with all of the rear seats laid flat. Seven- and eight-passenger seating configurations will be offered on the new Traverse. More affordable versions will be equipped with benches for the second and third rows, while fancier editions will see that middle area replaced with two captain’s chairs.

GM is also offering the 2018 in two new trim levels — the debatably sporty RS and the suede-enhanced High Country.

The purportedly “sporting” RS version of the Traverse comes with a mandatory 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and front-wheel drive. At 255 horses, it’s actually down on the base 3.6-liter V6 in terms of peak power, although it does offer superior fuel economy and slightly better torque (295 ft-lb).

Assuming that fuel economy isn’t your primary concern, the V6’s 305 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque seems to be a fine choice. That is doubly true if you plan on hauling anything, as Chevrolet suggests that the 3.6 liter should also be capable of a 5,000-pound towing capacity, making no mention of the turbo’s pulling might.

Compared to the previous generation, the Traverse has lost over 350 pounds, helping to improve fuel economy. Chevrolet estimates that FWD 3.6-liter V6 models will earn a 18/25 mpg city/highway rating, while the 2.0-liter four should yield 20/23 mpg. Regardless of the chosen motor, GM has given Traverse its Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed automatic transmission.

While the RS’s black trim, big rims, and lackluster engine makes for an athletic appearance, the High Country trim is more like the genuine article. Offered as a luxury trim on other GM vehicles, the Traverse High Country will come with a unique leather interior, suede seats, D-Optic headlamps, all-wheel drive, electric-folding third row seating, and 20-inch polished wheels. It will also come with most of the available features, including Apple CarPlay, GM’s rear-seat reminder, 360-degree camera, Android Audio, hands-free liftgate, adaptive cruise control, and automated emergency breaking.

Chevrolet has not yet shared pricing, but considering where the Silverado High Country sits against the LTZ, as well as the 2017 Traverse Premiere’s $42,045 starting price, it wouldn’t be impossible to see the most lavishly equipped 2018s going for almost $50,000. Expect the lower L, LS, and LT trims to exist within the $30,000 and $40,000 range. However, General Motors should release specific pricing details and a sales date later this year.

[Images: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • OldManPants OldManPants on Jan 10, 2017

    Think I've now seen every available online photo of this. Phuc! It's gorgeous!

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jan 10, 2017

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned the lettering down the side of the front doors. It's a bit much, placed quite high on the door, and spanning 50% of the width of it. Other than that, the styling is a huge improvement. I always thought the original Traverse looked pretty awful with the huge expanse of metal at the back, and the revised version was only slightly better.

  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
  • Akear The only CEO who can save Boeing, GM, and Ford is Alan Mulally. Mulally is largely credited with saving both Boeing and Ford. The other alternative is to follow a failed Jack Welch business model. We have all witnessed what Jack Welch did to GE, and what happened to Boeing when it was taken over by GE-trained businessmen. Below is an interesting article on how Jack Welch indirectly ruined Boeing.
  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
  • THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
  • ToolGuy This kind of thing might be interesting in a racing simulator.