2013 Chevrolet Traverse AWD 2LT

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Bottom Line:  The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is a spacious 7-passenger CUV, easy-to-live-with, and has one of the cushiest rides in its class.  When fully loaded, the 281 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 engine has to work hard.  It has a handsome exterior, but interior HVAC and audio controls are a bit fiddly.  It’s more utilitarian than sporty and will especially appeal to Big Three automaker loyalists.

The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is the corporate ‘twin’ to the GMC Acadia we tested a few years ago.  The Acadia blew my socks off.  When it was launched in Canada in 2007, I said it was probably the best vehicle in GM’s lineup at that time.  I asked our son Chris and his friend Joe, both hardcore automotive Eurosnobs, to sit in the top-of-the-line Acadia that had a rich, burgundy leather interior, and critique the interior’s design, fit and finish.

“What did you think of the Acadia’s interior?”, I asked.

“Dad, we couldn’t find a single thing to criticize”, Chris reported.

With that impressive launch, I was expecting similar good things with the Traverse.

Driving the Traverse is initially imposing.  This is a full-size CUV.  205-in. long, it’s 3-in. longer than the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon, but about 900 lbs. lighter.

As a people hauler, the Traverse shines.  Front and second row seating is spacious, and most importantly, the third row is roomy enough for adults and it’s easy to access.   There is a glitch – oddly, Chevy neglected to spec a grab handle assist for exiting the third row.

Other “misses”:  The vehicle drives ‘big’, the 3.6-litre V6 feels like it’s working hard when loaded with seven adults, there’s no warning light to show when the headlights are turned on, the audio system not intuitive, and the touch-sensitive controls on the centrestack don’t work well when wearing gloves, and braking requires a firm foot.

Third row is easy to access and spacious enough for adults.  But where's the passenger assist grab handle?

Third row is easy to access and spacious enough for adults. But where’s the passenger assist grab handle?

Hits:  The Traverse has one of the most compliant rides in its class, third row is easy to access and spacious enough for adults, has a power liftgate.

The Traverse will appeal to people who like GM’s traditional styling, versus Ford’s ‘hip’ (but polarizing) California custom surf wagon-inspired style of the Flex.  For more power, check out the 355 horsepower twin-turbo Eco-Boost V6 Flex.  For ‘drivers’, the Mazda CX-9 is the affordable sporty CUV of choice.

The Specs

2013 Chevrolet Traverse AWD 2LT

Type of vehicle:  7-passenger full size crossover utility vehicle with full-time all-wheel-drive

Engine: 3.6-litre direct injection V6

Power: 281 horsepower at 6,300 r.p.m; 266 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 r.p.m.

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Brakes: Front ventilated disc brakes, rear disc brakes. ABS with brake assist, electronic brake force distribution (EBD)

Tires: 255/65R18 (winter), temporary spare

Price: $43,125;  As-tested:  $49,215 (includes options $4,590, destination charge $1,500)

Transport Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.0 city, 8.6 highway (regular unleaded)

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