Around 15 years ago, I heard Chevrolet was planning to discontinue both its mini-van and mid-size SUVs and replace them with a new three-row crossover that fell in size between the Tahoe and Suburban. It seemed like a silly idea, and certainly not the precursor for a luxury car. Now in its second generation, and especially in High Country trim, the 2020 Chevy Traverse has become exactly that.
Elegant Sculpted Body
That first generation Traverse was a long tall station wagon, not straying far enough from its mini-van predecessor for some. Round Two beams in as a more formal two-box crossover that takes on styling cues from both the compact Equinox crossover and full-size Tahoe SUV. The front is dominated by a chromey version of Chevrolet’s twin-port grille flanked by LED headlamps. Elegant body sculpting includes fender bulges, sharp crease around the beltline, and accentuated chrome window trim. Roof rails, LED taillamps, 20-inch wheels, and Black Cherry Metallic paint add tinsel.
As my 6-year-old daughter climbed into her own second-row throne, she declared, “I like this car!” That’s mostly because, with the seat slid back, she couldn’t dream of scuffing the front seats with her feet. Her school’s play area seemingly has less space. She was pretty impressed with her own climate control, cupholders in the doors, and a third row seat that powers down for increased luggage capacity. Her seat was heated. Looking up, she saw twin moonroofs. Happy girl.
Her dads were pretty happy up front, too, riding in their heated and ventilated leather seats, gripping a leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjusting the tri-zone auto climate control, and cranking up the crisp 10-speaker Bose audio system. A power steering column, wireless device charging pad, and navigation add convenience. There’s nice stitched vinyl and suede on the dash and doors, but there’s also plenty of hard plastic that betrays the overall luxury ambience.
Devices connect easily with Bluetooth, 4G Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I’d prefer proper volume and tuning knobs instead of one knob and push buttons, but the 8-inch touchscreen was easy enough to use. Especially knowing my daughter was lounging in the back, a full array of safety systems lent peace. Forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot warning were a good start. Add to that a following distance indicator and rearview camera mirror.
Efficient V6 Power
Nestled between the sculpted front fenders is GM’s venerable 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 310 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission. There’s enough power to kick it down the road, though you can forget about racking BMW Ms. It will, however, tow 5,000 lbs. of trailer and achieve 17/25-MPG city/highway unloaded. You can’t turn off auto stop/start, so I hope you like it (I don’t).
Chevrolet may not have the most glamorous three-row crossover, but it is comfortable, handsome, and provides a serene ride on the highway. It is noticeably quiet, steering is tight, and the four-wheel independent suspension rumbles over rough pavement without disturbing offspring working their screens in the rear. I registered no complaints from the front seats either. If you’re going to take a long drive, there are far worse vehicles in which to do it.
Our High Country edition rides at the top of the Traverse hierarchy and comes with an appropriate price. You can snag a base Traverse for $30,995, but get all the luxury bling, and you’ll hand over $54,395 as tested. Competitors include the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Nissan Pathfinder.
2020 Chevy Traverse High Country
- Seven-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 3.6-liter V6, 9-spd trans
- Output: 310hp/266 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Style, Ride
- Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Lansing, MI
- Base/As-tested price: $30,995/$54,395