published Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Test Drive: Chevy Traverse carries seven in style

The redesigned Chevrolet Traverse features a powerful, direct-injection six-cylinder engine and plenty of creature comforts. 
Staff photo by Mark Kennedy
The redesigned Chevrolet Traverse features a powerful, direct-injection six-cylinder engine and plenty of creature comforts. Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

FAST FACTS

Model: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

Exterior color: White Diamond Tricoat

Interior color: Mojave

Engine: 3.6 liter, six-cylinder

Horsepower: 281

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 24 mpg highway, 17 mpg city

Dealer: Integrity Chevrolet

Price (as tested): $46,210

When Chevrolet set out to redesign its seven-passenger crossover SUV, it clearly had a few specific improvements in mind: more interior refinement, a library-quiet cabin and first-class (not coach) third-row leg room.

As a result, the refreshed 2013 Traverse is a more satisfying SUV than its predecessor, and a stylish alternative to more pedestrian mini-vans.

We hitched a ride in a luminescent White Diamond Tricoat Traverse from Integrity Chevrolet last week. Wayne Tubbs, sales manager, said the Traverse and other new GM models are leading to a surge in Chevy sales locally.

"It [the Traverse] has all the looks people expect, and a lot more luxury than before," Tubbs said.

STYLING AND FEATURES

Handsome is the word that comes to mind to describe the Traverse, which has sold more than 400,000 units since its debut in 2009. The similar GMC Acadia has more masculine styling cues, Tubbs said, noting that the Traverse is a favorite among the wives of the car store's management.

The Traverse features a distinctive face, with chrome upper and lower grilles. A familiar Chevrolet bowtie badge is the centerpiece. Unlike many of today's SUVs with down-sloping designs, the rear third of the Traverse gets a visual lift from the upward curvature of its window trim. Body bulges above the rear wheels also hollow out more space for third-row occupants.

Inside, the Traverse is spacious with plenty of room for seven passengers. Second-row captain seats offer a prime view of a flip-down, factory-installed DVD system (a $1,445 option), which also includes rear-seat controls. A front sun-roof and second-row "sky-light" are bundled together as a $1,400 package.

Interior upgrades this year include more luxurious soft-touch dash and door materials and stitched leather seating surfaces (standard in LTZ trim). Leg-, shoulder- and head-room are more than ample for all passengers. Second-row seats slide forward and back to adjust third-row knee room. Our only nitpick with the interior is that oversized A-pillars somewhat obscure the forward view. Otherwise comfort and visibility are first-rate.

A navigation system, supported by a 6.5-inch touch screen, is a $795 option.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

GM has equipped the 2013 Traverse with more sound-deadening materials and acoustic window glass. The result is one of the quietest SUVs we've ever driven.

The Traverse is powered by GM's venerable 3.6 liter, V-6 engine, which features direct fuel injection. As a result, throttle response is instantaneous and the 281-horsepower engine turns in a 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds, according to Car and Driver magazine.

This is the same engine that comes standard in many of GM's big Cadillacs, and it comes with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that transfers to a new owner if you sell the vehicle.

On our test drive along Highway 153 and Amnicola Highway, the Traverse showed off its good manners. It was also stable in 30 mph March wind gusts.

BOTTOM LINE

A base Traverse starts at $31,335. Our highly-optioned LTZ version carried a sticker price of $46,210. All-wheel drive is available for about $2,000 more. Estimated gas mileage is 24 mpg highway and 17 miles per gallon city. If space, comfort and power are on your new-vehicle checklist, the Traverse has you covered.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is a Times Free Press columnist and editor. He writes the "LIfe Stories" human interest column for the City section and the "Family Life" column for the Life section. He also writes an automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for ...

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