2013 Chevrolet Traverse Introduction

The Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover SUV able to haul a truckload of cargo or up to eight people. Built more like a car than a truck, Traverse uses front-wheel drive and is much lighter than a Tahoe. As a result, Traverse rides like a car, handles well and gets decent fuel economy for its size.

All-wheel drive is optional to improve stability on winter roads and, if only a by a bit, expand the range of surfaces the Traverse can traverse.

The 2013 Traverse gets new front and rear styling, updated infotainment systems and cabin materials, and on many versions offers a front-center airbag that keeps two front occupants from hitting each other in a side collision. Traverse was launched as an all-new model for the 2009 model year.

We found Traverse to be an excellent family vehicle. It is the modern station wagon.

Underway, Traverse feels more like a big sedan than a truck. It rides comfortably and is much more stable than truck-based SUVs, which tend to lean in corners and bound over undulations. The steering is direct and responsive, very light in effort, and the brakes are easy to modulate for nice smooth stops. Drivers moving out of a compact or midsize SUV will find it bulky when parking, while folks trading down from full-size truck-based SUVs will find Traverse surpassingly carlike and nimble. It can tow a bass boat but isn't equipped for heavy trailering.

Fuel economy for the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, and 16/23 with all-wheel drive. That's hardly stellar, but it has to be measured against the ability to traverse with six or seven of your friends without being seen in a van.

Power is provided by a 3.6-liter V6, specifically 281 horsepower with a single exhaust or 288 with dual exhaust. The V6 delivers strong horsepower though it does not have the torque of a V8. A smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic is standard.

Inside Traverse you'll find plenty of space, more than a Tahoe but less than a van, both of similar outside dimensions. Room in the first and second rows is plentiful, and the third row is bigger than most and is even plausible for adults. Cloth or leather, the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The second- and third-row seats fold flat to open up a generous cargo area. Even with all the seats up, there is enough room behind the third row for a week's worth of groceries, and an available power liftgate makes access easy.

The controls are easy to reach and operate. The rearview camera, which comes standard, makes backing this big vehicle up easier and safer. The dashboard is attractive, even if there's more obvious plastic inside than we'd like at this price point.

For more deluxe cabin surroundings, consider the Buick Enclave or GMC Acadia, which dress the same mechanical platform in fancier furnishings. Otherwise, the Traverse may be just your ticket for moving people and cargo. More stylish and thirsty than a minivan, more efficient than a truck-based SUV, it's kind of like a big family sedan with a glassed-in cargo bay in back. Now what did we used to call them?

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