The large SUV shrinking and softening into a smaller, more efficient CUV is a story that the automotive industry has become quite used to telling. Chevrolet goes against that grain with the all-new 2018 Traverse. The second-generation mid-size SUV doesn't actually grow by all that many inches, but it features a stronger, squarer look that trickles down from Chevy's full-size SUV lineup. It's a more proper SUV with old-school attitude and a bit more space to stretch out.
We've included a photo of the 2016 Traverse just below this paragraph so that you don't think we're exaggerating when we say that the 2018's styling is a dramatic departure. From the big grille centered on the upright front-end, through the strong wheel arches, to the D pillar-wedged rear side windows and the sharply angled liftgate, the new Traverse definitely looks the part of a meaner, more rugged SUV. It's mostly a styling trick, though, as the new version measures less than an inch longer and taller than the outgoing model at 204.3 in (5,189 mm) x 70.7 in (1,795 mm), L x H, and just a tenth of an inch wider at 78.6 in (1,996 mm).
Compared to the outgoing Traverse, Chevy has stretched the wheelbase by a full 2 inches (51 mm), up to 120.9 in (3,071 mm), which helps lead the automaker to expect best-in-class passenger volume, third-row leg room and max cargo room. Second-row leg room is up by more than 2 inches to 39 in (990 mm), and third-row legroom is up by half an inch to 33.7 in (856 mm). Maximum cargo volume, however, drops to 98.5 cu ft (2.8 cu m) from 116.3 cu ft (3.3 m).
The new Traverse seats up to eight, depending upon model/configuration, and includes split-folding second-row seating with Smart Slide feature. The curbside seat can tip up and slide forward, even with a front-facing child seat secured, providing seamless access to the rear row. Loading is just a touch easier thanks to a bowtie logo lamp illuminating the ground where the driver has to place a foot to activate the available hands-free liftgate.
The Traverse's wheels get their power from a new 3.6-liter V6 engine with nine-speed automatic transmission, expected to put out 305 hp while also driving fuel economy up to 25 mpg highway. For comparison, the outgoing Traverse gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg highway and 281 or 288 hp, depending on model. When properly equipped, the 2018 Traverse will offer a 5,000-lb (2,268-kg) trailering capacity.
A new 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo I-4 engine will also be on offer and paired with the nine-speed automatic. That engine will have more maximum torque than the V6, and both engine options will utilize intelligent stop/start technology for improved fuel economy. A traction mode selector lets the driver easily adjust driving mode around current road conditions. The SUV will come in both FWD and AWD.
Inside, the new Traverse keeps passengers connected with features like available 7- and 8-in MyLink infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, USB charging ports across all three seating rows, purpose-built device and cargo organization around the interior, and available wireless smartphone charging. Available safety and assistance features, including surround vision, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and low/high-speed forward automatic braking, help keep occupants safe.
The 2018 Traverse will roll out to dealerships in Northern Hemisphere Fall 2017. Pricing has yet to be announced, but sporty RS and premium High Country trim levels will join the lineup as new options.