MORE ROOM & MORE POWER

2018 CHEVRO­LET TRA­VERSE

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - FRONT PAGE - Jil Mcin­tosh Driv­ing.ca

MONC­TON, N.B. – My Chevy Tra­verse has a rat­tle in it. It’s a brand-new ve­hi­cle and it shouldn’t have a rat­tle, but there it is. Over a rut­ted road, there’s an an­noy­ing, pla­s­ticky, nasty rat­tle that won’t go away. I touch parts and pan­els, try­ing to fig­ure out what’s mak­ing the noise. And af­ter all that, it turns out to be a loose cap on my wa­ter bot­tle.

I re­mem­ber when SUVs were just trucky boxes of noise on wheels. They’ve all been get­ting more car-like for quite a while, but it’s still im­pres­sive when one’s quiet enough in­side that I can hear a wob­bly lid.

The Tra­verse is all new for 2018, start­ing with a stiff new plat­form that gives it a com­fort­able and — as I dis­cov­ered — very quiet ride. The ve­hi­cle’s over­all length re­mains vir­tu­ally the same from the last-gen­er­a­tion model, but the wheel­base is longer, which pro­vides more in­te­rior space. The third-row cush­ions are still un­com­fort­ably hard and flat, but there’s now enough legroom there for most adults, and of course chil­dren will love be­ing back there. There’s also an im­pres­sive amount of cargo space, even when the back seats are up, which is of­ten a weak point for many three-row ve­hi­cles.

Nat­u­rally, the styling also morphs with this new model, with a more an­gu­lar de­sign that gives it a big­ger-than-it-is look that GM’s rep de­scribed as “more mas­cu­line” (although I’m not quite sure what made the last one ap­par­ently more fem­i­nine-look­ing). In any case, it’s a hand­some beast. The large win­dows pro­vide good vis­i­bil­ity, and while slightly big­ger mir­rors would im­prove that even more, all mod­els come with a stan­dard rear-view cam­era, and mid-level trims and up add a 360-de­gree view.

The new 3.6-litre V6 en­gine is the usual more-power-less-fuel im­prove­ment over the old Tra­verse, mak­ing 310 horse­power and 260 pound-feet of torque. Even­tu­ally it will be joined by a tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine, with 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, which will come solely in the new RS trim level, and only in fron­twheel drive. It’s mostly aimed at ur­ban driv­ers who don’t want a big­ger en­gine, although the fuel sav­ings will be min­i­mal. The V6 with FWD is rated at a com­bined city-high­way rat­ing of 11.0 L/100 km, the four-cylin­der at 10.5. Even the all-wheel V6 isn’t that huge a jump over the fron­twheel model, with a com­bined rat­ing of 11.8 L/100 km.

The V6 Tra­verse comes in five trim lev­els, start­ing at $34,895 for the LS and climb­ing to an eye-wa­ter­ing $58,495 for the top-line High Coun­try. The two low­est lev­els come in FWD or AWD, while ev­ery­thing else is all-wheel. Even so, the all-wheel can be switched into front-wheel only through a dial on the con­sole. I’d leave it in all-wheel any­way, be­cause the Tra­verse runs pri­mar­ily in fron­twheel, but dis­trib­utes power to the back when­ever needed to main­tain trac­tion, giv­ing peace of mind with a very small dif­fer­ence in fuel econ­omy.

The High Coun­try ex­clu­sively in­cludes a more so­phis­ti­cated all­wheel sys­tem with torque vec­tor­ing, which gives it more sta­bil­ity on sharp curves. It may even­tu­ally find its way into lower trims, but for now it’s kept at the higher level pri­mar­ily be­cause it’s a costlier sys­tem to build.

There’s a lot of tech­nol­ogy in this new model, but one fea­ture that grabbed my at­ten­tion is a pro­gram in the elec­tric power steer­ing. Turn­ing the steer­ing wheel the right way in a skid can help get you safely back on track. If the Tra­verse de­tects it’s go­ing side­ways, it will make the wheel eas­ier to turn in the cor­rect di­rec­tion, and harder if your wrong move will make the skid worse.

The V6 is a smooth per­former, as is the nine-speed trans­mis­sion that’s mated to it. It in­cludes start-stop, which shuts the en­gine off at idle to re­duce fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions, but while most man­u­fac­tur­ers give you the op­tion of tem­po­rar­ily dis­abling it, GM doesn’t. I much pre­fer hav­ing the choice.

My noisy bot­tle cap aside, the Tra­verse is a pleas­ant driver. It feels smaller than it is, helped by the re­spon­sive steer­ing and tight turn­ing ra­dius. The seats are sup­port­ive, both on the leather-clad High Coun­try and cloth-up­hol­stered LT trim lev­els that I drove.

The wide cen­tre con­sole makes the front foot wells a bit tight, but there’s good legroom for sec­ond-row pas­sen­gers. One mid­dle seat can be slid for­ward while up­right, so a child seat can re­main in place while pro­vid­ing third-row ac­cess, and it’s a rel­a­tively wide open­ing to get back there.

Con­nec­tiv­ity is the big deal these days, and all mod­els come with Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto, seven- or eight-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, Wi-Fi hot spot and a rear-seat re­minder lest a child be for­got­ten back there. The screen it­self slides up to re­veal a hid­den stor­age cubby, and you can set a PIN to lock it.

Cana­di­ans have con­sis­tently been buy­ing more SUVs than cars, and so au­tomak­ers have been putting their ef­forts into mak­ing their peo­ple­movers bet­ter. There are a few mi­nor flaws, but over­all, this Tra­verse re­vamp is pretty im­pres­sive. It’s roomy, it looks good, and it drives well, and that’s what most peo­ple pri­or­i­tize in a fam­ily ve­hi­cle. Just be sure to se­cure all drink-con­tainer lids be­fore driv­ing.

Jil Mcin­tosh/ Driv­ing

2018 Chevro­let Tra­verse in High Coun­try trim.

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