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Test Drive column: 2020 Chevrolet Traverse

Greg Zyla
More Content Now
Daily Comet

Base price: $29,800

Price as tested: $54,790

This week, we’re driving Chevrolet’s 2020 Traverse, delivered in seven-passenger High Country dress with AWD mechanicals. Front drive Traverse models start at only $29,800 with room for eight passengers, so consumers have lots of leeway between the entry L model and our top trim High Country, which starts at $53,200 fully loaded.

There are seven distinct 2020 models available, and the lone entry L is the only selection that does not offer a 4x4. Most of the Traverse models feature seven passenger seating with two rows of roomy bucket seats and a bench third row. The big change for 2020 is the dropping of the RS trim 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine as all Traverse models now arrive with V6 power as standard fare.

We first drove a Chevy Traverse way back in its debut year of 2009, which lasted all the way to 2017, when this second generation appeared as a 2018 model. Several inches longer in wheelbase, it shares some similarities with Buick Enclave, the latter utilizing the same underpinning and drivetrain but overrides the Bowtie model in side-by-side luxury comparisons.

Although this latest model shares some of the Traverse DNA from generation one, a redesigned exterior delivers a more modern and aerodynamic stance thanks to a lower roofline, nicely done front fascia with a prominent Chevy Bowtie in the center. The rear is also redesigned and features a hands free power liftgate.

Under the hood of every Traverse built sits GM’s aforementioned and popular 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 310 horsepower and 266 lb. ft. of torque. Chevy mates this proven engine to a new nine-speed automatic transmission in both front and AWD applications. The Traverse AWD features a twin-clutch locking rear differential that allows better torque distribution and driver initiated AWD or front-drive only selections.

Built in Lansing, Michigan, the Traverse is currently Chevy’s full-size SUV and is a popular choice, money wise, when comparing it with the higher priced upper-scale SUVs from Buick, Infiniti, Lincoln, Cadillac, Acura, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Granted, the Chevrolet full-size Traverse may not have the luxury branding of the competition, but compared to the luxurious Buick Enclave, which starts at $41,195, the economic advantages of Traverse ownership is clear from a strict monetary comparison.

Our High Country tester came standard with a host of luxury features including leather seven-passenger seating. The first row is heated and ventilated while the second row’s “smart slide” seats easily glide forward and then tilt forward to allow non-cumbersome third-row entry. As for climate control, all three rows feature both heating and cooling ducts and cargo room is exceptional, with close to 100 cu. ft. available with all seats folded.

Infotainment is top class as Chevy’s Infotainment 3 system is now standard across the line. The lower trims feature a standard six-speaker stereo with no navigation, but High Country models feature a Bose Premium 10-speaker stereo with Navigation, Bluetooth, SiriusXM Satellite, remote start, 4G WiFi, one inch larger 8-inch diagonal high-resolution color touch-screen, Apple/Android compatibility, adaptive cruise and keyless entry and start.

The Traverse cabin is quiet and spacious, so much so you can take the entire family (10 cup holders available) and pet to the food store and then later in the day, make a run to the home improvement center for some 2x4s and a replacement screen door depending on seat arrangement. Additionally, those who need to tow can do so up to 1,500 pounds with the front drive models, but our High Country 4x4 features a trailer and tow package that ups capacity to an impressive 5,000 pounds.

Driving manners are good and the ride is comfortable. Not surprising anymore is the power available from the 3.6-liter V6 as GM uses this drive train in many other vehicles. Our Traverse felt more like a V8 than a V6 yet delivered decent 4x4 MPG numbers at 17 city and 25 highway. The nine-speed automatic, which replaces the six-speed that Chevy used in generation one. Because of the three extra gear ratios, GM was able to deliver both better acceleration and better fuel economy, especially on the highway. A start/stop feature to help save fuel when the Traverse is motionless is also standard across all trims.

All Traverse models feature the protection items expected nowadays like safety rear mirror, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, rear cross traffic alert, teen driver info, rear park assist, electronic stability control, lane change alert and much more. The extra safety items that come standard on High Country are enhanced emergency front braking, forward collision alert, smart cruise, lane keep assist, and other high end safety alerts that your Chevrolet dealer will explain when you call. (Some optional high end safety not available on entry L).

Not surprisingly, Chevy Traverse scored excellent 5-Star overall safety ratings in government crash testing thanks to GM’s rollover sensor, Stabilitrak control system, and seven-airbags that help protect the three rows of passengers.

Our Traverse tester featured just one option, an additional $395 for a beautiful Cajun Red exterior paint. When coupled with the High Country’s standard 20-inch polished aluminum sport wheels on Continental all-season tires, it all combined for a beautiful final presentation. Consumers of the top trim will also appreciate an enhanced interior and High Country badges. A dual skyscape sunroof adds to the ambience, as does special High Country brown leather seating. Delivery of $1,195 brought the final bottom line to $54,790.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 120.9-inches, 4,588 lb. curb weight, from 23.0 to 98.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, 5,000-lb. tow capacity, 7.7-inch ground clearance, and a 21.7-gallon fuel tank.

In summary, there are some nice incentives available on new and the few 2019 leftover Traverse models at your dealer. And, since this new generation appeared in 2018, these 2019 and 2020 Traverse SUVs are near identical twins, sans a few color changes and the turbo four-cylinder elimination.

Compared to the higher priced competition, Traverse could well be an overall smart choice.

Likes: Great looks, roomy, safety, economical pricing.

Dislikes: High-tech safety unavailable on L entry model, some blind spots, not much else.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.