2013 Chevrolet Traverse
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Fall 2012
Expected Pricing: $30,000 - $40,000
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse will sport a major mid-cycle update when it goes on sale later this year. Traverse is a big crossover utility vehicle capable of seating eight.
The equation is easy to understand: as fuel prices rise, more and more American motorists downsize. But for some, especially those with a large family, trading in on a small passenger car just isn't an option. The challenge is finding something that can delivers both the necessary space, features and a reasonable level of fuel economy.
That, Chevrolet is betting, will help it sell the 2013 upgrade of the big Traverse crossover-utility vehicle. Revealed at the New York International Auto Show, the revised Traverse also comes through where it counts to family buyers: with an array of advanced safety technology, including a world's first, a center-front airbag system.
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse undergoes a relatively modest but much-needed exterior update. The goal is to give the CUV a more familial appearance, its face now bearing a strong similarity to the 2013 Malibu, notably starting with the lower-profile headlamps and three-bar grille. The liftgate has also been updated and results in a more appealing, if a bit more conventional crossover-style rear end.
The interior is more refined and lavishly finished, delivering notably upgraded materials, including soft-touch fabrics, fashion-influenced color combinations and a more luxurious feel, especially on the top-line models. Chevy has come to recognize that buyers will no longer accept a bare bones cabin with poorly grained and cheesy looking plastic parts that remind you every time you drive that the manufacturer was focused on cutting corners. The top-line version of the Traverse, in fact, might surprise a luxury utility owner if they didn't notice the bowtie badge.
For many buyers, big crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse are a substitute for the much-maligned minivan. In fact, Chevrolet no longer has a minivan in its line-up. True, you sacrifice the convenient sliding door, but other than that, the Traverse is roomy, reasonably easy to get in-and-out of and features room for eight in its three rows.
These days, technology is a big selling point, especially on family vehicles like the Traverse. Among other things, the 2013 update will offer Chevy's new, voice-activated MyLink system, which features a 6.5-inch LCD touchscreen and can pair up with a smartphone to provide in-car access to apps like Pandora.
But those who buy three-row crossovers are likely to be especially motivated by safety technology. And the new front-center airbag is a significant new development. It pops up between the driver and front passenger if the vehicle is struck from the side, making sure they don't slam into one another, a major source of injuries and fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway safety recently declared that the technology, which will be shared with the 2013 Buick Enclave and GM Acadia models has potential to save lives in side crashes. Other safety features include six standard airbags on even base models, ABS and electronic stability control and options such as blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
If fuel prices keep rising, mileage might be one of the biggest issues CUV buyers will ask about and while it's not the best-in-class, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse will deliver an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway with the front-wheel-drive version. Both that and the all-wheel-drive model share the same 3.6-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission.
The other big selling point is space. Chevy claims to have not only carved out a bit more room for passengers, but now offers more cargo capacity than any of its non-GM competition.
Prices will not be available until Traverse goes on sale later this year, but we're guessing it will be along the lines of the current 2012 Traverse lineup, which ranges from a base price of $29,430 to $40,805 for a Traverse LTZ AWD.