Despite the fact that at this stage in my life I am far from being a family man, my tester over the past week was the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT. As the market seems to shift more and more away from the traditional minivan we have been seeing a lot of these crossover SUV/minivans popping up. GM has definitely caught onto this craze as variants of the Traverse are also sold under the Buick and GMC brands (Enclave and Acadia). The Traverse is arguably the most simplistic and conservative design of the three cousins, which, next to the Enclave especially, is a good thing.
The styling on the outside of the Traverse is clean, simple, and pretty classy. There isn’t anything wrong with it per se, but there’s nothing that jumps out at me as something that I find overly attractive or aesthetically pleasing. Truth be told, I find it to look a bit bulky, mostly due to the massive gap between the rear wheel-well and the rearmost passenger window. I realize that when you’re buying a three-row, seven-seat, people-transport looks aren’t the first priority, so I will digress. Compared to some others in its class though, it’s an inoffensive and at the end of the day, that’s what sells.
When I stepped inside the Traverse I found myself becoming much more forgiving of the bulky exterior – you realize it’s somewhat necessary to allow the sheer amount of space inside. There’s seriously tons of room in this vehicle – just looking inside made me want to grab my skis, some friends, and hit the road searching for any hill with the lifts open. Even with the third row seats up and in place, there’s still enough room for a few overnight bags and a couple pairs of skis. When it comes down to business though, the cockpit seems a bit dated, thanks largely to the indigo illumination and grey plastics which line it. The instrument cluster seems oddly similar to the previous-generation Impala. With the 2014 restyle of the Traverse, the gauge cluster should have been updated. However, the seats are exceptionally comfortable, and on the longer hauls I didn’t find myself tensing up or fiddling with my seat position to prevent back kinks.
The infotainment system was simple enough to figure out, with a touchscreen that was very responsive. There were a couple times where my phone wouldn’t connect, and I never could figure out how to set up the text messaging features after some fiddling around. Something important to me in a road trip vehicle is the Bose sound system, which was actually quite good. It consisted mainly of midrange sound, which was surprising for a Bose system, but it lacked that “punch” of bass that I look forward to. Passengers in the rear seats do have access to two sets of wireless headphones which link into the DVD player – no doubt helpful to parents on long road trips. Although the heated seats were extremely quick to warm up, with all that cabin air to heat up I did feel myself wanting a heated wheel every morning I was driving.
When it comes down to actually driving, the Traverse shines in the snow with its AWD and surprisingly sticky grip. While it’s not exactly the sort of vehicle you’d want to off-road, the Traverse is capable and gives drivers the confidence to get from A to B in some pretty nasty conditions. Although, I have to admit it does feel a lot like a freight train when you’re trying to get it up to speed. The transmission feels sluggish, and I have a sinking suspicion that the manual mode only works in Low-Drive. Despite feeling underpowered, the 3.6L V-6 allows the Traverse to return respectable fuel mileage in it’s class – combined I saw an average of 11.1L/100km. Being a Chevrolet product without forced-induction, the Traverse gets away with regular-grade fuel. Visibility was also a challenge at times, with the blind spots being large enough to house several Smart cars, it would’ve been nice to have some sort of blind spot monitor system.
Although the Traverse is a great crossover if you’ve got a big family, or find yourself transporting lots of folks around on the daily, I’m not convinced it would be my first choice. Its spaciousness, fuel efficiency, and comfort make it a contender amongst the seemingly endless sea of crossovers – but it is the victim of only adequate driving dynamics, and a slightly dated interior. I’m the first to admit that I’m not Chevrolet’s target market here, but an interior update and transmission overhaul, a wife and 3 kids would likely make this a much more attractive vehicle to me.
2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT Gallery