I’ll just cut to the punchline right now: The 2022 Chevrolet Traverse RS is better than you think it is. I’ll say that because you probably don’t have the highest opinion of it – it’s a big crossover from the biggest of big corporate car makers. There’s a general stigma against General Motors that everything they make (everything that isn’t a Corvette or a truck with a Corvette engine) is a bland, watered down offering. Basic. You’re not supposed to like it.
It’s like walking into a bar that’s known for its vast array of beers on tap. The variety is almost dizzying. There’s all sorts of different styles from all over the world, there’s a whole bunch of hops that sound like gibberish, some look like fruit juice, some of them were apparently made by Belgian monks, and you’re pretty sure from the description one of them is actually a salad. Everyone’s stopped talking about mouthfeel and hop profiles to see what you’re gonna say. You don’t want to say it, but you know what you want. You take a deep breath and say “I’ll have a Coors.” Oh, dude. You’re not supposed to get that. You suck.
Here’s what they don’t get: Coors is actually a decent beer. Once you get past the snobbery of drinking the big corporate swill your Dad drinks, you’ll find it’s a damn good example of the larger style, and a lager is a difficult style to get right. It’s almost indistinguishable from some of the German brands, and cleaner than a lot of the craft stuff. Moreover, they don’t appreciate that hops are farmed crops, and crops vary from year to year and place to place – the absolute mastery required to turn this into a perfectly consistent product over and over again is incredible.
Just like that big corporate beer, this big corporate car is better than you’d expect, and it shouldn’t be a surprise. There is a mountain of engineering and development testing that goes into this. Everything is focus group tested. GM knows exactly what’s going to work, what people want, and what they can get away with. It’s a modern reimagining of the classic family station wagon designed specifically for the exact person who doesn’t know (or is unwilling to admit) that’s what they want.
For 2022, the Traverse gets a mild facelift that sees its front fascia tightened up with sharper lines and slimmer headlights; it’s subtle but translates into a noticeably more handsome vehicle. Our tester featured the RS trim, which includes dark dub wheels, black trim, larger exhaust tips, all finished in Cherry Red paint to make the whole package pop and give a little sporting snap to this family hauler.
The RS treatment continues inside, with leather, perforated leather inserts, red stitching, and a little anodized red RS badge on the shifter. GM’s interior materials have been a source of complaint for time immemorial, and it hasn’t been an honest complaint for some time. Yes, something like a Mazda may be generally prettier inside, and the newest crop of Nissans may have nicer switchgear, but everything in the Traverse feels durable and presents well.
The seats are comfortable, all the controls are logically laid out and easy to use, and there’s a plethora of storage available. On the topic of storage, this has more cargo capacity than nearly any other three-row SUV – I had a set of wheels and tires in the back for a few days and I forgot they were there. Infotainment is handled by a relatively small eight-inch touchscreen, which honestly is not a knock against it – it feels familiar, rather than following the trend of an enormous digital tombstone parked on top of everything. It’s sharp, bright, snappy, intuitive, and unfussy.
On the road, the Traverse does well – very well, actually. It’s reminiscent of a big Camaro, which regular readers will know is a huge compliment. This is because like the Camaro, the Traverse is very effective at hiding its huge size through brilliant chassis tuning. The suspension strikes an excellent balance of ride comfort and body control, and the steering is surprisingly communicative, with a nice natural weight and feel.
It borrows an engine from the Camaro well, making use of the 3.6 litre V6 that GM’s been refining for years now – tuned in this guise to make 310hp at a lofty 6800rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. It’s a lovely unit, and offers so much more character and better response than the turbocharged engines in a lot of its competitors. Power comes on very linearly, and is readily available from low rpms, with the terrific nine-speed automatic seamlessly making best use of the engine’s flexible powerband. All told, It’s pretty fast, and will roast tires if you’ve got a heavy foot.
It’s incredibly smooth and quiet as well, almost inaudible at idle, with a healthy growl as revs rise. Even the stop-start system, which we’re normally not fans of, is thoroughly slick – among the most unobtrusive we’ve ever seen. There’s little else to intrude, as the cabin is very well isolated from the outside world, with hardly any in the way of wind and road noise. Pair this with lots of space, comfortable seating, excellent adaptive cruise control, and healthy fuel efficiency (11.8L/100km observed) and it’s easy to cover lots of ground in the Traverse.
At $52,218, it’s a decent value as well, if what you’re looking for is a large, unfussy, familiar family car. Our only real gripe is that it lacks heated seats, as the crop of computer chips to control them isn’t ready for harvest yet – GM says it will install them free of charge when they’re available. Otherwise the 2022 Chevrolet Traverse RS gets all the broad strokes right. It’s spacious, comfortable, quiet, capable, efficient, powerful, and it drives very well. This big corporate crossover may not be the sort of thing we’re supposed to like, but we can’t deny it’s a damn good example of the style.