Chevrolet will continue its total brand remake with a pair of important introductions at the upcoming New York Auto Show. While we’ll have to wait a week for a closer look at the new Impala sedan, the biggest of the General Motors brands invited a handful of reporters in for a sneak peek at the updated 2013 Chevy Traverse.
As brand boss Chris Perry lifted the covers it was readily apparent that the new, 3-row crossover shares more than a passing resemblance to the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, the Traverse sharing the midsize sedan’s new face, including 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, meanwhile, is more refined and lavishly finished. But what may appeal just as much to the sort of families who need an 8-seater is the long-list of standard and optional safety features offered on the 2013 Chevy Traverse. That includes blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert – and the world’s first front-center airbag, designed to reduce injuries in the event of a side-impact collision.
“The new Traverse is a family vehicle without compromise,” said Perry, during a presentation at what served, nearly a century ago as GM’s original design studio. “It is more capable than many sport-utility vehicles, with as much room as a minivan and better functionality than both.”
The changes to the Traverse – as with many other new GM products – must feel familiar to Perry. The Chevy general manager previously served as the top marketing exec at Hyundai, which has become a direct competitor to Chevrolet by moving its products up-market compared to its days as a bargain basement brand.
And so goes Chevy. The Traverse is a good example of how this bedrock brand is no longer cutting corners hoping to get by with a low price tag and a well-known nameplate. The 2013 Traverse update delivers notably upgraded materials, including soft-touch fabrics, fashion-influenced color combinations and a more luxurious feel, especially on the top-line models.
Among other things, Traverse will offer the 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 3-row crossovers are likely to be 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 front center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes,” Adrian Lund, president of the insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said last year during the preview of the technology – which will also be offered on the 2013 Buick Enclave and GM Acadia models. Those crossover share the same platform as the Traverse.
Mileage also matters, and Chevy notes the 2013 Traverse gets 17 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway with the front-wheel-drive version. Both that and the all-wheel-drive model share the same 3.6-liter V-6 and 6-speed automatic gearbox.
The other big selling point is space. Chevy claims to have carved out a bit more room for passengers – and now offers more cargo capacity than any of its non-GM competition.
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