Competition really does make the breed better. Midsized sport utility vehicles, which are designed for carrying families and their belongings everywhere, must be good these days or face being left on dealer lots to face the risk of slowly buried in snowdrifts.
The competition is fierce the list of the nameplates continues to expand and includes formidable vehicles such as the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride or Volkswagen Atlas.
But Chevrolet, which in the past seemed willing to yield ground in the face of intense competition, isn’t giving an inch in this critical segment. The Chevrolet Traverse, which I drove for a week recently, more than holds its own in a hotly contested segment with a well thought out vehicle that offers a combination of family-oriented styling, versatility, performance, and most of all comfort that underscores the brand’s traditional appeal to huge swath of American consumers, who grew up with a Chevy in their family’s driveway and those who did not.
The face of the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse contains an updated version of the traditional bowtie dead center in a handsome grille with the headlamps, running lights and foglamps neatly tucked into the corners.
The sheet metal is tailored from front to back. The areas over the hood and liftgate are also carefully styled with an optional roof rack and sunroof only adding to the vehicle’s versatile appearance. The overall exterior design has a crisp edge that exudes confidence and competence. That looks was nicely set off by the 20-inch wheels on the model I drove.
Vehicles in the segment need an interior that satisfy the driver and anyone else occupying one the comfortable seats in the three-row version of 2021 Chevrolet Traverse. One of the first things you notice about the interior of Traverse is the impressive mix of materials used to furnish and finish the quiet cabin. The materials found in the version of Traverse I drove included soft material on the inner doors as well as ebony, chrome and nickel accents and a leather dashboard and leather-appointed seats.
The overall impression is one of stylish comfort capable of accommodating long trips or a round of everyday errands. All of this is complemented by storage spaces and cupholders throughout the cabin as well as well as an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack.
The visibility from the comfortable driver’s seat is exceptionally good and the controls are brought within easy reach of the driver even though the Traverse is a relatively large vehicle. In addition, the heated steering wheel is equipped with controls for cruise control and the entertainment system. One drawback, however, are the third-row seats, which are a tight squeeze.
The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The combination produces 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is adequate with a combined 20 mile per gallon rating from the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes 17 mpg on the city driving cycle and 25 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
The list of safety and security features on the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse includes high-definition surround vision, rear-park assist, rear-cross traffic alert as well as forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure alert, blind-spot detection and front pedestrian braking.
Also available on the Traverse Chevrolet Infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, OnStar, a Bose 10-speaker sound system, 4G hotspot, remote start and satellite radio connection. There is also 120-volt power outlet and tri-zone heating controls. The list of features raises the final price to $52,030, including the $1,195 destination charge.
At its heart, the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse is basically all business. The fun part of driving it comes from being able to carry friends and family and their gear to a desired destination. But it is a pleasant vehicle to drive with a nice solid feel out on the highway or on a dirt road or in the snow.
As you push down on the throttle the response is so evenly modulated that you might think there is less than 310 hp at work. But it does deliver when you reach speed, and the overall ride and handling is particularly good with a nice steering feel and solid brakes.
Chevrolet was one of the brands that got pummeled by its Japanese rivals during the 1980s and 1990s. It was the kid who always seemed to have its lunch money taken away on the playground. But those days are gone, and the new version of this storied brand is quite capable of coming up with solid, capable, versatile and pricey SUVs such the 2021 Chevrolet Traverse.