Chevrolet has pretty much been out of the minivan business for a decade, since the demise of the Uplander in 2008 (we don't count the current, cargo-centric Chevy City Express, a rebadged Nissan NV200).
Chevy competes for the family-hauling trade with its up-to-eight passenger Traverse, which debuted in 2009. GM figures this large "crossover" can be made sportier and handsomer than a minivan while, at the same time, performing essentially the same domestic functions.
So, let Chrysler have its all-new 2017 Pacifica; let Honda have its all-new 2018 Odyssey. Chevy for 2018 doubles down on its three-row crossover, introducing Generation 2 of Traverse while, in the process, making what already was a big vehicle bigger — half an inch longer while riding a wheelbase that stretches two inches farther.
From a styling standpoint, the idea is to make domesticity cool. Observers will note in this Traverse's face more than a passing resemblance to the Equinox midsize crossover. In the profile, fans of the Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs will spot a familiarside-window treatment. In back, the look is vaguely reminiscent of Traverse's platform mate, the all-new GMC Acadia.
Interestingly, though Acadia and Traverse share a platform, the Chevy's wheelbase stretches more than eight inches farther while Traverse casts a shadow that's nearly 11 inches longer than Acadia's.
The payoff is people room, which Traverse figures buyers of family haulers prize more than cargo space. Chevy says this second-generation Traverse, whose first generation was impressively roomy, provides even more head and leg room for second- and third-row passengers.
The cargo bay, alas, shrinks a tad. Aft of the third row, room for stuff is now 23 cu. ft., down from 24.4 in the outgoing Traverse. With all seats folded, cargo room is down seven cubes, to 99 cu. ft.
Regarding power, the standard engine remains GM's well-regarded 3.6-liter, direct injection V-6, generating 305 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. A new option is a turbocharged I-4, which, compared to the six, makes notably less power (255 hp) but notably more torque (295 lb.-ft.)
The V-6 can be had with front- or all-wheel drive, the blown four is a front-driver only. Regardless, a nine-speed automatic manages the proceedings.
Traverse's familiar LS, LT and Premier trims are joined in 2018 by the ultra-tony High Country and the "sporting" RS, with its more athletic suspension tuning. Notably, all trims get the V-6 except the "sporty" RS, which comes only as a front-driver and only with the four-banger. Go figure.
Thanks to a host of reasons, not least being the nine-speed transmission, replacing a six-speed, and a reported weight-savings of about 350 pounds compared to Traverses of yore, mpg is said to be up. The outgoing model EPA'd at 15 city/22 hwy in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations. The front-drive 2018, Chevy predicts, will rate 18/25 with the six, 20/23 with the four.
Of course, all requisite family faves are here, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, not to mention a 360-degree camera and a full suite of active safety features.
This Traverse arrives in the fall. No pricing yet, but we're guessing it'll start around $30,000 and top out in High Country togs within shouting distance of 50-grand.