General Motors introduced the Traverse to the world back in 2008 for the 2009 model year. This particular Chevrolet arrived on the scene to fill a necessary spot for buyers looking for a full-size crossover that offers seating for up to seven or eight passengers. It appears Chevrolet produced the proper machine right out of the gate because sales of the Traverse climb every year.
Now, GM is ready to bring an even better version to market in the form of the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse. This isn’t a totally redesigned version though; we’re dealing with a refreshed version of the Lambda platform-riding machine. If the 2009 Traverse were to be considered version 1.0, then this makes the 2013 Traverse version 1.5. There’s been significant updates to an already solid vehicle, but version 2.0 is still a few years away.
That’s ok though… because 1.5 gives the Traverse a stylish new look on the outside, and a refined cabin space on the inside.
Chevrolet sticks with the familiar trim levels that fans of the brand have come to know. The 2013 Traverse is offered as a LS, LT, or LTZ model, with the LT being offered either the 1LT or 2LT. The starting price of the 2013 Traverse is $30,340 plus another $825 for the dealer freight charge. For that amount of money, one should expect a fair bit of standard kit and the Traverse doesn’t disappoint. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is included with all trim levels, as is OnStar, a 6.5-inch touch screen display, a rear-view camera, and the SmartSlide second-row seating system.
As you climb the trim ladder, more options and standard features become available such as the Chevrolet MyLink system, Navigation, and a remote starting system. Once you start adding in all the options on the top trim, you can quickly find that you’re right around the $40,000 mark.
Competition: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
There’s no denying that you need to spend quite a few bucks if you’re interested in a full-size three-row crossover. We expect that most folks will opt for a middle-of-the-road 1LT or 2LT Traverse, and therefore wind up spending between $35,000 and $45,000. That’s a pretty good place to be considering most of the competition costs a few ticks more.
The Ford Expedition, which is less than three inches longer than the Traverse, costs at least $5,000 more than the Chevy. Additionally, it’s offered with the 5.4-liter V8 engine but has to shuffle around nearly 5,500 pounds. This means that it’s a few ticks slower than the V6-equipped Traverse, which tips the scales at a surprisingly svelte 4,646 pounds.
If you opt for the top trim LTZ, you’re only a few thousand dollars away from stepping into the luxury shoes of the Audi Q7. Still, the Traverse is again a quicker vehicle, lighter, and offers far more passenger room on the inside.
For something a bit closer in price to the 2013 Traverse, you have to look at the Chrysler camp. The 2013 Dodge Durango offers very competitive pricing, a bit more aggressive styling, and similar performance figures. It’s down a bit in terms of interior space, but it lines up most evenly with the revised Traverse.
Exterior: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
The most notable changes to the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse happened on the outside. Designers set out to give the Traverse a more refined and familiar nose and tail, and we can say that they achieved their goal. Up front, the hood is set off by the trademark power dome while the grille, headlamps and chrome accents all come together to provide a more mature face that is also readily recognized as belonging to a Chevy.
Around the back, the taillights have been reworked and are nearly reminiscent of the rear reds found on the Camaro. Overall, this move lends the Traverse a far more sporty and athletic appearance. Couple the changes front and rear and you wind up with a rather handsome full-size crossover suv.
Interior: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
While the outside leans towards a sporty look, the interior moves a bit more elegant in terms of its design language. The materials have been upgraded to give the Traverse a far more premium feel, which is helped along with the contrasting stitching and chrome and silver accent pieces. The front seats are quite comfortable, and make for a pleasant sitting perch on trips of all lengths.
It’s not just a cozy cabin for the front folks, because the Traverse is a three-row vehicle and Chevrolet designers and engineers paid attention to the needs of everyone else. The 2013 Traverse can be setup as a seven or eight passenger vehicle, depending on what type of second row seating arrangement you desire. It’s either a pair of captain’s chairs of a bench unit. Either way, the Traverse offers up class-leading passenger space, which means everyone on board should be able to get comfortable.
Powertrain and Fuel Economy: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
Keeping things simple, Chevrolet has opted to stick with one engine and transmission across the Traverse model lineup. Under the hood sits a 3.6-liter V6 engine that utilizes variable valve timing and direct injection to extract peak performance and solid fuel economy. All trims except the top LTZ model are equipped with a single-outlet exhaust system, and that means the engine produces 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The Traverse LTZ is fitted with a dual exhaust system that pushes power up a notch to 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
Regardless of the number of exhaust outlets, all of the Traverse models are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, buyers can choose between front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. On the front drive models, you can expect to see fuel economy figures of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway, per EPA estimates. Want to move all four wheels under power? Fuel economy only dips by one mile per gallon for both city and highway driving.
Driving Impressions: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
Out on the road, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse tends to drive a bit smaller than we expected… and that’s a great thing. The power steering system responds easily to all of our directional inputs and helps to ease a bit of the heft we expected to feel while piloting this nearly 5,000 pound machine. Saying it’s nearly 5,000 pounds is stretching it though, because the front-wheel-drive unit we spent time with tips the scales at 4,713 pounds. The rest of the competition weighs a whole lot more, with the exception of the Dodge Durango.
Keeping things light has helped turn the 2013 Traverse into a full-size vehicle that’s easy to maneuver through a grocery store parking lot or out on the highway. The six-speed gearbox has been recalibrated to provide smoother shifts, while also allowing for better kick downs when passing or increased acceleration is called upon.
Further aiding in the confidence department is the fact that the brakes are quite smooth. Progressive application of the pedal results in slow, even stops, which is very important in a large vehicle. Pair the brakes with the suspension and steering, and the result is a full-size crossover that provides a comfortably smooth ride and confident driving experience.
Safety: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
The Traverse already earned most of the accolades that can be bestowed upon it from a safety standpoint. Now, the 2013 Traverse is taking things even further. Chevrolet is introducing the industry’s first front center side air bag. That’s a mouthful, but what it means is that the Traverse is equipped with an air bag that sits in the inboard side of the driver’s seat. During a side impact crash, it inflates and protects the front passenger and driver from each other by creating a barrier between them.
Besides the new air bag tech, the 2013 Traverse is also available with a side blind zone alert system, StabiliTrack stability control, a standard rear-view camera system, and a host of other technological features that all work together to keep everyone safe.
Final Thoughts: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet understands that, despite the rising cost of fuel, there are folks out there that need a full-size crossover SUV. The 2013 Traverse fills that niche rather nicely by offering a range of trims designed to comply with the budgetary restraints of those shopping in this segment. Additionally, the Traverse can be outfitted to feel as premium as desired.
It offers class-leading interior space, solid fuel economy, and nearly V8 performance with a V6 engine. On top of that, the new looks match the smooth driving feel. If this is version 1.5, we can’t wait to see what’s in store down the road when 2.0 hits the market. It doesn’t matter though, because the newest version is a pretty good buy as it sits.
-Refined exterior lends a more mature yet sporty look.
-Comfortable interior feels upmarket on mid and top trims.
-Rolls down the road with surprising smoothness.
-Some might desire actual V8 performance for towing.
-That’s… about it really, this thing is pretty good for the category in which it sits.
Photos by Jeff Glucker.
Test vehicle courtesy of General Motors