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The Ideal, Modestly-Priced Mid-Sized SUV With Third-Row Seating: Part 5

The Chevrolet Traverse, with the exception of the L model Jeep Grand Cherokee, is the wildcard of this series. The reason? The model we’re most interested in won’t be released until fall. Chevrolet had been hinting that a notable refresh was on the way for the Traverse for some time, but plans to perform the updates on 2021 models were shelved early last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the revamp pushed back to 2022 models, it means a fall debut is in store for the version we are most eager to testdrive. But can we wait that long? After all, babies don’t wait, and this family needs third-row seating ASAP.

New front and rear fascias and an updated grille, new LED tail lights, a revamped interior with new available 8-inch driver information center and a choice of four different wheel designs have garnered our attention. But on top of that, six safety features (including automatic high beam functionality) will come standard starting with the 2022 Traverse. So can the coming version of Chevy’s third best-selling nameplate woo us enough to hold out until September? The following high marks might just force us to consider it.

Best-In-Class Cargo Space

Chevrolet Traverse Cargo Space

At 98.2 cubic feet of available cargo space with the second and third rows folded down, the Traverse is king in this segment. It positively dwarfs everything else we’ve tested thus far in terms of hauling capacity (by comparison, the Ford Explorer has 87.7, the Dodge Durango just 85.1 and the Subaru Ascent has 86.5). With the Traverse’s third-row folded flat, it’s a similar story, with 57.8 cubic feet of room available vs. the Explorer’s 48 cubic feet, the Durango’s 43.3 cubic feet and the Ascent’s 47.5 cubic feet. Note that a power folding third-row seat is available but only on High Country trim (according to 2021 models).

7 Or 8-Passenger Capacity

Third Row Seating Chevrolet Traverse

Like the Ascent we tested last time, Chevrolet’s Traverse can be had in either 8-passenger or 7-passenger configurations. The former means you get a second-row bench, which is standard on L and LS models, but also available in LT trim. Second row captain’s chairs and seating for seven is standard equipment on RS, Premier and High Country models. As for the third row, you’ll find a 60/40 split-folding bench that accommodates three passengers—and we would argue more comfortably than the Ascent will. On both the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango you get a 50/50 rear bench for two.

310HP, Standard

3.6L V-6 Chevrolet Traverse Engine

Across all trim levels, one powertrain is available on the Traverse. For the most part, it can hold its own against most of the competition (aside from a V-8 Durango or Explorer ST or Platinum). Its naturally aspirated, DOHC 3.6L V-6 packs an aluminum block and heads, variable valve timing and spark ignition direct injection technology. It produces 310 hp at 6,800 rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at a low 2,800 rpm. Coupled to GM’s smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic, it can propel the Traverse from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and also send it through the quarter-mile in low 15-second intervals. AWD models are EPA-rated for 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. On front-wheel drive models those numbers increase to 18 and 27.

Pricing: Right In The Thick Of It

2022 Chevrolet Traverse Premier

As far as pricing is concerned, Traverse is as competitive as it gets in the midsize, third-row SUV segment. A bare bones, base model L with all-wheel drive carries an MSRP of $30,995 (2021 pricing) while the LS trim just above it starts at $34,095 (again 2021 pricing). However, you have to check the LT box if you want a power-adjustable driver seat, heated sideview mirrors and Sirius XM satellite radio (AWD LT with cloth starts at $38,395 and leather starts at $40,295 per 2021 pricing). From there, the stylish RS begins at $45,490, the Premier starts at $47,595 and High Country trim kicks off at $53,290—all of which are spec’d with AWD and follow 2021 pricing.

5-Star Safety Rating

Mid-Size SUV Chevrolet Traverse High Country

In the way of safety, we certainly like the moves Chevrolet has made with the 2022 Traverse. Six driver-assist technologies now come standard across all trims. This includes lane-keeping assist (along with lane departure warning), automatic emergency braking, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert and IntelliBeam automatic high beams. Add in the fact that Traverse has earned a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and we’re confident it could protect the most precious of cargo in the event the unexpected happens.

New Heads, Tails and IntelliBeam Technology

Traverse LED Headlight IntelliBeam Technology

New signature LED headlamps and tail lamps will be introduced on the 2022 Traverse, along with the turn signal indicators now being integrated into the daytime running lamps. As for Chevrolet’s IntelliBeam technology, it means the high beams automatically turn off if approaching headlights are detected or if you’re closing in on the tail lights of the vehicle you’re following. The IntelliBeam functionality only works at speeds above 25 mph. If it’s effective, this feature should be more than welcomed by consumers.

Our Ideal Traverse

RS Chevrolet Traverse SUV

For the look, options and functionality we would want in a Traverse, an RS model with AWD would be our choice. Unfortunately, its MSRP comes in near the top of our budget ($45,490 per 2021 pricing), vs. the Ford Explorer XLT and Subaru Ascent Premier we’ve tested and like, which sticker for $42,275 and $37,904 respectively. So the price point is a hard sell for us, but the best-in-class cargo space and abundance of standard safety features could eventually change our mind. For now, with pricing not available for 2022 models and the fact that we can’t sit behind the wheel (yet), we have no other choice than to place the Traverse low on our list.

  • So exactly what are we looking for in our pursuit of the perfect, budget-friendly, third-row SUV? Check out Part 1 for the list of things we can’t live without.
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