What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse receives multiple changes this year, including refreshed exterior styling, improved interior materials, a new electronics interface and new safety features.
From outward appearances, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse looks almost fully redesigned. Gone is the signature Chevy split grille, replaced by a nose that looks more at home on a large sedan. The new design may lack personality, but it has a slimming effect that makes its predecessor look bloated by comparison. With a sharper, more defined tailgate and angled lights, the same holds true for the rear of this large crossover.
The interior also received the nip/tuck treatment, with sculpted surfaces and shapes integrated more fluidly into the overall design, and additional features including a standard rearview camera and Chevrolet's new MyLink infotainment interface at the driver's disposal. Similar to MyFord Touch, the MyLink system provides a wealth of audio, navigation and other system control through a simple touchscreen.
The rest of the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse remains unchanged and that's a good thing. Interior cargo capacity continues to be a top draw, with an impressive 116 cubic feet available behind the first-row seats. We like the way the Traverse drives, too, as its comfortable ride quality and 281-horsepower V6 put this big Chevy right at home on city streets and on the highway.
That said, there are great choices for large crossover SUV buyers. The Ford Flex is a funkier take on the same theme and definitely worth checking out, along with the more athletic-handling Mazda CX-9. And if you're willing to drop down a bit in size, the new Hyundai Santa Fe impresses with its all-around excellence. But with a sharper look inside and out, the updated 2013 Chevrolet Traverse holds its place as a smart choice among family-friendly large crossovers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
With seating for up to eight passengers, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is classified as a large crossover SUV. It is offered in four trim levels: LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ.
Standard features on the LS Traverse include 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, roof rails, cruise control, front and rear air-conditioning, keyless entry, full power accessories, cloth upholstery, 60/40 split-folding third-row seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth, OnStar telematics, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, USB/auxiliary audio inputs, and satellite and HD radio.
Steeping up to the 1LT trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, remote ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood grain interior trim and an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustments. On top of that, the 2LT tacks on power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirror, a power rear liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and the MyLink infotainment interface (voice activation, Bluetooth audio connectivity and smartphone radio app integration).
The range-topping LTZ trim includes 20-inch wheels, a blind-spot monitoring system, a rear cross-traffic alert system, second-row captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to seven), leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustments, driver memory functions, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
As comprehensive as this list is, there isn't a lot of room for options. Available on the 2LT and LTZ trims are a navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system. All but the LS trim can also opt for a dual-panel sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment center with USB input and a 110-volt household power outlet.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering most 2013 Chevrolet Traverse models is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 281 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. The LTZ trim features twin exhaust outlets that increase output to 288 hp and 270 pound-feet. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but buyers can choose front- or all-wheel drive.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg in combined driving for the front-drive Traverse and 16/23/19 mpg for the all-wheel-drive model -- average results for crossovers in this class.
Standard safety features on all 2013 Chevy Traverse models include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags for all three rows. OnStar is also standard and includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
An inboard driver-seat side airbag that helps protect front occupants from colliding into each other in the event of a side impact is optional on the LS trim and standard on all others. A blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring system is only available on the top LTZ trim.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse features an attractive new interior, but a few flaws detract from an otherwise successful effort. Most touch-surfaces are decently padded, but the quality of the materials lacks a premium look and feel. Drivers will also notice poor rearward visibility, particularly in reverse. Fortunately, the standard rearview camera provides a clear and comprehensive view.
The rearview monitor and all infotainment functions are controlled by a touchscreen display in the dash, but the screen itself is mounted low in the driver's sight line, and requires a longer glance away from the road ahead. The MyLink interface, which allows smartphone radio app integration, features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure. Touch inputs are occasionally slow or missed entirely, however, making the interface a bit frustrating. We're also not fond of the USB port placement in a dash-top bin where direct sun and high temperatures can bake electronics.
Front-row passengers will enjoy abundant head- and legroom, as will second-row occupants, but the middle-row seat cushions are a bit low. Sliding those seats all the way back alleviates this issue, but that effectively kills third-row legroom. The slide release is also difficult to access. The narrow, flat third-row seats are easily deployed and stowed, but are really suited to kids and smaller adults.
The Traverse scores points for generous cargo capacity. Even with the third-row seats in place, the Traverse can carry up to 24.4 cubic feet of luggage. That figure jumps to 70.3 cubes with the rearmost seats folded flat and a cavernous 116.3 cubes with the second row stowed.
Overall, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse delivers a smooth and quiet highway ride. On curves and passes, the big SUV minimizes body roll and feels more secure and planted than you expect. The V6 engine generates good horsepower, but lacks punch and tends to sound harsh and unrefined under acceleration -- an indication of the mass it's tasked to carry. The thin steering wheel also feels a little outdated and the transmission is slow to react, though gearchanges are smooth.
Whether running errands in the suburbs or traveling the interstates, the Traverse is well suited to delivering several people in comfort or cargo in abundance. Despite its dimensions, it maneuvers well in tight parking lots -- it's just harder to see out of than most competitors.