Full 2014 Chevrolet Traverse Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Chevrolet Traverse sees just a few changes. All Traverses gain an extra pair of charge-only USB ports, and the top-dog LTZ trim picks up standard forward collision-alert and lane-departure warning systems.
Large crossover SUVs have become the vehicle of choice for many large families. And it's easy to see why, as these crossovers offer plenty of room for passengers and their belongings, as well as the availability of all-wheel drive to get them confidently to their destinations in foul weather conditions. Among these new-age station wagons, the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse stands as a sensible choice.
Among the Traverse's many attributes is its very spacious interior that can seat up to eight passengers. Or, with the second- and third-row seats flipped down, it can provide a cavernous 116 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The cabin is attractive, too, benefiting from last year's refresh that brought more harmonious styling along with a standard rearview camera and Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment interface. The latter controls a wealth of audio, navigation and phone functions through a simple touchscreen.
As you'd expect, there are other good choices for a large crossover. The 2014 Ford Flex, with its more traditional wagonlike styling, is a funkier take on the same theme and definitely worth checking out, as is the more athletic-handling and nearly as spacious Mazda CX-9. And if you're willing to drop down a bit in size, the Hyundai Santa Fe impresses with its all-around excellence. But with its handsome styling, enormous cabin and impressive day-to-day functionality, the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse more than holds its own in the current population of family-friendly crossovers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
With seating for up to eight passengers, the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse is classified as a large crossover SUV. It is offered in three basic trim levels -- LS, LT and LTZ -- but the LT is subdivided into 1LT and 2LT versions.
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, satellite radio and HD radio). There are also dual USB charge-only ports on the rear of the center console.
Stepping 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 an auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirror, a power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and the MyLink infotainment interface (which includes voice control, 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, forward collision-alert system, lane-departure warning system, power-folding mirrors, 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.
Some of the upper trims' features are available on the lower trims as options; for example, the forward collision alert and lane-departure warning systems are optional on the 2LT. Also available, depending on trim level, are a navigation system, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, a dual-panel sunroof and a rear-seat DVD entertainment center with A/V inputs and a 110-volt household power outlet for gaming consoles.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering most 2014 Chevrolet Traverse models is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The LTZ trim features twin exhaust outlets that increase output to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but buyers can choose front-wheel or all-wheel drive. In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive LTZ sprinted to 60 mph in a class-competitive 8.1 seconds.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg in combined driving for the front-drive Traverse (17 city/24 highway) and 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway) for the all-wheel-drive model; both are average results for V6 crossovers in this class.
Standard safety features on all 2014 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. Rear parking sensors are standard on all versions, except the base LS. A blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring system is standard on the LTZ, as are forward collision-alert and lane-departure warning systems. The latter two are optional on the 2LT.
In Edmunds brake testing, a fully loaded LTZ with all-wheel drive required just 119 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is better than average for a family-oriented three-row crossover SUV. In government crash tests, the Traverse earned a top five-star rating for overall performance, with five out of five stars given for overall front-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Traverse also fared well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, in which it got the highest rating of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse features a spacious and attractive interior. Most touch points are decently padded, and GM's recent attention to improving materials quality has helped the Traverse look and feel more premium than in previous years, especially the LTZ.
The rearview monitor and all infotainment functions are accessed via a 6.5-inch 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 than we would like. The available MyLink interface, which allows smartphone radio app integration, features a clean layout and intuitive menu structure. Both on-screen and dash-mounted touch inputs are regularly slow to react, however, making the interface a bit frustrating. We're also not fond of the small buttons for some climate controls or 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, though they're really suited only for kids and smaller adults. As is invariably the case with three-row vehicles, rearward visibility is almost nonexistent when you have a full crew on board, so the standard rearview camera is a huge help.
The Traverse scores points for its 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 2014 Chevrolet Traverse delivers a smooth, confident and quiet highway ride. The V6 engine provides adequate performance, but lacks low-end punch during authoritative passing maneuvers at any speed. It can also sound harsh and unrefined under hard acceleration -- an indication of the considerable mass (nearly 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive) it's tasked to motivate. In addition, the automatic transmission can be slow to react when a quick downshift is needed or after the need has passed and the revs hang too long in that lower gear, though its gearchanges are at least smooth.
Driven around turns, this big crossover SUV feels more secure and planted than you would expect, and it maneuvers well in tight parking lots. The steering is reasonably accurate, though the dainty thin-rimmed steering wheel feels a little out of character in such a large vehicle. Although you certainly need to heed its generous dimensions, the remarkably satisfying Traverse is well suited to transporting people and cargo in abundance and comfort.