The Traverse remains one of the most spacious, passenger-friendly vehicles on the market, and it's a great choice for those who have disowned minivans. The Traverse's primary mission is people-moving, so GM has made the most of the seating space. Over three rows, there's space for up to eight occupants, with the seats divided into two front buckets and two 60/40-split benches. Bench or captain's chair arrangements are offered in the second row; we'd opt for the bench as the individual seats aren't much more comfortable.
The 2016 Chevrolet Traverse is a large crossover that’s nearly as roomy as the truck-based Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, but it offers friendlier driving traits thanks to its car-like platform.
There are a few weakness of the Traverse compared to minivans. First, the doors open wider than sliding side doors. Second, its cargo floor is a bit high and not as easy-loading. And third, even though it has 117.5 cubic feet of space with the second- and third-row seats folded down, that's about 30 cubic feet less than a minivan.
Three trim levels of the 2016 Traverse are offered: LS, LT, and LTZ. Top LTZ models are really luxury models if you go by features, while LS trims are no-fuss (albeit well-equipped) family vehicles. All Traverse models get the Chevrolet MyLink system, which includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, enabling smartphone integration as well as streaming of Pandora and Stitcher internet-based radio. For 2016, the Traverse added 4G LTE connectivity that can provide a wi-fi hotspot.
Safety is an important consideration for families, and the Traverse has scored well on crash tests. Together with the closely related Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, it's one of the first vehicles on the market to offer a front center side airbag. Otherwise, standard safety features include parking sensors, a rearview camera system, hill start assist (to help you start safety on a steep incline), and head-curtain side bags with rollover mitigation technology. On LTZ models, the Traverse includes blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert—all features that may help you avoid an accident completely.
Although it might build on some of the styling cues of GM truck-type SUVs, the Traverse is essentially a tall station wagon. For today's biggest families, who are concerned about image and features, yet also space, comfort, and safety, the Traverse adds up to a very smart pick. The design has seen very little change since its original introduction in 2009. Although the face is attractive and familiar, we're more found of the Camaro-influenced taillights, which break through a factory-farm of same-as crossover designs. Inside, the Traverse is nothing exciting, but it's very functional, and it is highlighted by wood and silver accents, some contrast stitching, and ambient lighting, as well as a fair share of soft-touch materials.
Don't expect the 2016 Traverse to feel all that quick or agile, but it's quick enough for family use, the handling is controlled, and the ride is smooth. At about 5,000 pounds, the Traverse is a very heavy vehicle, and it does little from behind the wheel to mask that. The smooth 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 is rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission; this duo needs to work hard up highway grades or from a standing start. That said, it can tow up to 5,200 pounds. You can get either front- or all-wheel-drive, but AWD versions are a little more sluggish.
The Traverse carries ratings by the EPA of 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined with front-wheel drive, or 16/23/19 mpg with all-wheel drive. Those ratings land it dead center among three-row vehicles.