Steve Majoros, the marketing director for Chevrolet's cars and crossovers, told us before sliding behind the wheel of the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse that 50 percent of Traverse buyers don't even consider another vehicle.
That means, no matter what I say, about 50,000 people would still line up for one, no questions asked. According to my editor, this is not a good enough reason to skip writing this review.
But I want to write this review, because I genuinely believe Chevrolet has a hit on its hands. The 2018 Traverse offers an embarrassment of in-car tech, driving dynamics that aren't entirely stale and plenty of space across its three rows. In a world where crossovers are slowly eliminating everything in their path, this one's a good'un.
Three rows chock full of stuff to do
I will briefly address the 2018 Traverse's exterior: It is no longer hideous. Considering this is basic three-row family transportation, that's about all we need to discuss here.
The interior is also not hideous. It's actually pretty darn nice, with a fresh design that reminds me of other new Chevrolet models (mostly the Cruze) thanks to ample use of layering across the dash and door panels. It's nice in its $31,000 base trim, but things get properly fancy in the $53,000 Traverse High Country -- as things should, considering that price tag is bordering on ludicrous.
The MyLink infotainment screen also moves up to show off a secret hidey-hole, à la Corvette. It's best used for hiding goodies that the kids might otherwise find, but it's also good for hiding a phone in a place you can't readily access it.
The second row offers plenty of legroom for a 6-foot-tall person sitting behind another six-footer in the front row. The only qualm is that the lever for adjusting fore-aft position is a bit low and unintuitive. The story is the same for the third row -- my knees only barely brushed the back of the second row, and there was ample headroom.
With the third row up, there's still about two feet of usable cargo space between the seat back and the liftgate. That is both impressive on its own and great for big families on the go. All three rows have USB ports, so batteries won't die while streaming via the onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi, which, as always, works great.
The driver makes out OK, too
As for the driver, the seating position is plenty fine, and the A-pillars are thin enough to ensure that most of the drive time isn't spent waiting for the police after running over a pedestrian. Chevrolet is nice to think of things like that.
Start driving, and the 3.6-liter V6 is more than happy to provide 301 horsepower's worth of forward motion. It gets going in a hurry, but you might not even notice that the car is shifting gears. The Traverse's nine-speed automatic is butter-smooth, whether shifting up or down. The stop-start system performed admirably, with nary a shudder every time the car barked back to life at a stoplight.
As with every other car that's ever been built, the 2018 Traverse is stiffer than its forebear. But that only gives the car composure over bumps, rather than turning it into some sort of ersatz sports car. Combined with a suspension that lives on the softer side of Sears, it never feels like a jangly mess. Throw two rows' worth of kids and cargo in the back, and it's bound to be even comfier.
The steering is completely, entirely numb. It is devoid of feeling, like that weird goth kid from poetry class. But this is a car for families who care not about sharp driving dynamics. You turn the wheel with little effort, the car also turns, and that's good enough for most everyone.
The only major niggles from a driving standpoint are two glaring omissions. The seating position would be even better with adjustable pedals, which are not featured on the Traverse. The same goes for a head-up display -- you can get one on other new Chevrolet models, but not here. Shame, that.
Down to brass tacks
Even though I wholeheartedly believe that the Traverse High Country is not $20,000+ nicer than the base model, the whole lineup is quite good. The 2018 Chevy Traverse gives families what they want -- room for the kids to do whatever they want -- and it rewards every occupant with a solid ride and, from what I could tell, decent fuel economy.
I am sure Chevrolet will sell a boatload of Traverses, but according to Chevy's market research, they'll sell at least 50,000 of 'em no matter what.