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Detroit Auto Show 2018
In Detroit: Digging deep on the new Chevy Traverse with Kathleen MurawskiThe marketing manager for the new Traverse joins us in Detroit to walk through all the details.
Welcome back to live coverage from the 2017 North American International Auto Show here in Detroit from Road Show's live stage. I'm Tim Stevens, Editor In Chief of Road Show and joining me now is Kathleen Murowski, who's Marketing Manager for the new Chevy Traverse, which is one of the big unveils we've seen here at the show. Welcome to the Road Show booth. And I said big, I meant that literally and figuratively. This is a larger- Right. SUV than we've seen in the past. Three rows now, growing a little bit to accommodate that. And one of the big things we're talking about much rear leg room there is, 33.7 inches, is that right? Yeah, and actually we're gonna have best in class Third row leg room. We're gonna have best in class cargo volume and best in class passenger volumes. So overall, the vehicle is as spacious as it is today, but it is a little bit bigger. And how important is that third row in this category, in having the room for extra kids, extra Tech that they're talking about. [LAUGH] It's super important Tim. I mean our typical demographic carries kids, cargo, additional people and we do have up to eight seating which hands down beats Ford Explorer, the Nissan Pathfinder and the Grand Cherokee. So, it is very important for active families and active people, so that they have all the space that they need. Size and room is of course important, but also economy is important, too, What kind of fuel economy should we expect from the new Traverse? As we're talking, it's getting bigger, presumably, is it getting heavier as well? Or is it not? It's interesting that you ask, because it's almost 400 pounds lighter. Lighter? Wow. So even though it's getting a little bigger, it is almost 400 pounds Essentially good. Lighter, it is. And we do have better fuel economy with our standard 3.6 liter V6, we have 25 MPGs GM estimated highway, which is better than we have today, we also have Self Start Technology, which saves on fuel as you're idling. And so, again, overall, a big fuel efficiency story. You'll also be building to disconnect the rear driver line, as well, right? Will [UNKNOWN] have an all wheel drive version? That is true, we have a traction mode select switch, which based on the driving conditions, if you do a four wheel drive, you can put it in normal Snow. Off road and then tow haul depending again on the configuration of your vehicle. And so it seems like a bit of a magic trick to grow a car and make it bigger, yet also make it lighter. We seen that, the Malibu did that for example, and a few other Chevy cars as well. What sort of engineering is involved to make that happen high So it's [UNKNOWN] and some other things like that? That's exactly what it is. It's the steel. And we look at, we look at all different variations of things that we use within the vehicle to make it more fuel efficient. Whether it's that or getting rid of certain things that maybe are unnecessary in the vehicle. So that's what we did going forward. Certain things like? Certain things like in our Equinox we actually had removed the ability to slide the seats back and forth. So just that overall we put it in the rear leg configuration. And [UNKNOWN] max cargo, or the max leg room. And so we're able to save [UNKNOWN] there. But You know, just looking at little things like you know, seating and seats and things like that. Now, there are a few different trims of the Traverse. Can you walk me through the basic broad categories for the truck? Sure can. We actually have the standard. What we have is LS. LT and premiere trims, we have those currently, and then big news is the new RS model, and the High Country model. With theses models we feel that we give customers more choice. And the RS model is a fabulous new, aggressive, and sporty look It's teamed up with a 2.0-liter turbo engine and which gives it that fun to drive experience. And then black out. All blacked out, black grill, black bowtie, we've got black 20-inch wheels. Black around the windows. So it really, again, gives it that aggressiveness in a different look Which could attract some new Traverse owners because of that different look. Then we have high country and the high country model is actually out on the floor today and it's luxury, it's all about luxury. We do have on the exterior a unique grill to the high country model. We have You know, the high country badges on the sides and the rear. We've got high country stitching inside the fabulous loft brown interior, which is standard, with suede accents. So, it really does take it a step up, and on that model we do have the advanced Twin clutch system, which actually takes the, if you're in all wheel drive mode, and you are driving, it will [UNKNOWN] send to work to the rear wheel that has the most traction. So it's active torque vectoring in a big SUV which is interesting. It's great. We see that on sports cars to enable better handling. Is that the intent in this as well to enable better cornering and on road handling? Yeah, ride and handling is one of the things that we focus on in this vehicle as well. With the longer wheel base too provides that. So we did look definitely at that when we were developing this vehicle. So this front wheel drive, all wheel drive and all wheel drive with this extra rear differential that gives torque vectoring, right? Correct. And so the RS though, is that for all drive, did I read? The RS is but then it has the all wheel drive option. It is an option. Yeah, you can configure the vehicle. You can do whatever you want to it. Yeah. And if you get high country, it sounds like you always know exactly what you're driving because it's->> You do, it's loaded, the high country is a completely loaded. And so talk about fuel economy. You said you can get up to 25 miles per gallon. Is that important in this segment as well? Or with gas being so cheap, do people even care about that anymore? Well, I still think we need to fuel at fuel economy because everyone wants to save a little money at the pump. So we're always looking at ways to be more fuel efficient. Even people in this category look at ways to budget. Everybody looks at ways to budget and save money. So I think that fuel economy has still a place In the segment and you never know what happens with gas prices. They sure do fluctuate. I think we know what's gonna happen with gas prices. The only question is [LAUGH] when that's gonna happen at that this point. So, yep. But assuming that does happen, assuming gas prices do go up, do you see this as being a segment that will continue to live on? Will technology progress enough to enable these cars? Still be affordable to drive and people will they still be interested in them even if gas prices go up significantly over the next few years? Well I think so because if you look at where we've gone, you know, the automotive industry has kind of migrated a little bit from cars more to the SUV segment. SUVs, crossovers are hot right now. And realistically I don't really see that, in the foreseeable future, taking any sort of decline. If we do we might become more of a steady state, but crossovers and SUVs are our hot segment. We were up Chevrolet was up in cross-overs 33% in December. Which is spot on, we're doing really well. And with these new models, with the new Equinox and new Traverse, I really Can't see that it's going anywhere soon. And let's talk about opportunities for electrification in this category. Chevy is very progressive when it comes to the Volt and now the Volt of course, Volt which is our car of the year, so presumably this could be a good application for that. Get extra torque, you get better ride quality and better fuel economy as well. Right, and I mean I'm sure that our engineers and developers are doing research, and that's what it all kind of goes back to as what customers want, right. And expectations and innovation. And so Chevrolet is at the forefront of all of that, and so I mean if there's a need and if there's a want, I'm I'm sure that we would be going in that direction. Do you think consumers would want that? Would they pay extra for it I guess is the question? I guess that is the question. We have gone, in the equinox, we have a diesel, which actually brings you GMS maybe 40MPGs, so I mean we obviously Chevy as a brand Is looking to in with the bold. I mean, we're looking at ways to help people in different aspects be more fuel efficient, so of course, I'm sure we would then look at That need as it comes about. And you mentioned diesel in the Equinox. We're seeing Ford bring diesel to the F-150, but we're sitting not far from the Volkswagen, I must say which has had a little bit of the rough row with diesel. Do you think that the diesel market in the US for the consumer vehicles is still strong? Obviously on large trucks and doing things like that [UNKNOWN] makes sense. Would that make sense in a future Traverse? It might make sense, we'll have to see where the market takes it. Again, just like a lot of [UNKNOWN]. We'll see where the market takes us, and where the consumers want and need, where everything all transitions overall. Electrification, autonomous driving, I mean all of that is kind of right at the forefront. Absolutely, and we're seeing a lot of that great technology here on the floor show. And it's really great seeing [UNKNOWN] it looks great. We'll be continuing on with some of the [UNKNOWN] we've seen in the Malibu and a bunch of other cars as well. Good to look for. Thank you very much, Kathleen for joining us on the show floor.