Expert Reviews

2024 Chevrolet Traverse First Drive Review

Deny it all you want, but three-row SUVs are the minivans of today.

They’re largely less efficient, and they don’t have as much space for people and cargo, but they look a lot cooler – or so the theory goes – and they aren’t dogged by the stigma surrounding vans. Perhaps it’s with that context in mind that designers penned the 2024 Chevrolet Traverse to look as truck-like as possible for a sport utility this size.

There’s also a new off-road trim, because of course there is. With the competition in the segment being as stiff as it is these days, and rivals from Nissan to Kia offering similarly rugged-ish versions of their own three-rows, Chevrolet is leaning into the brawn with this restyled SUV.

The Right Size

Chevrolet already had a hit with the Traverse, even if the sales figures didn’t necessarily reflect it. Long known for striking the right balance of size, features, and value, it was one of the biggest and most spacious vehicles in its class – although the interior felt cheap and old, and there wasn’t anything exciting about the way it looked.

The redesigned Traverse’s hood is longer, and the grille is larger and more upright. It’s also a bit wider and the roofline is a little lower, but it’s still about the same size as it was before. The new look was inspired by the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe and it shows, with similar shapes and proportions overall.

New Engine

The V6 of old is gone, with a turbocharged four-cylinder taking its place. The transmission is new, too, with an eight-speed automatic replacing the nine-speed of old.

Despite losing a pair of cylinders and a little more than a litre of displacement, output it up to 328 hp and 326 lb-ft (from 310 hp and 266 lb-ft before). Every version of the Traverse comes with a standard all-wheel drive system that can be turned off to increase efficiency.

The Traverse is a lot of vehicle, so the extra output is welcome; however, it’s still not a quick vehicle by any means. The new transmission delivers smoother shifts with less hesitation than the nine-speed it replaces, and the new engine is claimed to burn less gas. At 2,268 kg (5,000 lb), the maximum tow rating is the same as before.

First-Ever Z71

The rugged new Z71 trim is a first for the Traverse; and while Chevrolet admits it’s not a serious off-roader, it’s capable of travelling further off the beaten path than it could before. It also has a few upgrades worth mentioning, including 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, real aluminum and steel skid plates to protect vital underbody components, and a special front bumper that increases the approach angle.

There’s also a suspension lift of about 25 mm (1.0 in), Z71-specific dampers and suspension tuning, and an upgraded all-wheel drive system that can split drive torque individually between the rear wheels. Add special off-road drive modes to that list of extras, and the Traverse Z71 gets more than a bit more capability compared to the rest of the lineup.

The Top Trim

The Traverse RS now sits at the top of the lineup and trades the Z71’s chunky tires for black 22-inch wheels wrapped in lower-profile rubber. It also gets the obligatory blacked out trim, while the suspension has been tuned for sportier handling.

The RS comes standard with all the tech that’s available optionally on the entry-level LT and mid-grade Z71. A big one is Super Cruise, marking the first application of the hands-free highway driving technology for the Traverse.

The latest version of the system has been updated to include about 1.2 million kilometres of mapped highways across North America. That figure also includes smaller, undivided two-lane highways, although none of them were in Canada at the time of writing. General Motors (GM) assures us this capability is coming.

A comprehensive suite of the latest driver-assist and advanced safety features are standard across the board, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, road sign recognition, and more.

Upgraded Cabin

The Traverse is more refined and has a new digital-forward cabin that’s a big upgrade over the last one. All trims get a giant 17.7-inch central touchscreen and an 11-inch digital instrument display.

The infotainment system is Android-based, with built-in Google Maps and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The system is simple to use and responds quickly to inputs, while there are physical controls for the climate system. There’s also ample space to store stuff, with generous door pockets and a large centre console bin.

The LT comes standard as an eight-seater but can be optioned with captain’s chairs in the second row, turning it into a seven-seater at no extra cost. The Z71 and RS trims are only available in a seven-seat configuration.

No matter which setup you choose, the Traverse is one of the most spacious and comfortable vehicles in its class, including a third row that could easily accommodate three children or two adults.

Comfortable and Composed

Driving the Traverse is just as pleasant as sitting in it, with its quiet, well isolated ride and excellent visibility through its large greenhouse. The new engine feels more powerful than the V6, especially at lower speeds, but it runs out of steam quickly as the revs rise. The Z71, with its all-terrain tires and suspension lift, soaks up bumps and rough roads with ease but still allows you to carry some momentum in the corners – although a bit more heft to the steering would be welcome. Even the RS, with its sportier tire and wheel combo, retains an excellent ride.

An opportunity to take the Z71 through a mild off-road course demonstrated its ability to handle an unpaved cottage road or muddy trail without breaking a sweat. It certainly has more capability than it would likely be subjected to by the average owner.

Final Thoughts

The 2024 Chevrolet Traverse starts at $47,999, which represents excellent value for what you’re getting – especially in a category where interior space is paramount. The Traverse is one of the most spacious three-row SUVs on the market, and it’s now more refined with a vastly improved cabin.

At $53,999, the Traverse Z71 delivers serious value. It has the most comfortable ride, and a more advanced all-wheel drive system. It also gets the max towing package standard, and the off-road look suits this SUV’s size and proportions. Finally, the RS trim rings in at $62,899 and includes almost everything offered here as standard.

Regardless of trim, the Traverse remains one of the best choices in its class.