Chevrolet Traverse is larger than the midsize SUVs, more closely matching the full-size SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, in overall size. Traverse rides on a 119-inch wheelbase and measures about 205 inches in overall length. Traverse weighs more than the midsize SUVs but nearly 600 pounds less than a Tahoe. That's a big difference, and less weight means better fuel economy, handling and braking.
Despite its two-and-a-half ton curb weight, the Traverse is surprisingly nimble. It handles more like a family sedan than like a Tahoe. While the steering is somewhat light, it is direct and responsive, not flaccid and slow like in the Tahoe, Yukon and Suburban.
The ride is comfortable and stable. The Traverse lacks the floppiness and bounding common in truck-based SUVs. It does not pound over bumps, even with the available 20-inch wheels. The brakes are easy to modulate and provide worry-free emergency stops.
Still, the Traverse sits fairly high and weighs a lot, so occupants notice some head toss in turns and the highway ride is less stable than in a family sedan or a smaller, sportier crossover. The overall size also makes it somewhat bulky in parking lot and parallel parking maneuvers.
Power comes from GM's dual-overhead cam 3.6-liter V6, which makes 281 horsepower. In the LTZ, the engine has dual exhausts, which raises output to 288 horsepower. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the V6 motivates the Traverse quite ably. Throttle response is predictable and smooth. Shifts are also smooth, but the transmission is sometimes too willing to shift to the next gear, leaving you wanting more power when you need it for passing or hills.
The 3.6-liter V6 also provides better fuel economy than you'll get in most truck-based SUVs. EPA fuel economy ratings for front-drive models are 17 mpg City and 24 Highway. With all-wheel drive, those numbers drop to 16/23 mpg.
Towing capacity is 5,200 pounds, which means light boats, personal watercraft. Truck-based SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, or Toyota Sequoia can tow 7,000 to 9,000 pounds, making them better for towing bigger boats, heavier car trailers and enclosed trailers. Given the Traverse's pleasant road manners and efficient use of interior space, the extra towing capacity is the main reason to buy one of those larger truck-based alternatives.