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Chevy Traverse excels in large crossover class

| Friday, June 6, 2014, 9:47 p.m.

Chevrolet's big, eight-passenger crossover, the Traverse, enters its sixth year, having received some exterior styling tweaks, interior enhancements and new technology last year, designed to make a great vehicle even better.

Prices for 2014 begin at $30,795 for the base LS model with front-wheel drive, and run as high as $43,255 for the LTZ with all-wheel drive.

Arguably one of the best of its class, the Traverse is an eight-passenger large crossover with lots of room for the family and their stuff.

Changes last year brought a more-athletic exterior design, which included a new power-dome hood, horizontal grille, headlights, chrome accents and sculpted front corners. The changes were intended to make the Traverse look more like other Chevrolet car models.

In the middle of the dash is a standard touch-control radio with a 6.5-inch color screen, with the addition of the optional MyLink infotainment system, which is available with or without navigation.

There are larger controls for the heating and air conditioning system, and front seats have headrests that can be adjusted forward and backward along with up and down. This allowed finding a comfortable position that kept the headrest from being an annoyance.

The front passenger seat has eight-way power adjustment, and there is wood trim standard on the midlevel LT and top-end LTZ models. Three interior colors are offered, with cloth on lower grades and leather on the LTZ model we tested.

Built on a car-style unibody structure, unlike traditional SUVs that are on a truck chassis, the Traverse is one of a trio of large crossovers from General Motors that share the same architecture. The others are the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all models are available with either seven- or eight-passenger seating, and front- or all-wheel drive.

To make the Traverse one of the roomiest of the crossover vehicles, the wheels were moved as close to the four corners as possible.

Body fit and finish, including gaps between body panels, were designed to be comparable with those of premium sedans from Lexus and BMW. Wind tunnel testing helped give the vehicle a sleek exterior, with a 0.33 coefficient of drag, an important design aspect in achieving the best possible fuel economy.

The Traverse comes with GM's OnStar satellite-based communications system, which reports automatically to an OnStar operator if the vehicle is involved in an accident. During routine driving, the OnStar system provides such features as turn-by-turn navigation and directions to restaurants, hotels or other points of interest.

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