2014 Chevrolet Traverse Review

2014 Chevrolet Traverse - A comfortable alternative to the minivan


I very rarely have the opportunity to test a 7-passenger vehicle properly. Sure, I can move stuff, buy furniture or pick people up from O'Hare with large luggage. But actually putting 7 people in 7 seats is a rarity.

So, when the Ciminillo clan was all together at the holidays, I thought the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse would be the perfect test vehicle. But the big question: Would it be able to fit 7 adults (including one large fireman) and all their gadgets comfortably?

The short answer: Yes.

The longer answer: Yes, almost perfectly.

The even longer answer includes a caveat. We really liked the first- and second-row captain's chairs, and those 4 passengers were obviously the most comfortable. Plus, having the second row as captain's chairs made it easy for third-row passengers to climb in the way back without fussing with seats.

The third row for 3 adults, however, was definitely cramped. They fit, and it wasn't completely uncomfortable, but it was tight. My fiancé, who is average height, was one of the lucky ones in the back. He said that while he had plenty of leg room, the seat was a bit small for his butt. The other 2 adults in the back seat were petite females, and other than the stiffness of the seats, had no real complaints.

The cargo area with the third-row up isn't optimal, but 24.4 cubic-feet was plenty of space to hold my sister's rollerboard and large carry-on bag. With a little space leftover. To transport golf clubs, a rollerboard and 2 backpacks, which we did, the third-row seat must be down. Total cargo volume in the Traverse is 116.3 cubic-feet.

The test vehicle came equipped with the optional rear-seat entertainment ($1,445), which is quickly becoming obsolete. With the onslaught of smart phones, iPad minis and tablets galore, unless you have small children, who needs a built-in DVD anymore? With 7 of us in the car, excluding the driver, we had 2 iPhones, 1 computer, 1 iPad and 1 Android going at all times.

Considering the amount of battery drain going on while we were out and about, we loved the fact that there were a number of ways to plug in and charge. In the front, there was a USB port in a hidden dash compartment. In the back there were 2 charge-only USB ports and an honest-to-goodness plug. And, yes, there were times when every jack had a chord coming out of it.

The test vehicle was an up-level front-wheel drive LTZ model with a base price of $42,130. That includes features like push-button start, keyless entry, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, back-up camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated and cooled front seats, leather seating surfaces for first and second rows, rear park assist, remote start and a power rear liftgate.

Optional features included on the Traverse test car were navigation ($795), trailering equipment ($575), rear-seat entertainment ($1,445), power sunroof with second-row skylight ($1,400) and White Diamond Tricoat paint ($995). The as-tested price: $47,340. Base price for the Traverse LS model is: $30,795.

The only engine option in the Traverse is the 3.6-liter, V-6, which delivers 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque with a single exhaust (288/270 with a dual exhaust). This is actually plenty of power for a vehicle that weighs 4,646 pounds. While the Traverse moves a little faster when there is 1 person in the car versus 7, I didn't think that the power lacked in any way. It was certainly fast enough to merge with highway traffic.

Because this is a larger vehicle, you can't expect high mileage numbers with the Traverse. EPA estimates 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. In combined city/highway driving, EPA estimates 19 mpg. For the Ciminillo clan's test period, we had a lot of city driving and ended the week at 19.6 mpg.

One of the things I've always liked about the Traverse is that it drives small. For a 7-passenger vehicle, I didn't feel like I was driving a boat. It actually has more of a carlike feel, and it's very easy to maneuver on city streets as well as on the highway. I did appreciate the blind-spot monitoring and rear camera included on the LTZ model, though. They are great aids for driving such a large vehicle in tight spaces.

Additionally, the step-in height isn't too steep for children or older passengers. While it was a bit of a climb for my 70-year-old mother, she was able to use the hand-grips as a boost.

New for 2014, Traverse adds Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, which provide visual and audible cues to the driver if he is getting too close to the vehicle in front of him or moves out of a lane without using a turn signal. These features are standard at the LTZ model and available as an option on the LT models. The other new feature: The dual charge-only USB ports in the rear that my family loved (and used) so much.

Overall, I really like the Chevrolet Traverse. I think it's attractive and comfortable, and the ride is really smooth. And, because of the 7-seat capability and ease of access to the third row, this SUV is a viable alternative to the minivan. It's as easy to drive with 1 passenger as it is with 7.

Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers and the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. Jill is a syndicated automotive writer and acts as the managing editor for the Pickup Truck + SUV Talk website.