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2021 Chevrolet Traverse Performance

#6 out of 22 in Midsize SUVs

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2021 Chevrolet Traverse Performance Review


Performance: 7.5

The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse offers a cushioned ride and composed handling, though it isn't as agile as many competitors. The V6 engine has enough power for just about all driving situations, but there are more exciting options in the class. The Traverse's fuel economy ratings are OK for a midsize SUV.

  • "The ride is top-notch, with tall-sidewall tires and a soft suspension soaking up bumps and impacts." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "Shifts feel, as the bard of Honolulu, Bruno Mars, put it, 'smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.' There's never the sense of constant gear shuffling that we've noticed in many other nine-speeds, and I never detected a moment's indecision when a change of mind about throttle position can result in the gearbox clunking into a gear it belatedly determined was best." -- Motor Trend (2018)
  • "Ride and handling, like the power, are average for the class. I was mostly comfortable, even after a few hundred miles of Michigan roads that occasionally resemble the cratered surface of the moon. The steering feel is as vacant as a dorm room in July. No one's home. Still, the suspension and steering did help the Traverse feel smaller than it actually is. It's big, but unlike the Ford Explorer, it doesn't feel like it." -- Autoblog (2018)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Engine: 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic

The Traverse’s engine never feels short on power, but with merely average acceleration, neither is it the most energetic in the class. The automatic transmission delivers smooth, timely shifts. The biggest downside to the powertrain is the gas-saving stop-start function, which cuts off the engine when you stop. It generally works smoothly, but it can't be disabled.

  • "One gripe we have with the Traverse is the lack of a button to disable the start/stop system. At stoplights, this system turns the engine [off] to save fuel and restarts when you take your foot off the brake pedal. It takes getting used to, and we'd at least like the option to turn it off with a button like on other new cars." -- Autotrader
  • "While the Traverse offers strong initial acceleration from its V6 engine, it's no speed demon, and overall it feels decidedly average. It took 7.1 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph in our testing, which is a little slow for the three-row SUV class. But the transmission's quick shifts are well-suited to low-speed city driving." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "For 2020, the Traverse only offers the 3.6-liter V6, but the loss of the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder formerly available on RS models is no significant detriment. The V6 has good power and works well with the standard 9-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)

MPG Estimates

According to EPA estimates, the Traverse earns 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with front-wheel drive. Those are typical ratings for the midsize SUV class. With all-wheel drive, ratings drop to 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Handling and Braking

Ride comfort is a strong suit of this Chevrolet, and the suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease. As you might expect, an SUV with the heft of the Traverse isn't the most agile vehicle on the road, and it can be a bit troublesome to maneuver in crowded spaces. However, it handles well enough that it isn't a chore to drive on winding roads, despite exhibiting some body lean. Front-wheel drive comes standard. All-wheel drive is available.

  • "When parking or maneuvering at low speed, the Traverse feels every bit its size. Pick up the pace, however, and the big Chevy handles like a much smaller vehicle – poised, if not overtly athletic. Steering effort is low, but the system is precise and makes aiming the big SUV easy. And the Traverse's suspension strikes a good balance between agility and ride comfort." -- Car and Driver
  • "Whether it's being used to drop off the brood at soccer practice, commute to work or ferry the family on a road trip, the Chevrolet Traverse is quite capable. Like nearly every other 3-row crossover SUV with the exception of maybe the Mazda CX-9, the Traverse isn't very spry, nor will you experience a whoosh of acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • " … the brakes have good stopping power despite a lack of pedal feel. Handling isn't the Traverse's strong suit, and there's moderate body roll in turns due to its size and soft suspension. Class rivals such as the Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 feel more composed. But the steering feels good, with plenty of assist at low, parking-lot speeds, and hefty weight at highway speeds." -- Edmunds (2020)
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