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The Globe and Mail

GM ups its game with redesigned Chevrolet Traverse

If you have a largish family but won’t be caught dead in a minivan, a three-row SUV is your only practical choice.

The leaders of the mid-size SUV pack are the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento and the more expensive Jeep Grand Cherokee. GM’s bread-and-butter badge is looking to take some of those sales away with its redesigned Chevrolet Traverse, unveiled Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Having a competitive model in the mid-size segment is important in a market preoccupied with SUVs and crossovers. Witness GM debuting two SUVs at this year’s Detroit show; the Traverse and smaller GMC Terrain, which was revealed Sunday, the day before the show’s press previews began.

Alan Batey, GM North America president, reveals the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country SUV at the 2017 North American International Auto Show on Jan. 9, 2017 in Detroit. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

GM North America president Alan Batey, also Chevy’s global brand chief, said the mid-size SUV segment is worth a million vehicles a year, “so it’s a huge opportunity for us.”

Chevy says the 2018 Traverse, which goes on sale this fall, will feature best-in-class third-row legroom, generous cargo space and seating for up to eight-passengers. In addition, the Traverse will tow up to 2,268 kilograms.

Features include a new split-folding second-row seat with Traverse’s Smart Slide feature, allowing the curbside seat to tip up and slide forward to ease access to the third row.

The power-operated lift gate includes foot activation if your hands are full and a lamp projects the Chevy bow-tie logo to show where you should place your foot.

The Traverse’s standard engine is a new 3.6-litre V-6 engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission estimated to produce 305 horsepower, 10 per cent more than the current model, and 260 lb-ft of torque. The front-drive version has claimed fuel consumption of 13.1 and 9.4 litres/100 km city-highway respectively.

Customers opting for the RS trim level will get a 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoTec four-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower, but bettering the six-cylinder’s torque with 295 lb-ft.

Batey said there are no plans for a hybrid or battery-electric version of the Traverse, but defended GM as a leader in vehicle electrification.

“Look at what we’ve done with the Chevy Volt, look at what we’ve just announced with the Bolt EV, look at what we’ve done with the Malibu Hybrid,” he said. “So nobody’s doing more.”

The Traverse also boasts a new Traction Mode Select feature on all models that allows the driver to adjust driving models in real time as road conditions change. Models with optional all-wheel drive allow the selector to disconnect the rear axle to improve fuel economy.

The newly introduced High Country trim level uses an advanced AWD system with twin-clutch technology to optimize traction in all conditions.

Passenger conveniences include available seven- and eight-inch infotainment systems that support both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with optional OnStar 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. Passengers get USB charging ports in all three rows, with available wireless charging.

The new Traverse. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

Electronic safety features include LED headlamps on High Country and Premier trim levels, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, front braking for pedestrians, forward collision alert and low- and high-speed automatic braking.

And all Traverses get Teen Driver, which allows parents to restrict vehicle performance and also review how their offspring have been driving.

Pricing won’t be known until closer to the 2018 Traverse’s arrival at dealerships, but 2017 asking prices start about $34,600.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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