Drive: The Chevrolet 2021 Traverse is a ‘darned good car’

In a number of important respects, the Chevrolet Traverse beats its competitors hands down. It delivers more passenger room, more maximum cargo room and a smoother ride than most competitors in the midsize-SUV sector. Its fuel-economy rating, though not first in the segment, is well within the acceptable range. The Chevrolet bow-tie logo promises a high comfort level for American motorists, along with a massive dealer network.

The Traverse is also a darned good car - easy to live with and full of convenience features

We've been fans of the Traverse and its GMC cousin, the Acadia, ever since they replaced the body-on-frame TrailBlazer and Envoy during the 2009 model year. (The TrailBlazer is not to be confused with the Trailblazer, a compact SUV introduced this year.) General Motors continued to offer truck-framed SUVs, but the midsize and compact models had unibody construction, and therefore provided a smoother, more car-like ride and handling. The Traverse and Acadia are not as off-road-capable as the full-sized Tahoe and Yukon, however.

The Traverse given to us for a week-long test drive was a top-of-the-line RS model with all-wheel drive. The base Traverse L starts at $30,995, and comes with front-wheel drive, 310-horsepower V-6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission. It's rated at 18 mpg city, 27 highway. Our Traverse RS, with all-wheel drive, had the same 310-horsepower V-6 and automatic gearbox, and its fuel economy was 17/25. It was base-priced at $45,800 and carried a sticker price of $51,030.

Our Traverse therefore cost about $2,300 more than than the 2021 Kia Telluride we test-drove recently. We felt the Kia was more lavishly equipped than the Traverse and was, in general, more refined. But it had somewhat less luggage and cargo room and a slightly lower fuel-economy rating on the highway.

Among the Traverse RS's many standard features are a navigation system, 8-inch color touchscreen, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bose premium sound system, satellite radio, leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, power liftgate and remote start.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse AWD RS

Price: $51,030

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6, 310 horsepower, 266 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 4,362 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Ground clearance: 8 in.

Wheels: 20-in. Dark Android Painted Aluminum

Tires: P255/55R20 all-season

Seating capacity: 7

Luggage capacity: 23 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 98.2 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 5,000 lb.

Fuel capacity: 21.7 gal.

Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Our Traverse had second-row captain's chairs, so it seated just seven - realistically, six, given the limits of the third-row bench seat. Knee room and head room in the second row are ample. The captain's chairs fold down easily and slide forward a bit to make room for a flat cargo deck with the third-row seat folded down. Adding to the car's cargo-carrying capability is a substantial hidden tray under the rear deck.

Some buyers might not favor Chevrolet's approach to optional equipment: that is, some desirable features are not available on lower trim levels. That means some people will have to pay extra for features they don't want in order to get those they do want.

The Traverse received a 5-star overall rating in government crash tests.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.