The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse belongs to a large family of two- and three-row SUVs bearing the plus-sign badge. Slightly smaller than the Tahoe and Suburban brutes, the Traverse calls the Trailblazer, Equinox, and Blazer close siblings. Whereas other nameplates focus on a variety of niches, the Traverse most directly targets families looking for a dependable hauler.
In this review, we’ll show you exactly what the 2021 Traverse is all about. We’ll start with what’s beneath the hood, talk about trimlines, and everything between the front and rear bumpers. After you’ve perused the specifics on safety and fuel economy, we’ll compare this SUV to others on the market. In the end, it’s up to you to make the final call. Is the Traverse right for your family?
The 2021 Traverse is powered by a single 3.6-liter V6 engine. It’s capable of 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, all paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The Traverse comes as a front-wheel drive SUV from the factory, but you can upgrade to all-wheel drive on almost every model. The base L trim is the one exception. The Traverse has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. This full-sized vehicle can also seat up to eight people.
Chevy sells the 2021 Traverse in the following colors. Which one is your favorite?
- Iridescent Pearl Tricoat
- Satin Steel Metallic
- Silver Ice Metallic
- Summit White
- Mosaic Black Metallic
- Black Cherry Metallic
- Graphite Metallic
- Cajun Red Tintcoat
Trimlines and Pricing
Starting at $29,800, the base Traverse rides on 18-inch wheels and includes standard equipment like automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, cloth seating, a second-row bench seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a seven-inch touchscreen. Bluetooth and a WiFi hotspot are included as well. Despite the lack of available four-wheel drive, the base Traverse is pretty good bang for your buck.
If you’re not interested in just the basics, choose the LS model in order to unlock many of the optional equipment features. Rear privacy glass comes on the LS model, along with the option to purchase the Traverse in all-wheel drive. A drive mode selector will also help you tackle any surface. This model starts at $32,900.
In addition to the features available on the LS model, LT Cloth models include foglights, roof rails, a power driver’s seat, captain’s chairs in the second row, and satellite radio. The LT Cloth will cost you at least $35,400.
Seating material isn’t the only difference between the LT Cloth and LT Leather models. Other upgrades include heated front seats, a power passenger’s seat, remote start, an eight-inch touchscreen, and a power liftgate. A few advanced safety features are thrown in as standard on this $39,100 version of the Traverse.
One of the special edition Traverse models, the RS includes standard equipment like 20-inch blacked-out wheels, more blacked-out trim pieces along the entire exterior, a heated steering wheel, leather seating, a ten-speaker Bose sound system, and plenty more. Navigation will keep you going where you want to be and a dual-exhaust announces you to everyone in the area. This model also comes with the Chevy Safety Assist suite of advanced safety features, including a surround view camera. The Traverse RS starts at $43,700.
Starting at $45,800, the Traverse Premier gets closer to true luxury. You’ll get LED headlights and a hands-free liftgate, but that’s just the start. You’ll also enjoy a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and the capability to charge devices wirelessly. You can also upgrade to the Redline Edition on this model, which includes red and black accents to set it apart.
This top-tier trim level includes a panoramic sunroof, a power-folding third-row seat, and trailering enhancements that make towing much easier. It also boasts 20″ aluminum wheels and power folding rear seats. This top-of-the-line Traverse model starts at $50,900.
The 2021 Traverse scored a “Good” rating in all Crashworthiness categories at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Similarly, it scored 5 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those are both excellent safety ratings.
Chevrolet equips the Traverse with a short list of standard safety equipment. That includes a rear-seat reminder, buckle up reminder, Teen Driver settings, and a rearview camera. The rearview mirror can actually toggle between two modes. It’s normally a traditional mirror facing the back of your vehicle. With the flip of a switch, though, it becomes a screen fed by a rear-facing camera mounted in the vehicle’s antenna housing.
In order to take advantage of technology like adaptive cruise control, a surround-view parking system, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert, you’ll unfortunately have to pay for higher trim levels.
The EPA reports the 2021 Traverse makes 18 city and 27 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG) when purchase as a front-wheel drive vehicle. Those numbers drop to 17 and 25 MPG when you purchase the all-wheel drive model. This is exactly where you’d expect to find a full-sized SUV with a V6 engine and room for eight people.
The 2021 Traverse competes with a large array of vehicles in its class. There’s the Infiniti QX50, Volvo XC60, Honda HR-V, Ford Explorer, Kia Telluride, and the Volkswagen Atlas, to name a few. The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot compete in this segment as well. This means stiff competition awaits the Traverse.
When considered in its own right, CarAndDriver says the 2021 Traverse “differentiates itself from its brothers by offering a more carlike driving experience.” Those “brothers” happen to be the Suburban and Tahoe, which are anything but carlike. However, the Traverse fits the crossover bill by offering four doors, available all-wheel drive, plenty of seating and cargo capacity, and a powerful engine capable of towing a few thousand pounds.
What Others Are Saying
Reviewers across the internet had a lot of positive things to say about the 2021 Traverse. CarAndDriver appreciated the “efficient V-6.” They also couldn’t believe that the “cabin is so quiet that you need to steal a glance at the tachometer to ensure the engine is running while at a stoplight.” That’s from the automatic start/stop feature many other reviewers took notice of as well.
The ample passenger room in all three rows was well-received by Edmunds. Reps from U.S. News found the infotainment system to be intuitive and the touch screen responsive. However, they mentioned “there are redundant buttons and knobs for some functions” in case you prefer tactile response.
Personal preference will likely determine which crossover SUV you choose out of this segment. There are a few characteristics you might not like about the 2021 Traverse, including the fact that you can’t turn off the start/stop system. Nearly every reviewing group we researched found that the 2021 Traverse wasn’t exactly “spry” either.
Despite the carlike experience, lots of body roll won’t make it a track fiend by any means. MotorTrend feels the 2021 Traverse “lacks polish,” saying “there’s excessive amounts of hard plastic on nearly every surface, even on higher trims.” Add to that the fact that most safety features are only available on these higher trims and you’re starting to see where the Traverse’s charismatic exterior starts to break down a little.
The Last Word
The 2021 Traverse seats up to eight passengers in a cabin that varies in accoutrements from plain cloth to souped-up leather, depending on which trim level you choose. The choice of models (and prices) should attract a variety of SUV seekers. Though it might not give you chills or thrills while racing down the highway, this Chevy aces the practicality test. Visit your local Chevrolet dealership to test drive the 2021 Traverse — or check out the rest of the golden bowtie lineup.