The first long road trip with your first child is extremely daunting. Baby-related needs dictate a different kind of packing and need for space you once didn’t require. There’s a reason so many people buy a big SUV once they have a kid, and it’s not just perceived safety. Space quickly disappears, and you’ll never know when you’ll need a makeshift changing table. For our first long adventure after having our first, we loaded up a 2022 Chevy Traverse RS AWD and hit the road.
CUVs have come a long way…
Space and comfort are two things you can never have enough of on a long road trip. Decent fuel economy doesn’t hurt, and all-wheel-drive capability goes a long way in providing confidence. The last fifteen years have seen dozens of entrants into the midsize/large crossover segment, with only small differentiators.
The nuances were even harder to discern when a trio of the sort comes from the same parent company. Back in 2008, GM launched its CUV triplets. Not to be confused with the SUV triplets (Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade), the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook arrived as lower-priced, unibody three-row family haulers. My mom had an early Saturn Outlook. It was fine at first, though over time, the cheapness shone through. The first-gen Lambda platform vehicles always felt built to a price lower than the budget even dictated. Let’s not forget that Saturn is long since dead for a reason.
…at least in some regards
Thirteen years later, the Traverse-headlined models are in their second generation, now on the C1XX platform. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine or, like our tester, a 3.6-liter V6. The latter makes 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a 9-speed transmission and either front- or all-wheel-drive.
There’s something to say for a vehicle that makes its worth by being gimmick-free. That’s exactly what the Traverse is about. It’s a true family hauler with a focus on space, comfort, and simplicity. The RS package is frilly, but otherwise, the Traverse is a good, functional car. Most importantly, space is copious. Captains’ chairs in the second row freed up room even more, and we had more than enough room for all of our stuff, our kid’s stuff, and a weekend’s worth of ATVing gear.
Road trip time
The Traverse served sufficiently comfortably when pulling long stints behind the wheel. It was easy enough to run multiple hours without stopping for a break to get gas or change a diaper. Mid-tier crossovers can easily falter when comfort comes into play, with the main focus being functionality, and the Traverse fares well here. Only my own overly sensitive spine noticed the slight lack of driver seat adjustability and leg support.
In almost 750 miles of driving, the Traverse proved comfortable, easy to use, and fuss-free. Wireless Apple Carplay and an intuitive infotainment system kept toggling between music and directions easy. Insulation from wind and road noise is on par with the segment norm. The same can be said of the ride quality.
We would have liked more power from the engine and/or forced induction, but that’s a minor complaint. Only in the hills of New Hampshire did the power prove lackluster. Occasionally maintaining highway speeds required digging deep into the gas pedal. Long uphills are best taken with some pre-ascent added speed. We also wish the transmission was more willing to cooperate. The 9-speed automatic is invisible for the most part but doled out a smattering of shifts that were borderline uncomfortable. There’s no hiding that this is a decidedly un-sporty vehicle.
Outfitted in the way our test vehicle was, our biggest complaint with the Traverse lies in the price. Three-row SUVs and CUVs span the range of roughly $30k to deep in the triple digits, and the Traverse seen here costs $50,235. We always say on Off the Road Again that $50k is the new $30k, but at this price, a variety of options feel more special and more premium while offering equal usability. The Kia Telluride comes to mind, as does a low-option Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
The 2022 Chevrolet Traverse is a fully sufficient option for those in the market for a vehicle of this sort. It checks the boxes; that’s where it starts and ends. It’s not sporty, and it’s not particularly premium, but it’s good at being a crossover and getting you and your loved ones from place to place. Whether that’s around town or to remote mountains in the middle of nowhere is up to you, and our testing tells us that regardless of adventure, the Traverse is up for it.