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First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse [Review]

A thorough facelift keeps Chevy\'s popular full-size crossover fresh.

According to some Hollywood starlets, it is never too soon for a facelift.

Now into the fifth year of production, the 2013 Chevrolet Traverse has undergone a session under the knife, with the results transforming it into one of the nicer looking large crossover vehicles in the business.

And then there were three

Originally part of a quad of crossovers based on GM's Lambda platform, the Traverse was the last to join the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook (which died in 2010) on the market. With a capacity of up to eight passengers and their stuff, these vehicles ride as high as most SUVs but were not built to be as stout as a body-on-frame Chevrolet Suburban. Instead, think of them as a minivan that didn't look like a minivan.

With over 400,000 sold globally since 2009, the Traverse, along with the similarly new Chevrolet Impala, debuts the new face of the brand.

Featured prominently, it's the three-bar, chevron-styled bowtie grille that will start to work its way through the rest of the lineup in the ensuing years. The Traverse even gets a bit of a butt-lift with new taillamps and license plate pocket.

The Lansing, Michigan-built Traverse will again be offered in LS, LT (with 1LT and 2LT packages) and top-of-the-line LTZ configurations. From a competitive standpoint, the Traverse will be cross-shopped by the likes of those looking at vehicles like the Ford Flex, Mazda's CX-9, the Dodge Durango andthe Ford Explorer.

In addition to the new grille, the Traverse is now equipped with the industry's only front-center mounted airbag (Buick and GMC get the same safety tech) and it offers Chevrolet's available MyLink system and its 6.5-inch monitor. Navigation is a further option on top of the MyLink infotainment system. A newly refined interior covered with dark grey leather almost had us thinking we were in the Buick. It's a dramatic improvement over the outgoing Traverse's unimpressive inner trappings.

With its two-three-three seating arrangement, the Traverse can handle up to eight passengers including a claimed three adults in the way back. Two mid-row captain's chairs are on offer for buyers who don't place as much emphasis on people-hauling. Chevrolet claims class leading cargo capacity that varies from 24.4 cubic feet behind the third row seating up to 116.3 cubic feet behind the front row.

The Traverse is complete with two flavors of a carryover 3.6-liter, direct-injection V6 engine. Order the LS or LT and the mill produces 281 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, owing to a single-pipe exhaust system. Our LTZ front-wheel-drive tester featured a twin-pipe system, which ups power to 288 ponies at 6,300 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque at 3,400. Although we were not in the vehicle long enough for a fuel mileage check, Chevrolet claims mileage of 17/24 mpg and an average of 20 mpg.

Acceleration from both versions of the 3.6-liter engine provided plenty of pep regardless of road conditions for a vehicle that weighs in at a staggering 4,713 lbs. for the FWD version and 4,956 pounds for the four-wheeler.

We found the steering to be a bit overly boosted and a touch lighter than the last Enclave we drove, but the Traverse remains commendably nimble and composed for such a big crossover.

The field has gotten more competitive, but this refreshed crossover remains a serious player.

Leftlane's bottom line

The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse continues to get better with age. Constant refinements improve the performance, ride and accoutrements throughout, to the point that we actually felt we were in the Traverse's pricier Buick cousin.

Though certain aspects of the Traverse show their age, this mid-cycle update should be thorough enough to keep buyers coming.

2013 Chevrolet Traverse base price, $30,340.

Words and photos by Mark Elias.

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