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The humble minivan has a surprisingly intriguing history. When the Plymouth Voyager debuted in the mid-1980s, minivans became the top choice for families needing third-row seating. However, around the mid-2000s, some of the world’s biggest automakers dropped out of the segment to focus on SUVs. One of those auto giants was General Motors.

The Uplander was Chevy’s last attempt at a minivan

A maroon 2007 chevrolet uplander minivan
2007 Chevy Uplander | Chevrolet

GM’s final attempt at a minivan was the Chevrolet Uplander. It had a limited production run from model years 2005 to 2008 (it made it to the 2009 model year in Canada and Mexico). It replaced the Chevy Venture, a mainstream minivan with car-like architecture, and the Chevy Astro, a more truck-like van available as a commercial cargo van. Like the Astro, the Uplander also had commercial applications — you might have seen some as mail trucks.

The last Chevy minivan had several cousins in the General Motors family, including the Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza, and Pontiac Montana SV6. The Uplander was one last Hail Mary for GM minivans. Unfortunately, it had the same problem GM minivans always seemed to have. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t as good as its top rivals, namely the Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, and Honda Odyssey.

The only thing that made the Chevy Uplander stand out was its somewhat SUV-like styling. The body was a bit boxy with rounded edges and had a longer, flatter hood than most competitors. However, nobody was buying that it was an SUV. At the end of the day, it was just a plain-looking minivan that failed to dazzle consumers.

From the ashes of the Uplander, the Chevy Traverse rose

2009 Chevy Traverse debut
The 2009 Chevy Traverse debuts at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show | Scott Olson/Getty Images

When GM discontinued its Chevy minivan, the auto giant didn’t replace the Uplander with another minivan. Instead, the Chevrolet Traverse was born. A midsize SUV with three-row seating, the Traverse filled the void the Uplander left. GM saw where the market was trending — away from minivans and toward car-like SUVs. The Traverse gave families a choice between the truck-like Tahoe and Suburban and the crossover Traverse.

The Chevy Traverse debuted in 2008 for the 2009 model year. It gleaned inspiration from the Sequel concept from 2005 and borrowed styling cues from the Malibu sedan. Like the Uplander, the Traverse had several GM stablemates. The Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook were other SUVs riding on the same platform. GM still makes the Acadia, Enclave, and Traverse today.

The Chevy Traverse has carved out a nice niche for itself

The Chevy Traverse has positioned itself in a way the Uplander never did. Chevrolet’s three-row midsize SUV stands out as one of the roomiest in its segment. It’s up there with the Volkswagen Atlas and Toyota Grand Highlander for best-in-class third-row legroom. In other words, the Traverse is an SUV with minivan practicality.

Furthermore, a facelift has made the 2024 model even better. Chevrolet gave the new Traverse a more rugged aesthetic, a new off-road-ready Z71 trim, and updated technology to keep it competitive. For families that reject minivans, the Chevy Traverse is a solid choice.