The 2020 Chevy Traverse Dominated Consumer Reports’ Road Test

The 2020 Chevrolet Traverse is a midsize family SUV with a starting price of $29,800. But in an unexpected turn, this SUV flat-out aced Consumer Reports’ road test despite having a middling overall score. Read on to find out why the Chevy Traverse did so well in this test and also what factors affected its overall CR score.

How the Chevy Traverse performed in Consumer Reports’ road test

Reviewers at Consumer Reports felt that the Chevy Traverse could hold its own against popular rivals such as the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. They also thought that the Traverse offered a reasonable alternative to its larger sibling, the full-size Chevy Suburban.

CR reviewers first tested the Traverse’s acceleration, for which it scored a four out of five. CR testers liked its standard 305-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine that is matched with a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission. Its fuel economy at 20 mpg overall was on par with other vehicles in its class.

This responsive engine produced excellent results on CR’s speed runs. For the 0 to 60 mph sprint, the Chevy SUV clocked a very brisk 7.3 seconds—the quickest in this segment. It also ran at 15.7 seconds at 93 mph in the quarter-mile.

Handling was another characteristic that the testers preferred in the Traverse over its competitors. It cornered surprisingly well for an eight-passenger SUV. On the track, the Traverse’s grip on the curves broke away gradually and predictably.

The SUV also received a respectable three out of five in emergency handling. Testers measured 51 mph in the avoidance maneuver, which simulates how fast a vehicle can safely swerve around an obstacle to avoid it.

It also excelled in CR’s braking test, earning a five out of five rating. Its braking distance from 60 to 0 mph on the dry pavement was 130 feet. On wet pavement, it measured 136 feet. Although the new Kia Telluride and the Ford Edge tested somewhat better in this segment, the slightly heavier Traverse still earned an admirable score.

For Consumer Reports’ road test, the Chevy Traverse scored an amazing 95. By comparison, its corporate cousins the Buick Enclave scored an 87 and the GMC Acadia an 83.

Other features the CR testers liked

Testers also liked the generous visibility that the Chevy Traverse’s tall windows provided. The SUV was easy to back up, thanks to an optional 360-degree camera besides the standard rearview camera.

Its roomy interior with ample third-row seating was a plus according to the testers. They gave the SUV good scores for a comfortable ride and supportive seats. Also, they appreciated its intuitive infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth capability, available 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and six USB ports throughout the cabin.

The CR testers noted that General Motors’ teen driver system came standard on the Traverse. The system tracks driving behavior data and automatically turns on available active safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic braking, and blind-spot warning. Testers did point that the Traverse’s modern safety features are available only on upper trims.

The Traverse also features a reminder system that alerts the driver to check the rear seat so as to not leave a child behind. This system, the testers felt, added more family-friendly safety to the SUV.

Why was the Chevy Traverse’s overall score so low?

2018 Chevrolet Traverse is on display at the 110th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place
The Chevrolet Traverse | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Chevy Traverse earned a four out of five for owner satisfaction. But reliability seems to be a chronic issue for this SUV, and its low predicted reliability score of one out of five pulled down its overall score. 

What’s more, its overall reliability verdict for 2019 ranked as “worse”. Despite having the worst possible score, the vehicle had no potential trouble spots that ranked as low.

More revealing was CR’s new model comparison for overall reliability over the newest three years. On a scale from 0 to 100 percent, the Chevy Traverse came in at the second from the bottom at 18 percent, with only the Volkswagen Atlas at 13 percent below it.

Engine reliability, in particular, dogged the Traverse in the first few years after it was introduced in 2009. It underwent a redesign in the 2018 model year. It’s hard to say if the redesign helped or hurt this year’s model where reliability is concerned.

Besides the Chevy SUV’s reliability issues, it lost some points in CR’s safety category. Testers wanted the Traverse to come standard with more advanced safety systems. They also weren’t happy that the child seat anchors were not as secure as they should have been.

And although NHTSA gave the Traverse a five-star rating, its recall for a crack in the frame rail probably affected this SUV’s overall rating. This defect reduces crash protection and could cause injury. 

The IIHS also gave the Traverse good evaluations in the front moderate overlap and side crash tests. But other crash tests haven’t been performed yet.

Consumer Reports testers’ final word on the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse was that it was an unexpectedly accomplished performer in the road test. But as a family SUV, they felt that it should be equipped with more standard active safety features. They recommend that buyers interested in this SUV spring for the upper-level Premier trim which has these features if they have the budget for it. The Premier trim starts at $48,400.