2018 Chevrolet Traverse
General Motors pretty much kicked off the large 3-row crossover movement with their 2007 Saturn Outlook. but, it didn’t take long for rivals to one-up the general with slightly smaller and nimbler competition. Since 2009, the Chevrolet Traverse has been the lambda platform’s volume leader. and, while clearly a sales success, it really hasn’t changed much over the years. until now that is. For 2018, what’s old is new again.
Indeed, GM has plenty of experience building 3-row utilities; both in the old school SUV fashion, as well as in today’s more popular crossover style. This 2018 Chevrolet Traverse shares the new global C1XX…or “Chi” platform…with the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave as before, but thankfully GM continues to increase separation between brands.
On that note, the Traverse is on the long wheelbase version, same as Enclave, while Acadia is on the standard “Chi”.
At 204.3-inches, that gives Traverse about a foot more overall length than its GMC kin. Also, Traverse is the only one of the trio setup for 8-passenger seating.
Styling is always personal, but sleeker is a word we’ll use. While it’s slightly longer, the new Traverse looks leaner and less bloated, especially on profile, which we think favors the rival Ford Explorer.
Base engine is still a 3.6-liter V6. Now with automatic stop/start, it also adds a tiny bit more displacement thanks to a larger cylinder bore, and ekes out a few more horsepower, at 310. Torque stays the same at 266 lb-ft.
It’s also helped by a new 9-speed automatic transmission.
Believe it or not, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 is the engine upgrade. It features less horsepower, at 255, but more torque at 295 lb-ft. Currently available only in sporty RS trim, and only in front-wheel-drive. All other trims except for the base L, can be equipped with all-wheel-drive; while top level High Country models get a more advanced twin-clutch traction system.
Our time with a front-wheel-drive 3.6-liter, revealed that it remains totally adequate for performing family hauling and commuting duties, but never feels overly powerful. Max. towing is actually down 200-lbs. from last year to an even 5,000.
The 9-speed certainly helps fuel economy, as the Government Ratings are up across the board; now at 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a good 22.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
For a reasonable, for an SUV, Energy Impact Score of 15.7-barrels of yearly oil use and 6.9 tons of CO2 emissions. 2.0-liter fuel economy ratings are 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined.
Better news than all of that, is that the new Traverse fully feels nimbler behind the wheel; on the street at least, which is certainly where the Traverse behaves best. But with that, comes a sense that it’s not quite as solid feeling as some in the segment.
And, on our handling course, we still fought plenty of understeer; steering feel has noticeably improved, but we’d still consider it slow to respond to inputs.
Grunty low-end torque makes for an efficient leap off the line. The quick-revving 6 delivers power stoically throughout the range. We hit 60 more than a second quicker than in our last Traverse test at 6.9-seconds; with the full ¼-mile taking 15.3-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour.
With fade-free, consistent stops from 60 of just 118-feet; we give it very high marks for braking too.
Don’t know if it’s an early software issue or not; but away from the track, the new 9-speed transmission seemed a little clumsy at times; something we didn’t notice with the more refined driving experience of the new Buick Enclave.
“Large and in charge” is the theme inside, with more than adequate room in all seating positions, including the 3rd row…and cargo capacity that’s among class best at 23.0 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 58.1 behind the 2nd, and 98.2 with all seats folded.
Our tester was sensibly equipped in LT trim, which some found a little disappointing. But, High-dollar High Country and RS trims are available if maxing out the bling factor is important to you.
There’s plenty of tech to go around, including GM’s rear camera mirror, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, along with lane keep assist and automatic braking.
Traverse pricing is on par with the segment, starting at a reasonable $30,925 and escalating to the very cushy High Country at $53,095.
It’s no secret that GM’s big 3-row crossovers were long overdue for a complete update. And there’s no argument that the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is now fully improved and modernized. However, we do wonder if GM went far enough. Just being bigger and a bit better doesn’t really cut it in a class where options are many. Still, we do think Chevrolet did enough to be solidly competitive, and the new Traverse will certainly be plenty appealing to all those that prefer their family ride have a domestic name.
- Engine: 3.6 liter / 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 310 / 255
- Torque: 266 lb-ft. / 295 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.3 seconds @ 93 mph
- EPA: 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined