The 2018 Chevy Traverse was recently released and it has undergone a rather nice transformation, particularly if you are looking for a family-oriented crossover! And, I was lucky enough to be invited out to Michigan with my family to learn about this stellar redesign as well as log several hundred miles behind the wheel as we “traversed” parts of Michigan. We even appropriately spent 2 nights in Traverse City, MI, right on Lake Michigan. Chevy’s current tag line (which you have probably heard on tv or radio) is “finding new roads” and this is exactly what my family and I did in a part of America that we don’t know that well. It was quite a little adventure.
While I was born in the Midwest and lived there for almost a decade as a child, this was the first time my kids had been there. Also, I had recently visited Detroit to learn more about OnStar. But for the most part, this trip was all about new places, new roads, and, of course, the new 2018 Chevy Traverse.
When we arrived, we were immediately whisked over to Shed 5 in the Eastern Market in Detroit where a variety of feature demos of the new 2018 Traverse was waiting to educate us. Throughout Shed 5, which was originally a market that first opened in 1841 and is now a general and flea market, there were cutouts of engines, storage capacity demos, safety showcases, clay models, and more.
There was a full-size clay model of the 2018 Traverse which was so life-like, it was hard to tell the difference.
And, there were sitting areas and a taco truck, and to my kids’ surprise, an ice cream truck. While my family relaxed, I learned about how the 2018 Traverse had been completely redesigned for this new model year. It is classified as a Crossover instead of an SUV, but you would be surprised that the Traverse ISN’T an SUV despite the seating capacity of 7-8 and a huge cargo space. With an SUV, the frame is pretty similar (if not identical) to a truck while a crossover is manufactured specifically for that type of body style.
I learned about all of the various types of steel and alloys that were used to strengthen the Traverse while also making it lighter weight. I learned about crumble zones and the protective cage that secures occupants in the event of a collision.
Outside in the attached lot, there were a couple of other demos. One showed how hot a car’s internal temperature can go with the windows closed. It can be sometimes 20 to 30 degrees hotter inside, putting children and pets in critically dangerous heat levels.
This demo was also designed to introduce a new safety feature which is essentially a safety reminder. If you open up the rear door for longer than a certain amount of time (like the time it takes to strap a child into a car seat or put groceries into the back seat or let a dog into the car), when you eventually reach your destination and turn off the Traverse to exit, there is an audible and dashboard alert reminding you to check the rear seats.
This is a great feature to have, I feel, particularly if you have kids (or pets). There have been far too many child, infant, and pet deaths as a result of forgetting they are in the back and leaving the car to heat up in the sun. While this feature is not triggered by weight on the seat, it’s more general implementation simply using back door sensors is probably more effective.
The demonstration I liked the best was called “Traverse in Reverse”. One of the new features of the 2018 Traverse is the rear view mirror camera. And this is probably my most favorite of all of the features. We all know about rear view cameras that help us navigate when backing up. When shifting into reverse, a monitor shows the view from a rear-mounted camera. But, what this new feature does is it adds another, high-definition camera to the mix.
And, instead of displaying it on your dashboard, the video takes over your rear-view mirror. By simply flipping a lever (the way you do on old-fashioned mirrors to avoid high-beam glare), the “mirror” alternates between a traditional rear-view mirror and the video output from the rear camera. (I used the camera version for the entire trip and it was truly difficult to go back to my old mirror.)
The Traverse in Reverse was an obstacle (funny, I accidentally wrote “optical” which is appropriate as well) course where you could only navigate in reverse using the built-in cameras. You could use the back-up camera and the dashboard display, the side- and front-mounted cameras which also show on the dashboard display and show sort of a 360-degree view of the Traverse from above, and the new rear-view mirror display. To make matters interesting, the back seat of the car was filled to capacity with oversized helium balloons which essentially completed obstructed the traditional rear-view mirror. Then, using the many cameras, you had to back through a cone-marked course where you eventually backed up to a boat and a hitch and had to line the Traverse up directly with the hitch.
I’m happy to say I only took out one orange cone in the entire process! But it was a great way to present a potential real-life scenario. I can’t tell you how many times my rear-view mirror was obstructed by luggage or cargo in the back, but being able to not only have a clear view behind me but also a wider aspect ratio to see the cars in other lanes was a safety feature I truly appreciated and enjoyed using. After the demo, I couldn’t wait to actually get out on the road behind the wheel of the 2018 Chevy Traverse.
And that’s what we did next.
Finding New Roads In Detroit Itself
My wife is a bit of an adventurer. While I was getting the rundown of the Traverse in Shed 5, she was doing some research on places we could visit around Detroit before returning back to the hotel. We chose the Traverse model for our next days’ travel, a charcoal gray 3LT AWD, and then programmed in two destinations: Adam’s (played by Tom Hiddleston) house from the indie movie Only Lovers Left Alive and the Heidelberg Project.
We plugged “Adam’s” house address (82 Alfred Street, Detroit, MI) into the Traverse’s navigation, and off we went. Only Lovers Left Alive was about a modern-day vampire couple (Adam & Eve) who were married for centuries but living apart. Adam was living in a very dilapidated house in Detroit. He had chosen the house because it looked run down and was off the beaten path. What we found when we arrived was a much nicer looking house compared to how it was depicted in the movie (my wife had watched the movie prior to the trip and then we as a family watched the movie after we had returned home from the trip). In fact, the house was transformed into an Airbnb after the movie for a time as well as was renovated, and there is new construction happening around the house.
While my kids and I joked that “it’s just a house,” the next place my wife recommended we visit was the Heidelberg Project and it was truly a must-see gem! Again, the Traverse’s navigation got us quickly and easily to the location. And a funny thing happened along the way. At each stoplight, the Traverse’s engine would stop, a feature that neither of our current vehicles has. Basically, the engine goes into conservation mode where it shuts off when stopped (at a light). As soon as you take your foot off the brake/press the gas, it jumps to life instantly. This is known as the Start-Stop Engine Control System. Pretty nifty!
When we arrived at the Heidelberg Project, we were greeted by a block or two of colorfully painted houses and crazy sculptures. It is essentially an urban art exhibit designed to improve the lives of the neighbors and community. It was conceptualized by artist Tyree Guyton, who, upon returning to his old neighborhood in 1986, found it to be a poor, drug-filled community in ruin. Over the years, he created more outdoor art installations that incorporated houses, vacant lots, freestanding sculptures and more. I highly recommend reading more about the Heidelberg Project’s history and visit if you are in Detroit.
We spent a while wandering through this urban gallery, truly amazed.
After getting our fill of urban culture and seeing the surrounding neighborhood, we hopped back into the Traverse and clicked on the pre-programmed hotel location (Chevy had graciously pre-programmed several destinations into the GPS – the hotel, our future hotel, the airport, etc.)
We had a great dinner at one of the restaurants in the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in the heart of Detroit and went to bed early. We had a big drive ahead of us the next day as we were venturing up and across Michigan to stay at Traverse City, right on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Finding New Roads Around Michigan
With stomachs full of breakfast and our bags packed, we headed out the door on our way to Traverse City on the Lake Michigan coast. The drive was going to be about 250 miles which would be almost 4 hours fully testing out the 2018 Chevy Traverse. Our luggage, carry-on suitcases, purses, and backpacks, fit without issue in the cargo space, especially with the rear seats folded down. Having rear seats that fold down is a great option as there is ample luggage space. Since there were only four of us traveling, each person had their own seat (the middle row consists of two individual seats). The maximum storage capacity of the 2018 Traverse is 98.2 cubic feet. That would be a lot of groceries!
Later, I discovered the under-floor cargo storage in the back which holds 3.2 cubic feet. This is a great place to store smaller valuables in a way that is out of sight from people peering through the window in a parking lot, for example.
One of the first things that we did was to connect all of our devices to the onboard WiFi by OnStar. This is a must-have for families, especially if tablets, laptops, or items without cellular connectivity will be used. For about $20/month, you can turn on unlimited 4G WiFi in the Traverse’s cabin. This is also a great thing if you are on a limited data plan on specific devices and also because kids (unfortunately) tend to spend much of their time on their phones instead of looking out the window. We did tell our kids to put their phones away though to be sure they saw the countryside as we whizzed by. You can connect up to 7 devices to the WiFi hotspot.
In the front, there were two USB ports for my wife and my iPhones. And, the great thing is, each of these USB ports connected to Apple CarPlay. We just had to determine which phone was going to be the primary one. Sometimes we alternated so that my wife could play a podcast, or I could use Apple Maps (instead of the built-in navigation). But both USB ports kept our phones fully charged. If we had had the new iPhone 8 (the iPhone X?) that is rumored to have wireless charging, we could have simply placed our phones down in the wireless charging bay.
My kids were happy to point out that there were many USB ports through the Traverse, 1-2 in each row of seating. There is nothing worse than arriving at a destination with no battery left on your smartphone. And, there were lots of various storage spots throughout the vehicle (23 to be exact). I thought one of the coolest ones was behind the main display. By simply pressing a button, the navigation screen slid up, revealing storage for various valuables. There was even a USB charger there as well. And, you could lock the slide up screen with a passcode, much the same way you would do with a hotel safe. This was a great use of dashboard space if you ask me!
Our trip took us up highway 75, passed Flint, MI, and other cities. As we approached Traverse City, we noticed the landscape changing to become much more rural and less urban, with lots of green, wooded areas and farms. Eventually, we got sight of Lake Michigan and drove along the shore on our way to Traverse City. Our hotel, the Hotel Indigo, was directly across from the water, so once we had settled into our room, we went for a walk around the shoreline and explored the nearby area.
We were pretty worn out from the drive, although I found the Traverse’s driver’s seat to be extremely comfortable. It had many adjustments that you could tweak to your liking (8-way power adjustments for driver and 6 for passenger) and the front driver and passenger seats had both heating and cooling features (the kids’ seats were heated only). Arriving after a long drive without an aching back is a great thing! And it looked like lots of other Traverse drivers had arrived as well.
We had a dinner up on the rooftop, courtesy of Chevy, and enjoyed the views of the lake before the rain started (yes, it did rain).
The next day we set out to explore the surrounding area which included the famous Sleeping Bear dunes and the maritime museum. We started out by heading to the tourist center to get the scoop on the best route and places to see. I do recommend going there and asking to see the movie that talks about the history of the Sleeping Bear dunes and surrounding area (they don’t regularly show the movie, you have to request it). You have to pay a park fee to visit the various parks there (you can buy daily or annual passes).
The parking lot was quite crowded with tourists and spaces were scarce, but I did find that it was a great place to test out the Surround Vision and reverse cameras to be sure I didn’t run anyone over!
Once we had our route planned, we headed off to see the dunes and surrounding area.
At one point we stopped to see a dune that had a huge slope down to the water. While we didn’t hike all the way down to the bottom, we did learn that to hike back, it takes an hour or so (depending on how good of shape you are in). It was an incredible view of Lake Michigan and the angle of the sand dune was quite scary!
Perfect place for a selfie!
We drove on further in the Traverse and ended up at some other dunes. A bit of warning on this excursion, the hike is quite deceiving! We walked for at least an hour and every time we went over a hill, we thought we would arrive at the water’s edge, only to be greeted by more little hills in the distance. We did this a few more times and eventually gave up since we had not really prepared to hike that far (e.g., didn’t bring water). The hike supposedly is a couple of miles.
But the plus side was, when we got almost back to the parking lot, there was a huge sand dune we could run down to the bottom! My kids loved that (and I thought it was pretty fun as well).
After that, we headed over to the maritime museum area where I took some more photos of the Traverse.
I always like taking photos of headlights. The Traverse has High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and LED Daytime Running lamps.
One thing that you will notice that is dramatically changed from earlier model years of the Traverse is the back. It looks much more like a traditional SUV (but remember, it’s technically a Crossover) and less round in the hatch area. I commented directly to the Chevy engineers when I was getting a walk-through at Shed 5 how much better I thought the design of the 2018 model was.
Oh, and one more thing I should mention about the new model, there is a package called the “Redline” (which other models have as well) that features a blacked-out appearance with red accents. I fell in love with that one (but unfortunately there wasn’t one available for me to drive). It had all of the HighTechDad colors of black and red.
The Redline doesn’t have any additional features or performance packages despite its racy look.
The Chevy emblem on the Redline is black as well, as compared to the bright yellow one we are all used to.
By the end of the day, we were all hiked-out and were ready to get food and rest up. We had a long drive back to the Detroit airport ahead of us the next day. And we wanted to take a different route home so that we could see different areas of Michigan as well as quickly drive through Michigan State University – yep, we were once again off to Find New Roads with Chevy.
The drive back was quiet and comfortable (did you know that the Traverse actually had active noise canceling for the cabin?). We arrived back at the airport safe and sound and were greeted at the airport by Chevy personnel who took the vehicle off our hands. (Honestly, I was waiting for that Oprah moment where they would say “we canceled your flight home so that you could drive home in your NEW 2017 Chevrolet Traverse!!!” but alas, that moment didn’t happen.)
All in all, we must have logged about 600 miles in the 2018 Chevy Traverse! We got to discover a portion of the United States we didn’t know (specifically #PureMichigan), explored the magnificent sand dunes, gazed out at the huge Lake Michigan, and got to test out many of the new features of the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, especially those features designed with families in mind.
The MSRP of the particular model of Traverse (2018 Traverse AWD 3LT with Leather) we drove topped out at $46,145. This included a dual skyscape sunroof and had additional trailering upgrades. The MPG is estimated at 17 city, 25 highway, and 20 combined and I found we were pretty close to that mark. This is decent for this size vehicle and the fact that it is all-wheel-drive and a 3.6L V6. It had all of the key safety features I would demand in a new vehicle: anti-lock braking, a ton of various airbag systems, rear cameras, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind spot indicators, the surround vision I mentioned earlier, rear parking assist, and teen driver technology (which allows parents to feel just a bit safer letting their teens out on the road with the Traverse).
It was truly a trip, a drive, and a car to remember!
Disclosure: I have a material connection because my family and I were provided with airfare, hotel, food, gas, and other items in consideration for me to experience and review the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and write this content. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: While we found new roads in Michigan, my family and I also found a great new crossover from Chevy. The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse has many features specifically designed with families in mind to make road trips or quick drives around town safe yet fun and comfortable.