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All-new Chevrolet Traverse has dedicated off-road version

Z71 variant sports chunky tires and clever suspension

Does the all-new Chevy Traverse look rugged to you? PHOTO FROM CHEVROLET

Despite fancy advertising and colorful marketing blurbs, crossovers are inherently not very good at off-roading. Their unibody frames flex under twisting loads, and suspension articulation is very limited. But Chevrolet thinks that given the right gear, the all-new Traverse can properly handle rough terrain.

These days, carmakers are making crossovers less curvaceous. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

The bow-tie brand claims that it has engineered the latest Traverse to “act and look more like an SUV.” As always, the latter is subjective. But in comparison to the outgoing model, the new one does feature more slab-sided surfaces and is not as sleek. Given the growing popularity of boxy-looking crossovers, it seems like the Traverse is going in the right direction as far as design is concerned.

The Traverse needs quite a bit of muscle to make its flat face cut through the air at freeway speeds. To that end, all variants come equipped with a turbocharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine. It pushes out 315hp and 430Nm, enough to tow up to 2,268kg if the eight-speed automatic gearbox keeps its cogs together.

The Z71 will really put its skid plate to good use. PHOTO FROM CHEVROLET

No new crossover would be caught dead without fancy electronics, and the Traverse is no exception. Occupants will no longer fumble with small icons when using the large 17.7-inch infotainment screen—said to be more than double the size of the previous model’s display. The car also has access to GM’s OnStar system that offers amenities like a 24/7 concierge and on-demand vehicle diagnostics.

Chevy Safety Assist is standard on all Traverse variants. It has the usual stuff like automatic braking, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. But Chevrolet wants to emphasize that its driver aids can recognize pedestrians and cyclists—and even automatically brake for them when they cross paths with the Traverse. Speaking of automation, the car’s Super Cruise self-driving system can work while towing.

The 17.7-inch display can access OnStar's 24/7 support center. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

In the US, the Traverse comes in seven- or eight-seat versions across four trim levels. But the cream of the crop is the beefy Z71 variant—instantly recognizable by its 18-inch wheels wrapped in meaty all-terrain tires. In addition, the Z71 has skid plates, adaptive dampers, selectable terrain modes, and a unique twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system.

If you don't like the macho Z71, have a look at the sporty RS. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

Exactly how all that gear will work in practice is anyone’s guess. But with the rising popularity of off-roading and overlanding, Chevrolet is pinning its hopes on the Traverse and its Z71 version grabbing a sizable share of the crowded crossover market.

Miggi Solidum

Professionally speaking, Miggi is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He pens the column ‘G-Force’.