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Move people and cargo with sumptuous Chevy Traverse

Chevrolet’s Traverse is neither SUV nor minivan, and it isn’t a station wagon, either.

The 2017 Chevrolet Traverse and its sibling, the Buick Enclave, exist in a category unto themselves (though Ford’s Flex is a close neighbor). I would call the Traverse a Utility Touring Vehicle.

Delivering comfortable seating for eight, the three-row Traverse takes space efficiency into a place few others inhabit. Traverse owners get an incredible 116.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity when folding the Chevy’s second- and third-row seats away. There’s 70.3 cubic feet with just the third row folded and a still-respectable 24.4 cubic feet with it deployed. When it comes to hauling the goods, the Traverse is virtually unrivaled. What’s more, that third-row seat is easily accessible and welcoming to smaller adults.

Power comes from a 281-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 capable of generating 266 pound-feet of torque in the LS and LT models. For the top-line Premier trim, the engine spins up 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque thanks to a dual-exhaust system.

If you go LS, you’ll be limited to front drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available as an option for LT and Premier. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/22 highway/18 overall with front-wheel drive. Maximum 5,200 pounds is allowed with the towing package.

On the road, the Traverse handles more like a car than the heavy hauler it actually is. Ride motions are nicely controlled, and the interior is quiet both at highway speeds and around town. Make no mistake, the Traverse is on the larger side, but it’s manageable in urban settings and reasonably easy to park.

Even with close to 300 horsepower going for it, there are times when the Traverse will make you wish for a bit more power, such as when attacking steep grades with a full load or pulling out to execute a pass on a short stretch. On the other hand, with its rigid body structure going for it, the Chevy corners pretty nicely for a vehicle its size. And truthfully, when driven civilly, the 2017 Chevrolet Traverse is a highly competent automobile.

Its interior treatment is one of the nicest in Chevrolet’s lineup. Handsomely sculpted and sumptuously appointed, the two-tone dash treatment, seats and door panels radiate an aura of quality.

Instrumentation is readily legible, and the 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system hosts the Chevrolet MyLink interface with Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, voice controls and Internet radio applications. It can also be configured to feed a 10-speaker Bose audio system.

If you go with the Premier model, you’ll enjoy 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding mirrors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and lane departure alert. The Premier also brings leather upholstery, driver memory settings, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a navigation system. However, second-row captain’s chairs are mandatory with this package, so you’ll sacrifice a seating position.

Given its outstanding carrying capacity, well thought-out interior and pleasant road manners, the 2017 Traverse is a solid offering for families.