The 2020 Chevy Traverse must have missed Ken Burns’s “Country Music” series.
Episode 8 of that eight-part PBS documentary, fans will recall, was titled “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’.” In other words, don’t forget your roots, remember where you came from. But when that episode aired, the north-of-50-grand High Country version of Traverse must have been tuned to “Wheel of Fortune.”
Back in the day, Chevy was General Motors’ blue-collar brand. GM fans looking to go high-brow were steered to Cadillac. But, in its top-of-the-line High Country trim, there’s nothing blue-collar about the 2020 Traverse -- other than it’s hospitable enough to bring along a six-pack.
The biggest Traverse news for 2020 is under the hood. A four-cylinder turbo option, available the past two years, has been shelved, meaning every 2020 Traverse -- be it L, LS, LT, RS, Premier or High Country -- is powered by GM’s familiar 310-hp V-6, managed by a standard nine-speed automatic.
Regarding traction, only the base L is strictly front-wheel drive; all other Traverse trims can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive.
The ultra-tony High Country we drove did, indeed, boast four-corner grip, along with haberdashery and equipment fit for royalty and a $54,395 sticker price that Chevy’s core constituency might consider a king’s ransom.
On High Country’s standard-equipment list are two -- count ‘em, two -- sunroofs, leather hides, middle-row captain’s chairs, power-folding and -raising 60/40-split third row bench, heated and cooled front seats, heated middle-row seats, tri-zone climate control, power tilt/ telescope wheel, 10-speaker premium Bose audio, Chevy’s “Premium” infotainment that includes an 8-inch touch-screen, onboard navigation and numerous USB charging ports... there’s more, but you get the idea.
On High Country, Traverse’s handsome (since 2018) styling is further distinguished with a "chromealicious" treatment. That shiny metal glitters from door handles, rocker panels, rear bumper, lift-gate, roof rails and side-window frames.
It’s quite a package and, with High Country’s sticker price, Chevy isn’t shy about saying so.
Inside, room is copious, not only up front -- where the mildly bolstered buckets are designed for long-haul comfort, not athletic driving -- but also in the middle row and in the surprisingly spacious third row, whose three-position bench actually can accommodate two average-stature adults.
On the road, the ride is smooth and the cabin quiet. No unpleasant surprises here. Meanwhile, the V-6 is well-suited to its mission. Of course, this seven- or eight-passenger, over-two-ton people-hauler is no hot-rod, but power is more than adequate to the task and the nine-speed automatic is the soul of composure.
Driver-selectable drive modes include 2WD (front-wheel drive), AWD, Off Road (for light-duty gravel-type surfaces, not boulder crawling) and Tow/Haul.
In 150 miles of mixed city/hwy driving, about half in the more frugal front-wheel drive mode, the other half on rain-soaked streets in the AWD setting, we realized 21 mpg -- one more than the EPA figured.
The infotainment stuff -- the latest Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system -- is easy to use via a handsome and well-positioned, piano-black-framed touch screen that’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible. We missed a radio tuning knob but, otherwise, all is well. Meanwhile, climate controls, consisting of 13 clearly labeled buttons and a couple of knobs, is the soul of simplicity.
The lion’s share of modern driver-assist features, alas, are either in options packages or standard only on upper trims, but every Traverse provides a new HD rear vision camera view.
While Traverse is available in six trims, starting at just over 30 grand, buyers longing for the High Country version may want to switch from Burns’s country music to Barrett Strong’s R&B anthem: “Money (That’s What I Want)”.
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