Friday, November 9, 2018


JAGUAR’S ELECTRIFYING EXPERIENCE!

Jaguar is going all-in with electric cars with plans to to put electric power into all of its models by 2020.

To help familiarize consumers who may have some qualms about the future of these vehicles (range angst, anyone?), the company is staging a nationwide tour billed as “Jaguar Electrifies Experience” that showcases its products with an emphasis on its first electric-power vehicle, the I-Pace SUV.

Well, it’s “nationwide” in that the debut was in San Francisco, and this weekend’s edition was in Miami. Next venues are in Los Angles in mid-December and New York early next year, which leaves a lot of the nation uncovered. But maybe some will be added later.

The Jaguar Electrifies Experience gives consumers not only the time to get a close-up look at all the new vehicles without a salesperson hovering over them but also the opportunity to see how the I-Pace handles on a “SmartCone” closed course and to take it out for short spin on city streets. There’s also see an exhibit from Wired magazine to learn how an electric vehicle can fit into their future.

A handful of South Florida automotive media members had the opportunity for a preview before doors were opened to the public. (Yes, we’re an overprivileged group, sometimes undeservedly so!)

In only a matter of minutes I learned a couple of things:

—Thanks to the location of the 90 kWh lithium-ion battery stretching across under the front floorboards, the I-Pace handled the closed-cone course with ease. There is no vehicle sway with the sharp changes of direction.

—The throttle response is amazing. I was in the back for the spin around a few blocks and when my driving partner hit the accelerator (can’t call it a “gas” pedal now, can we?) I was pushed back significantly in the seat.

That’s because the I-Pace is powered by two 197-horsepower motors, one operating the front wheels, the other the rear, for a combined 394 hp and a whopping 512 lb.-ft. of torque. The zero-to-60 mph clocking is 4.5 seconds!

Jaguar says the I-Pace has a range of up to 243 miles on a full charge, but the rep who rode with us said that there have been reports of a range of up to 290 miles. Heating or cooling the vehicle while it is plugged in and recharging also helps to get to maximum range by reducing the draw on the car’s battery to reach desired temperatures.

Charging time, always an issue with the electric vehicles I have had the opportunity to drive, also is reduced. Jaguar says that owners will be able to achieve a zero-to-80 percent charge in about 40 minutes using 100kW DC fast charging or just over 10 hours using home charging with a 230V/32AMP AC wall box (7kW).

I won’t get into the overall looks of the I-Pace here save to say it meets or even exceeds Jaguars models’ typical, distinctive good looks inside and out. Jaguar also has been doing a lot of catching up with competitors in the area of operation of technological features, though the short time in the I-Pace didn’t allow for much opportunity to check that out.

Assuming you live in either in South Florida or will be in the LA or New York metro areas when the Jaguar Electrifies Experience arrives there, you will have the opportunity to see for yourself. Just keep an eye out for the advertising and social media sources promoting the event for details!


Friday, November 2, 2018

GENESIS ADDS THIRD (AND LAST) SEDAN TO ITS PORTFOLIO WITH INTRODUCTION OF G70


Disposed of the Hyundai label and launched as a separate brand from the South Korean manufacturer three years ago, Genesis continues to expand its portfolio with the introduction of its G70 luxury sedan for 2019.

As you might deduce from the alpha-numeric naming system, it is the smallest of the three sedans now under the Genesis banner following the G90 and G80 sedans that have been around for a couple of years.

Genesis also says it is the third and last sedan of the six new models the company plans to have out by 2020. It should be noted, however, that “smallest” does not necessarily mean “subcompact” or “too small” for comfort.

In fact, at 184.4 inches long and with a wheelbase of 111.6 inches, the G70 virtually matches in size the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (184.5/111.8) and BMW’s 3-Series sedans (182.5/110.6).

For many, the G70 might be “just right.”


The G70 comes in five trim levels (Advanced, Elite, Prestige, Dynamic, and Sport) with either a 3.3-liter, turbocharged V6 or a 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel also available on some trims.

Prefer a manual instead of paddle shifters? The 2.0T-6M/T Sport (RWD only) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission.


Pricing starts at $34,900 for 2.0T RWD models and $36,900 for 2.0T AWD with the various packages adding to the base cost as the trim levels go up. The Elite package adds $5,000 to the base MSRP, and the Prestige, which includes the Elite features, adds another $3,000 to the cost of the Elite and on up the line.

The 3.3T models run from $43,750 for RWD models to $52,250 for the AWD, Dynamic Edition.

Oh. Add another $995 for destination and delivery.


My time was spent in the RWD 2.0T with the Elite, Prestige, and Dynamic packages running the final total to $44,895.

With those packages, in addition to standard features like 18-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, LED daytime running lights, dual climate control, lane-keeping assist and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, you get such niceties as a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (replacing the standard manual), 19-inch wheels (replacing the 18s), a navigation system, full LED headlights, parking warnings, heated and ventilated front seats, a sunroof, premium Lexicon 15-speaker sound system, leather seating surfaces (replacing leatherette), head-up display, surround view camera system, microfiber suede headliner and heated rear seats.


Actually, the list of both standard and optional features is a bit longer, but you get the idea. As I wrote in March about the G90 and again last May about the G80, Genesis is a true luxury vehicle with all the trimmings you expect of the segment.

The ride is smooth and quiet, and you may set the G70 in one of five driving modes by  twisting a knob on the console to select Sport, Comfort, Smart, Eco or Custom to match your mood.

When it comes to comfort and convenience, the G70 ranks among the best of them for the passenger, too. Well, at least the rider in the front seat. Adults, especially taller ones, may find the back a bit confining when it comes to legroom.

Genesis may not have the brand cachet of some of the traditional luxury marques, but it has everything else. You’ll be doing yourself a disfavor if you don’t check it out if you’re shopping in the segment.

What I liked about the 2019 Genesis G70: Infotainment functions are very user friendly — thanks in a large part to the use of traditional knob and button controls — and there is plenty of them. The 8-inch display screen is much-appreciated. As I have noted in many reviews of Genesis and parent-company Hyundai’s products, the South Koreans have a knack for taking technology and simplifying it so even techno newbies can understand and operate it. It’s like Mac vs. PC. Finally, the fun-to-drive quotient is high.

What I didn't like about the 2019 Genesis G70: Trunk capacity is stingy (10.5 cubic feet), which makes it impractical as a family vehicle (but fine for empty-nesters). As with its competitors in the luxury small sedan segment, the backseat is on the tight side. Fuel mileage is ordinary in the 2.0T (22 miles-per-gallon city, 30 highway, 25 combined).

Would I buy the 2019 Genesis G70? In a heartbeat. Your only qualm should be the overall size (including trunk capacity). If you need more room for you and your stuff, prepare to step up to the G80.


Monday, October 29, 2018

AUDI A4 AN OUTSTANDING CHOICE IN A FIELD THAT HAS A LOT OF GOOD ONES


The A4 has been a stalwart seller for Audi for well over two decades now, moving into its ninth generation with the redesign for 2017.

In fact, the A4 and two crossover SUVs, the Q5 and the Q7, are largely responsible for keeping the company from a decrease in year-to-date sale through September comparing 2018 figures to those for 2017.

Audi reported that 28,783 A4s were sold over the first nine months of 2018, an increase of 4 percent over the same period in 2017. It announced an 11 percent jump for September alone with 3,185 sold this year compared to 2,879 in September 2017.

Obviously, those aren’t huge numbers when compared to top sellers in the passenger car segment overall, but they stack up well with their Teutonic brethren. Mercedes-Benz reported a fall of nearly 25 percent for C-Class sales month-over-month for September (4,682 for 2018, 6,194 for 2017) and the BMW 3-Series, long considered the bell cow in the segment, was down over 40 percent for September (3,615 for 2018, 6,045 for 2017).

Sales for the year-to-date were off 40.2 percent for the 3-Series and down 28.32 percent for the C-Class at the end of September.


The A4 neatly slots in between the Q5 and the Q7 as Audi’s leading sellers.

Which is not surprising. This is one great sedan that gets high marks for its performance, its looks inside and out, its comfortable ride, and its user-friendly technological features — especially when compared to its competitors.


Cars.com awarded it the title of Luxury Car of the Year at the 2018 North American International Auto Show at Detroit, citing its “balance of sport, luxury, function, amenities, quality and comfort.”

That’s pretty much a winning combination right there.

The Audi A4 is offered in Premium, Premium-Plus, and Prestige trim levels (we’re dealing with only the sedan here, not the Allroad wagon) all powered by a 2.0-liter, turbo 4-cylinder engine pumping out 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and mated to a 7-speed, S-tronic double-clutch or 6-speed manual transmission (depending on the trim).

That’s enough oomph for a spirited performance, but if you want more the all-new for 2018 S4 with its 3.0-liter turbo-V6 (354 hp, 369 lb.-ft.) zips you from zero-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds.


You can get the A4 with front-wheel drive or Audi’s all-wheel quattro system.

Fuel mileage figures run from 27 miles-per-gallon city, 37 highway for FWD to 24/34 for quattro models. 

My ride for the week was the 2.0T quattro S-tronic version that came with a base MSRP of $40,500. (Base models start at just a tad under $37,000.) Adding extras like the Premium-Plus package and Audi’s MMI telematics system with navigation ran the total to $48,290.


For 2018, Audi made a few more features standard over the previous model. Notable standard features include LED interior lighting, power sunroof, three-zone climate control, 8-way power adjustable heated front seats with 4-way adjustable lumbar support for the driver, LED daytime running lights and taillights, and Audi’s low-speed collision assist system.

Naturally, the cabin is rich with high-quality materials with leather and soft touches throughout, and you can add options like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel as well.

Visibility is good all-around, and legroom is generous with 41.3 inches up front and 35.7 in the back row despite the A4’s classification as a “small” luxury sedan. It has more the feel of a mid-size.

The center screen is easy on the eyes, though designers really should find a way to incorporate it more smoothly into the flow of the dash. Sticking up like it does makes it look like an afterthought. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is easy to get the hang of even for techno newbies.

What I liked about the 2018 Audi A4: This is one of the best-looking sedans in a segment that has a bunch of them. The ride is sporty, and you can switch to the mode you prefer (comfort, auto, dynamic or individual). You can turn off the stop-start system. The “virtual cockpit” system allows the driver to personalize the instrument panel, reducing the size of the speedometer and tach to accommodate a full-size navigation map right in front of your eyes.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Audi A4: The list of standard features is generous (leather seats are included), but to get the really cool stuff you'll have to spend about $6,000 over the base MSRP for such items as a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, LED headlights, Parking System Plus, Audi side assist, and the Navigation and Telematics package. Truck size (13.0 cubic feet) is only adequate.

Would I buy the 2018 Audi A4? Yes. There are lots of good choices in the segment, though some can overwhelm you with all their geez-whiz techno gadgets. Not the A4. It strikes a nice balance between gee-whiz technology and user-friendly operation. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


CHEVY HONORS MUSCLE CAR TRADITION WITH 2018 CAMARO CONVERTIBLE


The glory days for Muscle Cars may go back four or five decades, but even though there are fewer of them around today, you can still learn what they were all about without having to shop the collector's car market.

Take the Chevrolet Camaro, launched in 1967 as a competitor to Ford's Mustang.

Once seemingly destined for the same scrap heap where Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and Plymouths now reside, the Camaro got new life when Chevy resurrected it for 2010 after ceasing production in 2002 because of lagging sales.

Let’s hope a similar fate doesn’t await the latest edition. The Camaro, especially in convertible form, deserves much better.

The Camaro, most notably with the standard 6.2-liter V8 engine that is standard in 1SS or 2SS trim, is ever bit a Muscle Car in the true tradition of the 1960s and early ’70s, only a bit more refined. It is available in coupe or convertible form, and I was fortunate to have the latter recently.

“Spartan” is what may come to mind with the interiors of Muscle Cars of the past, but that doesn’t hold true with the Camaro 2SS. If not up to full luxury standards, the upgrades made to the cabin are immediately noticeable.

Materials are of a higher quality, and such conveniences as dual zone climate control, 8-way adjustable driver’s and 6-way passenger’s seats, premium Bose sound system, Chevy MyLink with 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth streaming and phone, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and  4G LET Wi-Fi are included among standard features under the $40,000 MSRP.


Outside, the Camaro 2SS convertible gets HID headlights with LED signature lighting, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, and a power convertible top that can be lowered by pushing a button on the key fob. It also can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30 mph, handy if caught in a surprise shower.

The base transmission to go with the V8 (455 horsepower, 455 pound-feet of torque) is a 6-speed automatic, but, alas, my vehicle for the week had the optional 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. It tacks $1,495 on to the price. Other niceties, like a navigation system, dual mode performance exhaust, 20-inch 5-split spoke wheels, and more ran the bottom line to $52,820.


Given my druthers, I’d stick with the manual tranny, but that’s not the trend these days.

Of course, the Camaro is not without its drawbacks.

With the top up, visibility all around is somewhat restricted. Fortunately, blind spot monitoring, lane-change alert, and a rearview camera with cross-traffic monitoring are among standard items. Rear-park assist also is included.

Leg room in the front of the convertible is a roomy 43.9 inches, but the back offers less than 30 inches. It’s the same in coupe form as well.


Forget cargo space. It’s only 9.1 cubic feet for the coupe and much less than that with the convertible, especially with the top lowered. I question even the 7.1 cubic feet Chevy claims for it.

And then there is the gas mileage. The spec sheet put the figures at 17 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, 20 combined, which is not as bad as one might expect. You've got to sacrifice something to get that power.

The government claims that will have you paying about $3,750 more on fuel over a 5-year period over the average new vehicle, but one must consider that the Camaro Convertible is far from an average vehicle.

What I liked about the 2018 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible: They had me at “convertible.” But to add more, it looks, and with a 6.2-liter V8 under the hood, it also acts the part of a true Muscle Car, but with a more refined interior. Top operation is simple enough as long as you have the trunk set right, and the infotainment system is user-friendly.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible: Yes, you have to sacrifice something with the top folding into the trunk, but cargo space virtually disappears when the top is lowered. The backseat doesn’t offer much in the way of space. Maybe small children can fit back there, emphasis on the word “small.” Visibility is restricted to the rear with the top raised.

Would I buy the 2018 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible? Yes. I still kind of lean toward the Mustang, but the Camaro has become a worthy competitor. Glad Chevy had the good sense to bring it back after an eight-year hiatus.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018


JEEP CHEROKEE GETS A WELCOME

MID-CYCLE REFRESHING FOR 2019


Jeep has given its Cherokee a mid-cycle refreshing, and the result makes it a competitor in the compact SUV segment, especially for those who are looking for something they can take off-road from time to time.

Among styling updates new to the 2019 model are the front fascia and hood with LED headlamps, daytime running lamps and fog lamps, a handsfree power rear liftgate, dual panel sunroof, and a more refined interior that includes more cargo space than its predecessor.

A new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has been added to the Pentastar V6 and base 2.4-liter Tigershark as engine options, and the 9-speed automatic transmission mated to the 2.0 turbo has been enhanced to match its performance.


Four-wheel-drive systems also have been enhanced for even more off-road capability, which already sets the standard in the class.

It comes in five trims — Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and the trail-rated Trailhawk — and has been in showrooms since the first quarter of this year. (You have to be old to remember when October was the “magic” month for the next year’s new cars to arrive!)

The Overland trim with the 2.0 turbo and 4X4 configuration served as my vehicle for the week. With 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, it virtually matches the horsepower in the V6 (271) and has a bigger punch than the 239 pound-feet of torque the V6 delivers.

It is no contest with the 2.4L Tigershark, which with 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet is somewhat underpowered. The 2.4L isn’t all that more fuel efficient either with mileage figures of 22 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway in 4X2 configuration and 21/29 with the Jeep Active Drive I 4X4 setup.


With the turbo, the numbers are 23/31 as a 4X2. The 4X4 versions depend on which system is installed — 21/29 with Jeep Active Drive I, 20/27 with Active Drive II, and 20/26 with Active Drive Lock.

Mileage for the V6 vary from 20/29 as a 4X2 to 18/24 with Active Drive Lock.


One key difference: the 2.0 turbo is the only one of the three engines that has premium fuel recommended, though Jeep says that regular 87 octane is acceptable.

I tend to go with what is recommended, but it’s nice to know that you can get by with less expensive fuel.

The Drive I system is standard in Overland 4X4 models and is a full-time system that requires no driver input. It essentially monitors what the front axle is doing and shifts some power to the rear when the front gets moving faster. You also have a choice of settings to specific conditions like snow, rain, and mud.


Drive II adds a low-range gear for light off-roading, and Drive Lock is for more serious off-roading, including rock crawling. You’ll have to get the Trailhawk trim for the rock crawling.

Chances are you aren’t interested in doing anything like that. Like a majority of 4WD vehicle owners, you probably aren’t going to take your SUV onto any terrain more serious than that of a gravel road, dirt parking lot, or maybe the beach.

A few years back, a study showed only 5 percent of SUV owners actually go off-roading. The percentage may have changed a bit since then, but probably not by much.


That isn’t to say that 4X4s are a waste if you are among the 95 percent. Even on flat terrain and warm climates, you may find the sure-footedness of all-wheel power a bonus in rainy conditions and slick roads, and if you live or drive in the snow belt in winter, that is especially true. And you certainly want the assurance of all-wheel power if you do any boat towing and face the task of dealing with slippery boat ramps.

The new Cherokee almost looks too sharp to risk the scathes, dents, and general mayhem that can come with treks through the woods.

Though the front fascia features the traditional Jeep seven-slot grille, the design cues contribute to a more flowing line from front to back. There are five wheel designs to choose from, and the Cherokee comes with capless fuel filling so you don’t have to grapple with the issue of smelly hands after filling up.

Inside, designers gave the Cherokee a more premium feel with lots of padded spaces about and quality materials. It’s easy to get in and out of, and the seats are comfortable and the ride quiet once you do. Legroom in the second row is a generous 40.3 inches, less than a inch short of what front-seat riders get.

Even expanded a bit for 2019 over the 2018 model, cargo a space is a bit on the short side, only 25.8 cubic feet with the second row seats in place. That expands to 54.7 cubic feet with them folded, and there is a small area underneath the false floor for discreet storage of a few items.

The Cherokee starts at an MSRP of $24,195 for the Latitude edition. My Overland model had a starting price of $37,775. With the optional Technology Group package (adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, full-speed collision warning, lane departure warning, etc.) and a hefty $1,445 destination and delivery charge thrown in, the total came to $40,715.

What I liked about the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland: The standard UConnect 4C system with navigation and 8.4-inch monitor was very user-friendly. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also are standard for you tech geeks.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland: It’s hard to find fault with the Overland model and its upgraded interior. Cargo space is a bit on the stingy side for an SUV, even for the “compact” class. Some user reviews I found on the Internet mentioned an issue with stalling, but that was with the base 2.4L engine. Didn’t seem to be a problem with the 2.0L turbo.

Would I buy the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Overland? Yes. This is a much underrated vehicle that doesn’t take a backseat to any other vehicle in its class.







Friday, September 28, 2018

FUN IN A HYUNDAI: 2019 VELOSTER R-SPEC ADDS TO THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE


As good as Hyundai vehicles have become, “fun to drive” is not usually something you associate with them.

Functional, yes, and attractive both inside and out as well. The Sonata is a great midsize sedan, and the Genesis, now broken off as a separate brand, is one of the more underrated sedans in the luxury segment.

They are not sluggards by any means, but still more tuned to efficiency, daily commutes and family trips than performance.

Even the Veloster, when it was launched as a 2012 model, lacked the kind of peppiness often found in the compact segment.

Some early reviews of the first-year Veloster used terms like “lackluster” or “sluggish”  acceleration, “wimpy engine” and even “feels sluggish from stoplight” to describe what otherwise was considered a praiseworthy new car. That’s what 1.6-liter, 138 horsepower engine is going to get you.

Hyundai remedied this by adding a turbo version for 2013 that boosted horsepower to 201 with 195 pound-feet of torque while infringing only modestly on fuel mileage figures, which remained over 30 miles-per-gallon highway with either a manual or automatic transmission.


The South Korean automaker skipped production of the Veloster for a year before displaying it as a 2019 model at the annual North American Auto Show in Detroit last January. Full production began in Korea in March, and it went to showrooms during the second quarter of this year.

The 2019 Veloster got a complete redesign, though it retained the odd, asymmetrical three-door configuration with two doors on the passenger side but only one slightly larger one on the driver’s side.

The R-Spec model that served as my recent test vehicle features the 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine mated with a short-throw, six-speed manual transmission. The combination delivered not only a nifty experience behind the wheel but excellent fuel economy of 26 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 combined.

It should be noted that an even higher performance Veloster N model is new for 2019 and it features a 2.0-liter turbo 4-banger that boosts power figures to 275 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. But the R-Spec kind of hits the sweet spot between the base 2.0 model with its normally aspirated engine (147 hp and 132 lb.-ft.) and the new N.


The Veloster’s interior also got an  upgrade for 2019, and there is ample room — at least for front-seat riders. They get to ride in comfortable, uniquely designed cloth seats with up to 42.9 inches of legroom. Not that the seats in the back are uncomfortable, but only 34.1 inches of legroom is offered and headroom is cut back to 35.9 inches because of the slanted roof.

At least it’s easy enough to get into the back from the proper side, but the three-door configuration remains somewhat of a puzzler.

There is a long list of safety features, though blind-spot warning is not included (another reason to keep those mirrors adjusted correctly), and if you aren’t comfortable with the 6-speed manual transmission, you can get the R-Spec with a 6-speed automatic or 7-speed double-clutch transmission with paddle shifters.


Tech functions include an 8-inch display for the audio system (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio), Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, push-button start, Hyundai’s Blue Link services, Bluetooth connectivity (linking a cell phone is a snap), steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise control, Bluetooth, and audio systems, and dual USB charging points.

Don’t like the way your Veloster sounds? Simply adjust the Active Engine Sound system and a synthesizer will amplify or quiet it to your liking. It’s not actual engine sound but kind of an artificial way of adding to the sportiness of the engine tone.

All in all, it's a nifty little ride.

The base Veloster starts at $19,385 with the destination and delivery charges included. The R-Spec checks in at $23,785.


What I liked about the 2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec: It packs plenty of punch, and the standard 6-speed manual transmission simply adds to the fun. Why waste money going for the automatic?

What I didn't like about the 2019 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec: Sorry, Hyundai designers, I simply don't “get” the three-door design. If you’re going to have access to the backseats on one side (the right), why not have it on the other? Rear visibility is restricted, so keep those side mirrors adjusted properly.

Would I buy the 2109 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec? For a second car in the family, yes. It’s a bit on the small side and access to the back isn’t all that convenient. But simplly approach it like a two-passenger vehicle and it’s a good choice among spunky compacts.


Monday, September 17, 2018

CHEVY MOVES TRAVERSE INTO SECOND GENERATION WITH REDESIGN FOR 2018


Chevrolet apparently has been busy lately in updating its fleet of crossovers and SUVs.

The 2018 Traverse is the fourth SUV/crossover that the manufacturer has updated within a year, joining the Equinox, Trax, and Bolt EV in that category.

Introduced as a 2009 model to replace the truck-based Trailblazer, the Traverse moved into its second generation as a 2018 model with new, bolder styling, more safety features, two new trim levels, and other updates that make it a very viable option in its class, especially for growing families who need lots of room for both passengers and their stuff.

Modifications to second-row seating accommodations (either a folding bench seat or captain's chairs, depending on the trim level) provide easy access to what is a roomy third row (33.5 inches of legroom, 38.2 for headroom) that still leaves a nice cargo space (23 cubic feet and over 98 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded).

The Traverse is offered in several trim levels that start at $30,875 for the base L trim (including $945 destination and delivery) running to over $54,000 for the new High Country edition.

The all-wheel-drive Premier model that served as my test vehicle for a recent week started with a base MSRP of $47,350 and finished at $50,140 with Redline Edition features and the destination charge added on.


Other trim models are LS, LT, and RS with the LT ($37,040 with cloth seating, $43,640 with leather) expected to be the best seller.

Leather is standard on the Premier along with such features as keyless entry and push-button start, remote start, LED headlamps and taillights, fog lights, power hands-free lift gate, roof rails, trailering equipment, heated second-row seats, 8-way power driver's seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, tri-zone climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.


Safety equipment includes rear park assist, teen driver technology, rear cross traffic alert, lane change and blind spot alert, lane-keeping assist and departure warning, forward collision alert, low-speed forward auto braking, and surround vision camera, the latter an especially nice feature for vehicles of this size.

Finally, techno features include Chevrolet MyLink system with navigation, Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto access, OnStar capability, and satellite radio (3-month trial).

Chevy has been very aggressive in the tech area so naturally the Traverse gets a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot to keep you in touch with the world outside.

A 3.6-liter, V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque is standard across the line. It is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, and that combination produces ratings of 18 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway with front-wheel drive and 17/26 with available all-wheel drive. A 2.0-liter turbo available on RS models is earns numbers of 20/26.

That's a bit more horsepower and slightly better fuel mileage than what was offered by its predecessor and results in a performance that should satisfy all but the most power-hungry drivers. I never felt that I needed more in the situations I encountered.

What I liked about the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse Premier: Technological features are plentiful and operate off a user-friendly, 8-inch touchscreen. That touchscreen can be raised with the push of a button, giving access to a small storage space. Its spacious cabin gives the feel of a full-size SUV with lots of room for passengers and cargo. Captain's chairs provide easy to the third row.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse Premier: You can't turn off the stop-start system, though you can override it by gently -- and slightly -- releasing brake pressure once you come to a complete stop. Some of the more exotic options, like adaptive cruise control, are not available on lower trim levels.

Would I buy the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse Premier? Though classed as a midsize, the Traverse is a bit too big for my needs and tastes, but it could be just right for a couple with a growing family. It is functional in an attractive package.