The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is now in full swing, bringing with it a fresh batch of debuts to ogle and pick apart. Chevrolet is showing up to the party with a new RS version of its Traverse mid-size SUV, and as you might have guessed from the addition of the two letters to the tail, it’s a more aggressive iteration of the high-riding utility vehicle. However, despite the sporty connotations, the Traverse RS isn’t really all that impressive when it comes to its performance. Rather, we think the extra torque, new styling bits, and fancy tech in the cabin make it better suited for the rigors of daily driving.
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The Full Story
Let’s jump right into it with a look at what the Traverse RS has under the hood. The RS is actually the first Traverse model to come equipped with a turbocharged engine, with Chevy installing a 2.0-liter Ecotec four-banger under the hood for motivation. Put your foot down, and it’ll make upwards of 257 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, with 90 percent of the available twist arriving at just 2,100 rpm.
Compared to the 3.6-liter V-6 you’d normally find in the engine bay, that’s a full 29 pound-feet upgrade, a not-so-insignificant sum, even for a heavy SUV. Unfortunately, horsepower is down a whopping 53 ponies.
The thing is, we’re okay with that. While losing more than 50 horsepower is usually a surefire way to get on our bad side, the Traverse was never really anyone’s go-to for coaxing out those performance giggles. Rather, this thing is all about practicality, and more torque is really what you want for around-town driving. The extra grunt down low will make it feel like there’s a bigger engine under the hood, and should help buyers perform passing maneuvers and quick on-ramp merging.
Routing it all to the ground is a nine-speed automatic transmission. Up front there are active grille shutters that help the Traverse become more streamlined at speed, cutting into fuel consumption. Unfortunately, the loss of two cylinders doesn’t do a whole lot for mileage, with the RS managing 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Compared to the ’six, those numbers represent a small 1-mpg loss on the highway, and a small 2-mpg improvement in the city. Once again, though, if this is your daily and you use it for errands, the extra stop-and-go miles are what you really want.
Next up, let’s take a look at the styling improvements. When making something an “RS” model, Chevy has a pretty straight-forward formula – add black. Such is the case with the RS, and we think it’s stuff that shoulda been added from the factory.
For example, there’s a black grille, black window trim, black roof rails, black Chevy bowtie emblems, and the 20-inch aluminum wheels get a “Dark Android” (basically a dark gun metal) finish. It looks good on the SUV, and should help the model strut its stuff while out and about.
Further standard features include HID headlights and LED daytime running lights, both solid compliments to the dark trim pieces.
Meanwhile, the cabin gets all the usual SUV features. Max cargo room is set at 98.2 cubic feet, which isn’t bad for the segment. There’s also a power liftgate to assist loading and unloading. The upholstery include black leather, while the front seats are heated. There’s also three-zone climate control.
The tech is on point too, and includes an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation plus 4G Wi-Fi and an optional hot spot. Finally, the driver assist tech throws in all the right stuff for the daily grind, including remote start, Lane Change Alert and blind spot monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist, Surround Vision, Rear Camera Mirror, Rear Seat Reminder, and a Teen Driver function.
The Chevrolet Traverse RS starts at $43,095, landing it more or less in the middle of the range and broadening it to six trim choices total.
Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.
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