Chevy is finally getting back on track in terms of design after a momentary lapse

Chevy’s SUV lineup is going through a lot of hustle and bustle lately. In December last year, the American automaker revealed the all-new Tahoe and Suburban. A month later, they reincarnated the Trailblazer moniker to add a seventh SUV/Crossover in the lineup.

Now, they have refreshed the Traverse. The Traverse wasn’t a good-looking vehicle until 2018 when it went through a rejig. The SUV is a bit more attractive now and that resulted in sales going up. In 2019, the Traverse recorded its best sales figures since its inception, and Chevrolet decided to keep the upward trend going by refreshing it again for the 2021 model.

The 2021 Chevy Traverse hasn’t gone through a lot of changes, but it is different from what we’ve been seeing in the last two years. This new model now looks meaner, sharper, and a lot more aggressive. The biggest difference comes in the form of new safety tech that Chevy seems to be introducing on all its refreshed models. The previous big change worked like a charm for the Traverse, but can this refresh replicate the same?

Does the 2021 Chevy Traverse Really Look Different?

  • Slim LED Headlights and Taillights
  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Boring Wheel Design
  • Side Profile Looks Plain Jane
  • Hands-free Tailgate
  • Generous Chrome Treatment All-Around
2021 Chevrolet Traverse Exterior
- image 892025
Chevy finally figured out a couple of years back that the Traverse with the minivan look just won’t work in the long run.

The 2021 Traverse looks even more aggressive than the pre-facelift and it looks quite good. Basically, the grille is split into two parts. This is a very subtle split, but it makes the face look very proportionate. The whole grille receives horizontal chrome slats. The two split-part slats and the borders on the sides are thicker than the other slats. The LED headlights are sleeker this time around and are aligned with the upper quarter of the grille. Flanking the grille in this part is the bowtie logo. When you look at such intricacies, you realize that the 2021 Traverse is actually quite a good looking SUV.

left right

The redesigned bumper is a muscular unit with lots of cuts and creases. The fog lamps sit a little deep in the housing and have LED Daytime Running Lights on the borders. These complement the DRLs in the headlamp clusters. So, basically, you have four LED DRL units on the face. Under the fog lamp clusters is a chrome strip that connects to the air dam section. The air dam in itself is a pretty large block. There is no faux skid plate here, but the black plastic cladding does give it a sporty look. Overall, I find the new Traverse to be very smart and handsome, and true to its rough-and-tough SUV nature.

The side profile accurately shows how big the Traverse actually is.

We don’t have the dimensions for the 2021 Traverse, but it shouldn’t be a lot different than the previous version. The 2020 Traverse measures 204.3 inches in length, 78.6 inches in width, and 70.7 inches in height. It also has a 120.9-inch wheelbase.

When compared to the competition, the Traverse is larger than all of them in almost all the departments. In High Country spec, the square wheel arches are painted in the body color and have the amber light markers on the front side. They are not flared and look very basic, to be honest. They’d look a lot sportier if they were either flared or given the black cladding treatment.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Exterior
- image 892027

The wing mirrors are way too small and look awful on an SUV of this stature. It looks like they’re lifted off a sedan. The door handles and window sills are covered in chrome, and so are the roof rails. There is a chrome bar at the bottom of the doors. The ‘High Country’ badge can be seen on the front side of the doors. The wheel design looks too plain and something funkier would’ve added a lot of character to the side profile. But, it looks like Chevy wanted to please all and offend none, and hence the safe approach to go with a neutral design.

Behind the thick C-pillar is the large rear quarter glass that is in line with the rear windshield. The A- and C-pillars are painted in body colors, whereas the B- and D- are black plastic pillars. Being a three-row SUV, the Traverse is surely long. Some people would’ve preferred a sloping roofline at the back, and I think it would actually look good, but it would eat up the headroom for the third-row passengers. In that sense, I’m glad Chevy chose function over form.

left right

The slim LED taillights have a lot of elements and details in them. While the shape is good and they look good in action, go up close and it looks too cluttered - similar to an unsolved Tetris game, if you may. A chrome bar runs from one taillight to the other, but there is a copper-colored section in between that aligns with the license plate housing under it.

The bowtie logo sits on this portion, whereas the Traverse badge sits on the left side of the tailgate. You can see the rearview camera popping out of here as well. The rear windshield is wide and short, but has a terribly small wiper. A spoiler sits atop it with the high-mounted center brake light placed on it. As for the roof, it is ribbed (which helps with the structural integrity but keeps the weight down) and comes with a shark-fin antenna at the back.

Some carmakers plonk a gaudy-looking holder on the tailgate itself to open the door. Chevy has instead given a nice large indent on the bumper that allows you to put your fingers in and pull the hatch up. Competition must take note of this to give the rear a clean look. If you don’t prefer this setup, you can try the hands-free power tailgate feature. All you need to do is wave your foot over the emblem projection under the rear bumper. The redesigned bumper receives a slim chrome slat with parking sensors underneath it. The bottom half receives the black plastic treatment and also houses an exhaust pipe on either side finished in a chrome tip. All-in-all, the 2021 Traverse looks good and will age gracefully.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (in. / mm): 120.9 / 3071
Overall Length (in. / mm): 204.3 / 5189
Overall Width (in. / mm): 78.6 / 1996
Overall Height (in. / mm): 70.7 / 1795
Track (in. mm): 67.3 / 1709 (front) 67 / 1702 (rear)

Did Chevy Upgrade the Interior of the 2021 Traverse?

  • Cockpit View Is Appealing
  • Digital Instrument Cluster
  • Chevy Infotainment 3 System
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Compatible
  • No Paddle Shifters Or Manual Gear Selector
  • Ample Cargo Space Even With All Seats In Place
2021 Chevrolet Traverse Interior
- image 892020
The 2021 Traverse’s interior looks premium. From the driver’s point-of-view, everything is laid out well.

The cabin doesn’t feel too cluttered, despite there being a lot of buttons all around. The meaty steering wheel has controls mounted on both sides and thumb contours. The eight-inch digital instrument cluster is flanked by two traditional gauges on either side. The left-hand-side displays the tachometer and the oil temperature gauge, whereas the right-hand-side shows the fuel level, engine temperature, and battery status. The center screen displays a multitude of information including the digital speedometer. This digital cluster is now standard on the Premier trim as well.

The three-tier dash looks plush. The center console houses Chevy’s Infotainment 3 system and vertically-placed air vents on either side. There are a few buttons and a knob under it to control the basic settings. The system itself isn’t the best one out there, but it does its job. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The piano black finish around it looks good but isn’t a wise choice considering it’s a fingerprint magnet.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Interior
- image 892014

Below the infotainment system is the HVAC control unit, and below that are a couple of USB ports, an auxiliary port, 12-Volt port, and a wireless charging pad. The gear lever console looks very premium with leather and chrome elements. Along with the gear lever, there are two cup holders, drive mode selector, auto start-stop button, and the electronic parking brake switch. Cup holders with covers would’ve looked better. The 2021 model also seems to have a frameless rearview camera mirror on the inside. There’s no word if this is a standard feature on the top-trim. Other than this, power-folding mirrors and a two-panel sunroof with a rear power sunshade are available on the 2021 Traverse.

The seats in the first two rows are comfortable in general and will please even the healthiest of passengers.

There are oodles of shoulder room, legroom, and headroom in the first and second row. In the third row, however, things are different. It would be a sin to expect Tahoe or Suburban type of space back there, but it is laughable in the Traverse. Even the seats look good but aren’t comfortable at all. Better engineering could’ve resulted in more space at the back because the Traverse is not a small vehicle by any means. The third row is suitable for kids at best, or two adults if you hate them or want them to hate you for life.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Interior
- image 892018

In the cargo space department, the 2021 Traverse shines. There are no official figures yet, but we expect them to have the same ratings as the 2020 Traverse. With all seats in place, you have 23 cubic-feet of cargo space available. Flip down the third row and the space increases to approximately 58 cubic-feet. If you lay down the second row as well, you’ll have over 98 cubic-feet of space at your disposal.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse interior dimensions
Headroom (in / mm): front: 41.3 / 1049 (without sunroof) 2nd row: 40 / 1016 (without sunroof) 3rd row: 38.2 / 970 (without sunroof)
Legroom (in. / mm): front: 41 / 1042 2nd row: 38.4 / 985 3rd row: 33.5 / 851
Shoulder Room        (in. / mm): front: 62.1 / 1577 2nd row: 62.2 / 1580 3rd row: 57.5 / 1460
Hip Room                (in. / mm): front: 58.1 / 1476 2nd row: 56.9 / 1445 3rd row: 48.5 / 1232

What Engines Are Available for the 2021 Chevy Traverse?

  • 3.6-liter, V-6 engine
  • 310 Horsepower
  • 266 Pound-Feet Of Torque
  • 0-60 mph in 6.9 Seconds
  • Top Speed 130 mph
  • Towing Capacity Rated At 5,000 Pounds
  • Fuel Economy 20 mpg Combined
2021 Chevrolet Traverse Exterior
- image 892024

For the 2020 model, Chevy dropped the 2.0-liter, four-pot turbocharged engine that made 257 horses and 295 pound-feet of torque. The only engine in the lineup now is the 3.6-liter, V-6 unit that makes 310 horses and 266 pound-feet of torque. Although the bigger engine pulls better than the now-extinct 2.0-liter, the torque figures are unimpressive. For an SUV that weighs over two tons, it’s just about adequate. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. You can choose the configuration that sends power to either the front wheels or all the four-wheels.

The towing capacity of the Chevrolet Traverse is rated at 5,000 pounds.

As for the performance figures, the Traverse takes 6.9 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark from a standstill and goes all the way up to 130 mph.

Chevy says the Traverse can deliver 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined. All these figures are in the ‘safe zone’, which means it doesn’t compromise on any front, but it doesn’t excel in any department either – be it the power outputs, performance figures, towing capacity, or fuel economy.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse specifications
Engine 3.6-liter, V-6
Horsepower 310 HP @ 6,800 RPM
Torque 266 LB-FT @ 2,800 RPM
Towing capacity 5,000 lbs
0 to 60 mph 6.9 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph
Fuel economy city/highway/combined 17/25/20

In terms of safety, the 2021 Traverse receives a host of new features. It now comes standard with active safety features like:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection
  • Active Lane Control
  • Automatic High Beams

How Much Does The 2021 Chevrolet Traverse Cost?

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Exterior
- image 892029

The prices for the 2021 model are not out yet, but they will be on par with the 2020 Traverse, perhaps a few hundred dollars higher. The prices mentioned below are for the 2020 two-wheels drive trims that include the destination fee, but not the discounts on offer:

2021 Chevrolet Traverse prices
2021 Chevrolet Traverse L $30,995
2021 Chevrolet Traverse LS $34,095
2021 Chevrolet Traverse LT $36,595
2021 Chevrolet Traverse LT Leather $40,295
2021 Chevrolet Traverse RS $44,795
2021 Chevrolet Traverse Premier $46,995
2021 Chevrolet Traverse High Country $52,095

Is the Chevy Traverse Better Than the Ford Explorer?

2020 Ford Explorer
- image 813506

The SUV from the Blue Oval is there on the roads since the early 90s. The Explorer is available in four trims in total. As is with any Ford product, the base trims are almost bare bones, whereas the top trims that come with all the creature comforts are pricey. Depending on the trim, the Explorer comes with two engine options – a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mill that makes 300 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.0-liter, V-6 EcoBoost that churns out 365 ponies and 380 pound-feet of torque. It can tow between 5,300 and 5,600 pounds, again, depending on the trim and configuration. The Ford Explorer starts at $36,700.

Read our full review on the 2020 Ford Explorer

Is the Chevy Traverse Better Than The Subaru Ascent?

2019 Subaru Ascent Exterior
- image 747795

This isn’t a popular choice or the one that is in the reckoning of most of the potential customers, but the Ascent is a well-packaged crossover that offers absolute bang for the buck. The Ascent is a highly versatile crossover. With all seats folded, you have about 88 cubic-feet at your disposal. Thanks to the spacious interior, loads of storage spaces, USB ports, and cup holders, the Ascent makes for a great family hauler. The top trim benefits from stuff like the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, moon roof, heated rear seats, and so on. The only fly in the ointment is the underpowered 2.4-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill. It makes 260 horses and 277 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a lousy yet efficient CVT. The Subaru Ascent starts retailing at $31,995 but tops out at just $45,045.

Read our full review on the 2020 Subaru Ascent

Final Thoughts

2021 Chevrolet Traverse Exterior
- image 892022

The Chevy Traverse, in the refreshed version, should be good to go until the next-gen arrives. The subtle changes to the exterior like the redesigned bumpers, LED headlights and taillights make it a smart SUV. Some features that were previously available only in the top trim have now trickled down to the lower trims, so that is a good touch. The last couple of years have been comparatively good for the Traverse and I don’t see a reason for it to fail now.

  • Leave it
    • Cramped third row
    • The V-6 engine is not punchy
Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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