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Road Test: 2014 Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet's big eight-passenger crossover, the Traverse, enters its sixth year for 2014, having received some exterior styling tweaks, interior enhancements and new technology just last year, all designed to make a great vehicle even better.

Arguably one of the best of its class, the Traverse boasts lots of room for the family and their stuff.

Changes last year brought a more-athletic exterior design, which included a new power-dome hood, horizontal grille, headlights, chrome accents, and sculpted front corners.

There were also new taillights and a new tailgate, and the cabin got some aesthetic upgrades, including contrast stitching, chrome and silver trim, and soft-touch surfaces on the doors and instrument panel.

In the middle of the dash is a standard touch-control radio with a 6.5-inch color screen, with the addition of the optional MyLink infotainment system, which is available with or without navigation.

Built on a car-style unibody structure, unlike traditional SUVs that are on a truck chassis, the Traverse is one of a trio of large crossovers from General Motors that share the same architecture. The others are the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, which also got makeovers for 2013.

Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, when equipped with dual exhaust outlets. EPA ratings are 17 mpg city/24 highway for the front-wheel-drive model, and 16 city/23 highway for the all-wheel drive.

Because the Traverse is intended to be a family vehicle, strong emphasis was placed on safety, with features to protect occupants before, during and after a crash. Among these are electronic stability control and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and rollover mitigation to help prevent one of the most dangerous of common SUV accidents. There are seat-mounted side air bags for the front-seat passengers, and roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows, along with the standard front air bags.

To assist after a crash, the Traverse comes with GM's OnStar satellite-based communications system, which reports automatically to an OnStar operator if the vehicle is involved in an accident.

The Traverse has earned the coveted Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the top scores in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse

Base price: $30,795

Price as tested: $44,020

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 281 horsepower

Length: 203.7 inches

Curb weight: 4,713 pounds

Cargo volume: maximum 116.3 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 5,200 pounds.

EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/24 highway

Bottom line: One of the best large crossovers

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