Developing the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse

They took a clean-sheet approach on developing the second-generation, three-row crossover.

Not Separated At Birth
With all of the activity in the crossover segment, it is somewhat hard to believe that the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is the second generation of the three-row vehicle. The first-gen Traverse appeared in 2008 as a model year 2009 vehicle. This is not to say that the vehicle has stayed frozen in amber for the last nine years, as there have been enhancements and modifications made along the way.

But for the 2018 Traverse, Dean Perelli, the vehicle chief engineer, says, they did a completely new vehicle, outside, inside and under the hood.

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When the first-gen Traverse came out, it shared a substantial amount of its underpinnings (a.k.a., the Lambda platform) with the GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave. The second-gen Acadia appeared as a 2017 model year crossover. They are both on a newly developed platform (which is no longer called Lambda). But the Traverse is built at the Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan and the Acadia at the Spring Hill plant in Tennessee.

And while the Traverse and the Acadia have similarities, Perelli points out that these are two distinctly different vehicles.

Take the dimensions, for example:

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Which is to point out that while they may be related, they’re cousins at most, and certainly not twins (well, at least not identical).

Actually, the 2018 Traverse is similar in exterior dimensions to the 2017 model (the new one has a 2-inch longer wheelbase, is 0.6 inches longer, 0.1 inch wider and 0.8 inches wider, yet they’ve managed to increase the space for the second-row passengers by 7 percent, the third-row passengers by 11 percent and added 17 percent to the cargo room behind the third row.

Better Ride
One of the things that Perelli thinks is notable about the 2018 Traverse is the new chassis and suspension. He says that one of the issues with developing a suspension setup for a vehicle like this is to provide a sweet spot between having an isolated ride yet good handling. Realize that this is a big vehicle, and in addition to the aforementioned dimensions, know that the Traverse has a curb weight of 4,362 pounds.

Up front: MacPherson strut independent with hydraulic control arm ride bushings and hollow stabilizer bar. There is an isolated cradle. ZF pre-loaded valve (PLV) passive dampers with rebound springs. 

In back: Five-link independent setup. Uses an isolated rear cradle with a hydraulic forward mount. There are cross-axis ball joints and a hollow stabilizer bar. There are ZF PLV 18/36 shocks. And there are newly-developed (patent pending) auxiliary spring aids.

While on the subject of ride and handling, there are an electric variable-effort power steering system with active return assist and four-wheel-disc brakes with power assist (using Duralife rotors, which have a hardened and strengthened surface to reduce corrosion).

Mass Efficient
About that aforementioned curb weight. Perelli points out that the body-in-white of the 2018 Traverse is actually 111 pounds lighter than its predecessor and the overall vehicle mass is down by 362 pounds.

A big contributor to the weight-save is the use of high-strength steels. The percentage of stamped steel usage by mass:
• 36 percent dual-phase and multi-phase steels
• 20 percent high-strength, low-alloy steel
• 17 percent bake-hardenable steel
•  7 percent martensite and press-hardened steels
• 20 percent mild steel

In terms of the vehicle body and structure, there is no aluminum used; it is all steel. Perelli also says that in addition to welding, there is 120-feet of adhesive used to help create a stiff body structure.

Perelli: “The mantra we had when developing this vehicle: ‘No Compromise.’”