Pheasant Hunting with 2018 Chevrolet Traverse
Can the three-row SUV haul the kids and be a hunting rig?
The three-row 2018 Chevrolet Traverse may not be the first vehicle you think of to take hunting, but it is more than capable of doing double duty – hauling kids and hunting gear. We take it out and see just how it holds up.
For years, the hunting SUV of choice from Chevrolet has been the truck-frame riding Tahoe or the large Suburban. However, things have changed and the Traverse has grown in size and capability. Completely redesigned for 2018, the SUV has more cargo space, sliding second-row seating, a bunch of new technology and a new 3.6L V6 engine mated to 9-speed transmission. Plus, it sports a much more aggressive look than years past.
Putting all of these new features and performance to work, we headed out to harvested corn fields of Eastern Nebraska and Western Nebraska in search of the elusive ring-necked rooster pheasant. The trip would take me from town out into the country on the highway and then on the dirt farmer trails. While my test model was the Premier and it lacked the new dual-clutch AWD technology found in the higher-trim High Country, the left-over muddy ruts weren’t all that bad and the Traverse plowed right through.
On the dry highway, the 3.6L V6 made quick work of getting up to speed, and the 9-speed transmission was quick to shift into high gear. There was also a lack of a memorable feeling of shifting, making the ride really smooth. This powertrain produces 310 HP and 266 lb-ft of torque while returning an EPA estimated 17/25 MPG city/highway. These are both large improvements over the 2017 model, which produced 288 HP while returning 15/22 MPG city/highway.
While on the drive, I played around with some of the optional $475 “driver confidence II package” features. This package offers a variety of safety equipment like: following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low-speed forward auto braking, front pedestrian braking, intellibeam auto high beam control headlamps. While lane assist isn’t for everyone (I’m 50/50 on whether I like it), the auto high beam and forward collision braking including low-speed and pedestrian are great features. They should be standard on all models.
On the dry highway, the 3.6L V6 made quick work of getting up to speed, and the 9-speed transmission was quick to shift into high gear. There was also a lack of a memorable feeling of shifting, making the ride really smooth.
Keeping it between the lines, the 3.6L V6 providing plenty of power for my needs and offers up to 5,000 lbs of towing. The only nag on the powertrain is a lack of driving fun behind the wheel. The optional 2.0L turbo engine found on the RS trim would help with this.
Unlike other hunting trips, my cargo needs were light with only the shotgun and backpack taking up room in the second row. However, I did put down a dog mat and brought the lab along. She really gave me a good sense on how large the rear was since I had the third row up to keep her contained. There was plenty of space for her without sacrificing seating area if I had brought other passengers.
Walking the fields resulted in a few shots, yet no birds. Unfortunately, a group of hunters in the nearby field were having the luck and they bagged several while I despondently looked on.
I put down a dog mat and brought the lab along. She really gave me a good sense on how large the rear was since I had the third row up to keep her contained. There was plenty of space for her without sacrificing seating area if I had brought other passengers.
Climbing back into the Traverse after a morning spent walking, it was struck me how comfortable the interior was for my needs. Simply put, I just fit. I mean the controls, seat, mirrors and storage really were well suited for my needs. It is the kind of SUV you can see yourself and your family going on a road trip with no concerns.
Even though, I still think the Tahoe’s ground clearance gives it an edge getting off the pavement, the Traverse is no slouch and performed admirably well for my needs. Plus, priced at $46,265 (considerably cheaper than a comparably equipped large SUV), the savings are substantially.
In the end, the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is another solid step forward for Chevy mid-size SUVs and its versatility from family hauler to hunting vehicle shouldn’t be overlooked.