Evaluating the Chevrolet Traverse: The 5 Best and Worst Model Years

Choosing a used vehicle can be an intimidating process, especially when it comes to understanding which model years have been the most reliable. In this blog post, we are focusing on the Chevrolet Traverse, an SUV known for its ample interior space and powerful performance.

But as with all models, some years have been better than others. For potential buyers, it’s crucial to know which years to consider and which to avoid. Thus, let’s delve into the five best and worst years for the Chevrolet Traverse, based on overall reliability, consumer reviews, and reported issues.

In a hurry? The best years for Chevrolet Traverse are 2020, 2018, 2016, 2012, and 2009 while the worst years are 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2009.

5 Best Chevrolet Traverse Years

1.     2020

The 2020 Chevrolet Traverse received high praise for its smooth ride, roomy interior, and fuel efficiency. With its 3.6L V6 engine, it offered a robust performance, making it a popular choice among families who wanted a reliable SUV for long trips. The 2020 Traverse also excelled in safety, earning a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

Updated infotainment features, including a standard 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, further boosted its appeal. This model year also saw the introduction of the Traverse’s optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine, offering an ideal balance between power and economy.

2020 Chevrolet Traverse High Country interior view.

2.     2018

The 2018 Traverse was a complete redesign that greatly improved the vehicle’s driving dynamics, interior design, and technology features. This model came with a new nine-speed automatic transmission, which improved fuel efficiency and provided smoother transitions. The interior boasted high-quality materials and spacious three-row seating, making it a comfortable choice for larger families.

The 2018 model also introduced a plethora of standard tech features, including the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch display, six USB ports, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety features like the Teen Driver system and a rearview camera also enhanced its reputation among families.

3.     2016

The 2016 model was a favorite among owners for its powerful V6 engine, smooth and quiet ride, and roomy, comfortable interior. Notably, this year saw improvements in technology, including a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, which was a big hit among consumers.

The 2016 Traverse also scored well in safety, including a top score in the IIHS’s side impact test. Its reliability was considered above average for its class, and consumer reviews often highlighted its durability and low maintenance costs, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a long-term, dependable vehicle.

4.     2012

The 2012 Chevrolet Traverse stood out for its comfortable ride and spacious interior. This model offered seating for up to eight people, which made it popular among larger families. It also featured a refined powertrain that provided enough power for most driving situations.

The 2012 Traverse was lauded for its safety features, earning a top safety pick award from the IIHS. It also had a reasonably good reliability rating, with many owners reporting that their vehicles had experienced few major issues over several years of ownership.

2012 Chevy Traverse exterior view.

5.     2009

The inaugural 2009 Traverse was a notable entry into the midsize SUV market. It delivered a comfortable ride, a versatile and spacious cabin, and an impressive array of standard features for its time. The vehicle was powered by a robust 3.6-liter V6 engine that provided plenty of power while maintaining decent fuel efficiency.

Safety was a priority in this model, with stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain-type airbags, antilock brakes, and a tire pressure monitoring system as standard features. Despite some initial model-year hiccups, the 2009 Traverse has proven to be reliable and enduring, as reflected in positive long-term ownership reviews.

5 Worst Years For The Chevrolet Traverse

1.     2009

While the 2009 Traverse had its strengths, as noted in the previous section, it wasn’t without some significant issues. As the first model year, it suffered from a few teething problems. Some owners reported transmission failure and issues with the power steering pump and rack.

There were also instances of premature timing chain wear, which could result in major engine damage if not addressed quickly. Even though these issues did not affect all vehicles, they were common enough to tarnish the reputation of this model year.

2.     2011

The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse had several recurrent issues that made it one of the less desirable model years. Major complaints included a faulty power steering pump, premature timing chain wear, and problems with the AC and heating system.

These issues not only resulted in costly repairs but also contributed to decreased reliability ratings for this model year. The 2011 Traverse was also part of several recalls, further undermining its standing among consumers.

3.     2013

This model year was plagued with some severe engine issues. Owners reported problems like high oil consumption, which could lead to catastrophic engine failure if not monitored and rectified promptly.

Other commonly reported problems included the failure of the AC and heating systems and problems with the power steering pump. These issues resulted in a lower-than-average reliability rating for this model year and have made 2013 Traverse a model to avoid.

2013 Chevy Traverse 3.6L engine.

4.     2015

While the 2015 Traverse came with several standard features and a spacious interior, it was also marked by several reliability issues. The most common problems reported by owners were related to the engine and transmission. Owners reported engine misfires, excessive oil consumption, and transmission failure.

There were also complaints about the vehicle’s electrical system, including problems with the navigation and entertainment systems. These issues significantly increased the cost of ownership and decreased the overall dependability of the 2015 model.

5.     2017

The 2017 Traverse was one of the last of the first generation and unfortunately, it carried some of the recurring issues of its predecessors. The vehicle was known for its high oil consumption and transmission problems. Furthermore, there were several reports of AC and heating system failures.

The 2017 model was also part of a significant recall involving the airbags and seat belts, which posed a potential safety risk. Given these factors, the 2017 Traverse is generally not recommended as a used vehicle purchase.

Years With The Most Complaints

According to various consumer reports and vehicle history data, 2011, 2012, and 2009 models have the highest number of complaints from Chevrolet Traverse owners.

Common complaints for these model years include transmission issues, excessive oil consumption, problems with the timing chain, and faults in the steering system.

Common Problems With Chevrolet Traverse

1.      Transmission Problems

A recurring issue with some Traverse model years, notably 2009 and 2011, involves transmission failure. Complaints often include abrupt shifting, a lack of response in the transmission, or complete transmission failure, which requires an expensive replacement.

These issues can arise due to faulty transmission control modules or problems with the transmission’s internal components.

Mechanic working on car transmission.

2.      High Oil Consumption

Some Traverse models, particularly from the 2013 and 2015 model years, have been reported to consume oil excessively. This problem can lead to engine damage over time if not addressed promptly.

Signs of this issue include a low oil level between oil changes, oil leaks, or the presence of blue smoke from the exhaust.

3.      Timing Chain Wear

Premature timing chain wear is another problem often reported in the Chevrolet Traverse, notably in the 2009 and 2011 models. This issue can lead to serious engine damage if not resolved. Symptoms include a rattling noise from the engine, rough idling, or even the engine failing to start.

4.      Power Steering Pump and Rack Issues

Issues with the power steering pump and rack have been reported in several model years of the Traverse, including the 2009 and 2011 models. Problems may include difficulty steering, a squealing noise when turning the wheel, or complete loss of power steering.

This issue can increase the risk of a crash, particularly at lower speeds when steering effort is typically higher.

5.      AC and Heating System Failures

Another common problem is the failure of the AC and heating systems, especially in the 2011 and 2013 models. Owners have reported issues ranging from the air conditioning not cooling sufficiently to the heating system not working correctly. This problem can cause discomfort for occupants, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Woman suffering from heat in the car.

6.      Electrical System Problems

The Traverse, specifically the 2015 model year, has also been reported to have issues with its electrical systems. These issues often involve the vehicle’s entertainment and navigation systems.

Symptoms may include the infotainment screen freezing, navigation errors, or the sound system not working properly. While this problem doesn’t pose a safety risk, it can be a significant inconvenience for owners.

7.      Airbags and Seat Belts Recall

The 2017 Traverse was part of a significant recall due to problems with the airbags and seat belts. The issue could prevent the airbags from deploying or the seat belts from functioning correctly during a crash.

This issue not only affected the reliability rating of this model year but also posed a potential safety risk for the vehicle’s occupants.

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Chevrolet Traverse

1.      Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is a strong alternative to the Chevrolet Traverse. Known for its reliability and strong resale value, the Pilot offers comfortable seating for up to eight passengers.

It has a well-designed interior, plenty of standard safety features, and a smooth, powerful V6 engine. It also has a reputation for above-average fuel economy for the class.

2.      Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is another worthy consideration, boasting a reputation for excellent reliability and high resale value. It offers comfortable seating for up to eight and comes with a comprehensive suite of standard safety tech.

Its smooth ride, combined with solid fuel efficiency, especially in the Hybrid model, makes it a popular choice among midsize SUVs.

2023 Toyota Highlander on the road.

3.      Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is a robust midsize SUV known for its strong engine performance, including an available hybrid model. It offers spacious seating and a wealth of standard and available features, such as Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system. Its solid handling and ride comfort make it a strong competitor in its class.

4.      Mazda CX-9

The Mazda CX-9 is praised for its sporty handling and high-quality interior. While it doesn’t offer as much cargo space as some rivals, it makes up for it with its fun-to-drive nature and exceptional fuel economy. The CX-9 also stands out for its suite of standard safety features and an infotainment system that’s easy to use.

5.      Subaru Ascent

The Subaru Ascent is a well-rounded SUV with standard all-wheel drive, making it a great choice for areas with harsh weather conditions. It offers comfortable seating for up to eight and boasts a large cargo area. The Ascent is equipped with a host of standard safety features and is known for its stable and comfortable ride.

6.      Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride is a newcomer that has quickly become a top pick in the midsize SUV class. It provides ample seating space in all three rows, a long list of standard features, a potent V6 engine, and an upscale interior. The Telluride also boasts excellent safety scores and an industry-leading warranty.

2022 Kia Telluride inside a car showroom.

7.      Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade, akin to its corporate cousin the Kia Telluride, impresses with its upscale interior and comfortable, quiet ride. It provides spacious seating for up to eight passengers and a wealth of standard safety features.

Additionally, it has an intuitive infotainment system and is powered by a capable V6 engine. The Palisade’s blend of quality and value makes it a strong alternative to the Chevrolet Traverse.

Which Chevy Traverse Is Best?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the 2020 Chevy Traverse stands out as one of the best model years. This model stands out due to its impressive balance of power and fuel efficiency, ample interior space, and advanced infotainment features.

Additionally, it has earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, further boosting its reputation.

What Year Did Traverse Have Transmission Problems?

The most commonly reported transmission problems with the Chevrolet Traverse appear in the 2009 and 2011 model years. These years had issues with abrupt shifting, a lack of response in the transmission, and in some severe cases, complete transmission failure.

Do Chevy Traverse Last Long?

Like all vehicles, the lifespan of a Chevy Traverse greatly depends on its maintenance, driving habits, and the conditions it’s exposed to. However, many owners have reported that with regular servicing and proper care, a Chevrolet Traverse can comfortably exceed 200,000 miles.

It’s essential to pay attention to any potential common issues, like those mentioned above, to ensure your Traverse stays reliable for as long as possible. Regular oil changes and timely repairs can also significantly contribute to the lifespan of the vehicle.

How Does The Chevrolet Traverse Compare To Other Midsize SUVs?

The Chevrolet Traverse stands out in the midsize SUV segment due to its generous interior space with comfortable seating for up to eight people, a characteristic that not all competitors offer. It also shines when it comes to cargo space, with one of the largest capacities in its class.

Its powerful V6 engine delivers robust performance, and the ride quality is smooth and comfortable. However, some competitors may offer better fuel efficiency or come with a longer list of standard safety features.

What Should Potential Buyers Look For When Considering A Used Chevrolet Traverse?

When looking at a used Chevrolet Traverse, potential buyers should pay attention to the vehicle’s maintenance history and any reported issues. Look for signs of excessive oil consumption, which could point to engine problems, and listen for any unusual noises that might indicate issues with the timing chain.

Check for recalls that might have affected the particular model year you’re considering, and make sure any necessary repair work was completed.

What Is The Fuel Economy Of The Chevrolet Traverse?

The fuel economy of the Chevrolet Traverse varies by model year and specific configuration, but a common estimate for recent models is around 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. However, the Traverse’s fuel efficiency can be influenced by factors like driving conditions, vehicle load, and maintenance.

What Safety Features Does The Chevrolet Traverse Have?

The Chevrolet Traverse comes equipped with several standard safety features, including a rearview camera, traction control, and stability control. More recent models also include the Teen Driver safety system, which allows parents to set speed and audio volume limits for younger drivers.

Available safety features on newer models may include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring, among others.

What Is The Towing Capacity Of The Chevrolet Traverse?

When properly equipped, the Chevrolet Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds, making it suitable for pulling a small boat or trailer. However, keep in mind that towing at the maximum capacity can have an impact on the vehicle’s handling and fuel efficiency.

What Is The Price Range Of The Chevrolet Traverse?

The price of a Chevrolet Traverse can vary greatly depending on its age, mileage, condition, and trim level. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, a new Traverse starts at around $29,800 for the base trim and can go up to around $53,100 for the High Country trim. Prices for used models will vary based on factors like depreciation and condition.

Is The Chevrolet Traverse A Good Car For Families?

With its spacious interior, comfortable seating for up to eight, large cargo space, and a range of available safety features, the Chevrolet Traverse is a good car for families. It’s well-suited for everything from daily school runs to long road trips.

However, some competitors might offer more standard safety features, so it’s always worth shopping around to find the vehicle that best suits your family’s needs.


In conclusion, the Chevrolet Traverse is a competitive option in the midsize SUV market, offering roomy interiors, robust performance, and a comfortable ride. While it has had some problematic years, with proper care and maintenance, it can be a reliable family vehicle.

However, always be sure to thoroughly research and inspect any used vehicle before purchase, particularly for known issues and recall history. And remember, there are many alternatives available in the crowded midsize SUV market, so it’s beneficial to consider all options before making a decision.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!