Seating for eight people in a car used to be reserved for minivans or gargantuan full-sized SUVs like the Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition, or even the blue oval’s hulking Excursion. But that duality has been remedied with the rise of three-row midsize SUVs, with the Chevy Traverse serving as one of the finest examples of this new paradigm.
After years with a rounded-off design, Chevy redesigned the Traverse for the 2018 model year with a more angular look, a bigger grille, a more squared trunk with more cargo space, and a revamped interior. Even at its base trim (which has a starting MSRP below thirty thousand dollars), the cabin feels surprisingly upscale. But just because it looks good doesn’t mean it doesn’t perform well. Its 3.6L V6 engine, while not massively powerful like some of the options available on competitors like the Dodge Durango or Ford Edge, has respectable power for everyday driving and even a little bit of towing.
There is no bigger option, but the 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque under the hood of the Traverse provide enough strength for plenty of towing needs. If you want to learn more about the Chevy Traverse’s towing capacity and what it means for you, we’ll go over what options you will need on your Traverse.
Chevy Traverse Without the Trailering Package: 1,500 Pounds
You can get a little bit of towing out of the basic Chevy Traverse, but it will take a few extra steps, and it will be fairly limited. If you buy a Chevy Traverse without the optional trailering package, you will have to buy an aftermarket trailering hitch.
These will only run you a few hundred dollars, and they do add a lot of versatility to your car. You can have one professionally installed, or if you consider yourself a skilled home mechanic, you can bolt the trailering hitch to the chassis yourself. But keep in mind, even if you buy a hitch rated for 5,000 pounds, you should always listen to the car manufacturer’s warning and stay below 1,500 pounds when towing with your Chevy Traverse.
The towing capacity is not just limited by the hitch attached to the car but also by the engine, the suspension, the cooling system, the braking system, and many other factors that the designers and engineers have factored in to determine that number. The available trailering package adds more than just a hitch.
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How to Make the Most Out of Towing Without the Trailering Package
Even without some of the more high-tech features offered in the trailering package, the base models of the Chevy Traverse offer some features to make towing a little easier. All Traverses come with Chevy’s patented Stabilitrak traction control system, which allows you to select from two or four different modes (depending on whether your car is front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, respectively) for different driving situations.
While the front-wheel-drive model only offers normal mode and snow mode, the all-wheel-drive offerings have FWD mode to save fuel, 4x4 mode for better traction, Off-Road mode for better driving on rough terrain, and finally Tow/Haul mode, which keeps the Traverse’s transmission in a lower gear to provide more torque, and it can also divert power more to the wheels that can use it most.
This feature won’t let you tow more than 1,500 pounds, but it should improve your experience towing what it can. And what it can tow is mostly small trailers with smaller equipment such as lawnmowers, jet skis, kayaks, motorcycles, and more. You can even haul a partly loaded 4x8 U-Haul trailer. The trailer itself weighs 850 pounds, so you can’t pack a whole apartment in there, but it might be good for one or two sofas and maybe some tables. It’s nothing to write home about, but having any towing ability adds a lot of versatility to your vehicle.
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Chevy Traverse with the Trailering Package: 5,000 Pounds
On top of a built-in tow hitch, the trailering package adds a heavy-duty cooling system. Without it, the strain of hauling an additional 5,000 pounds behind a 4,500-pound car would be too strenuous and overheat the engine. When the engine overheats, you run the risk of cracking essential engine parts such as pistons, the head gasket, or even the engine block.
This can lead to some exceptionally expensive repairs if the car even is salvageable. Luckily, this is of little concern if you’ve purchased a Traverse with the trailering package. This package is available as an optional upgrade on the LT, RS, and Premium trims, and it comes standard on the High Country Trim, meaning you can’t get this performance out of the L or LS trims.
With 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, there is a lot you can do. You can fully load a 6x12 cargo trailer now, and you can upgrade from one or two jet skis to a whole regatta of them or a speed boat if that’s more your style. If the need ever arises, you could even tow another car with the upgraded Chevy Traverse’s towing capacity, assuming you had the right equipment such as a dolly trailer or tow bar.
When you include the weight of the equipment needed to do so, you should probably stick to sedans or small hatchbacks if you want to try this, but with a little technical know-how, you could possibly flat tow a Jeep Wrangler behind you. This can be great if you just have more cars than drivers available for a move or if you have an off-roader that doesn’t handle the highways too well. If you love the spirit of adventure and hitting the open road, you may be happy to know that the jump from 1,500 pounds to 5,000 pounds allows you way more options for RVing.
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While you could certainly find some bare-bones teardrop trailers or pop-up campers that the base model could tow, the extra capacity of the trailering package opens up a lot more options with luxurious amenities or space for those eight people who fit inside your car. There are other midsize SUVs such as the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee that offer stronger performance, but the Traverse’s towing capacity should get the job done for most SUV owners.
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