The Chevrolet Traverse was the last of GM's Lambda platform crossovers to be launched, but being last provided some advantages. For example, the GMC Acadia, which was first out the gate, was introduced with a sequential port-injected version of GM's high-feature 3.6-liter V-6, but the Traverse launched from the start with the direct injection version that offers 281 hp with the single-exhaust configuration and 288 hp with the dual exhaust. As such, when GM was working on the face lift for the 2013 Traverse, it chose to leave the engine alone, confining powertrain updates to slight transmission calibration changes designed to improve response and fuel economy.

The Traverse may have had the advantage of a more modern powertrain when it launched, but it also had the most anonymous and forgettable styling of the bunch, an issue that has been rectified with significant changes to the front and rear fascias. The nose of the 2013 Traverse bears a strong resemblance to that of the 2014 Impala (the design is believed to be the future face of most of Chevy's passenger cars). The rear of the 2013 Traverse is livened up by relocating the license plate housing from the lower bumper to the tailgate and topping it with a chrome accent strip. The taillights also get a little more personality with units that resemble those on the 2013 Malibu and Camaro.

Chevrolet also retuned the Traverse's suspension settings for more responsiveness and better handling of small impacts caused by imperfections such as uneven pavement and road expansion joints. It proved surprisingly nimble with a load of four passengers and luggage on the back roads outside San Francisco on which we drove it, handling the turns without undue drama. The aforementioned transmission updates also resulted in quicker shifts. Despite its 281 hp, the V-6 still has to do a good amount of work to get the Traverse's 2.5 tons moving. Strained isn't exactly the right word, as it gets up to speed quickly enough, but it relies on revs more than you might expect for a vehicle of this class. The other traditional Lambda strengths of good road noise insulation, a smooth ride, and generous three-row room carry over.

As the volume-brand model, the Traverse doesn't have all the niceties of its more upscale counterparts like the Acadia Denali and Enclave, but 2013 brings some significant improvements to the interior trim, with soft-touch upper dashboards, ambient lighting, and the integration of Chevrolet's MyLink interface into the center stack.

With MyLink, you can stream Pandora and Stitcher wirelessly on Android and Blackberry devices, and on Apple iOS through a USB connection. Integration with other apps is in development. "Pass-through" voice control of apps on the mobile devices is another area GM is working on with this technology, but the carmaker acknowledged the challenges in terms of the quality of voice recognition on apps not modulated or processed natively through MyLink.

The topline Traverse LTZ is available with a abundance of equipment, such as memory seats, tri-zone climate control, and dual-pane moonroof. GM's brand stratification still keeps some equipment exclusive to the more upscale Buick and GMC models, but most of the major comfort and convenience features pertinent to family comfort and entertainment are available on the Traverse. Models with the component inputs also include a 115V AC power plug in the rear seat.

Pricing for the 2013 Traverse has not been announced, but a modest price hike would not be unexpected considering the updates and refinements to the model. The updates may not be revolutionary, but address a few of the key areas where the Traverse was trailing its rivals. The fresher styling will likely appeal to a broader sector of the buyers, and the new MyLink interface brings the vehicle more in line with consumer tastes and preferences, as well as setting the stage for future updates bringing further functionality and integration. It may be one of the biggest and heaviest of the three-row crossovers, but the Traverse still delivers ample practicality and comfort at a good value.

2013 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE
BASE PRICE $32,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-8-pass, 5-door SUV
ENGINE 3.6L/281-288 hp, 266-270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve direct-injected V-6 (single/dual exhaust)
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4713-4956 lb, FWD-AWD (mfr)
WHEELBASE 118.9 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 203.9 x 78.5 x 69.9 in
0-60 MPH 8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 16-17/23-24 mpg (FWD/AWD)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY198-211 /140-147 kW-hrs/100 mi (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.99-1.05 lb/mi
ON SALE IN U.S. November 2012