2018 Chevrolet Traverse RS is More Expensive, Less Efficient, and Front-Driven

Priced at $42,995 including destination fees, the late-arriving 2018 Chevrolet Traverse RS is an oddly positioned member of the second-generation Traverse lineup.

The RS is the only four-cylinder member of the fleet — it’s down 53 horsepower on the 3.6-liter V6 in other Traverses — and yet a basic Traverse RS costs $12,120 more than the least costly Traverse.  The RS consumes more fuel on the highway, albeit slightly less in the city. It’s also available exclusively as a front-wheel-drive model.

Ah, but GM says it’s “sporty.”

According to CarsDirect, the $42,995 2018 Traverse RS resides $505 above the Traverse LT Leather; $2,795 below the Traverse Premier. All-wheel drive is, of course, an option on those models. The Traverse RS stands out with blacked-out highlights: black chrome grille, black bowtie, black roof rails, dark 20-inch wheels. (With no official images yet, the picture above is of the Traverse Premier Redline. Imagine it without the, er, red lines.)

Inside, the Traverse RS is equipped much like the comparably priced LT Leather: 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, rear camera mirror, surround view camera, 2-2-3 seven-passenger seating configuration, power front seats, tilt steering with no telescope, Bose audio.

But while the Traverse RS shares a nine-speed automatic with the V6-powered Traverses, the RS downgrades from the 310-horsepower 3.6-liter to a 255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, admittedly with 29 more lb-ft of torque. Highway fuel economy drops from 27 miles per gallon to 25; city fuel economy rises from 18 miles per gallon to 20.

Essentially then, paying for a sporty appearance package necessitates the removal of the thumping naturally aspirated V6. Fair trade? Expect to see more or less similar equipment offerings just like this from General Motors depending on demand for the Traverse RS. And if it turns out that the torquier turbo powerplant is appreciated by consumers, don’t be surprised to see its application broaden in the Traverse range.

For now, it seems like an odd choice.

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