The 2018 Traverse High Country Will Set You Back 50 Stacks

Overall auto sales are falling in the United States, but utility vehicle sales are not. This explains, in part, why average transaction prices are routinely rising to record levels — June 2017 ATPs were up 1.5 percent year-over-year, for example.

And what better way to take advantage of the American consumer’s willingness to pay more for a new family vehicle than with a new top-spec trim level. For the second-generation 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, that variant is called the High Country.

The High in High Country could represent one of two things. Either you need to be high to pay $52,995 for a Chevrolet Traverse or — and it could be the latter — the elevation of this Country is so High you’re about to suffer altitude sickness.

Perhaps there’s a third option. It could be an outstanding value.

The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse High Country, including destination, will require a jump of $4,700 from the next-most-expensive Traverse, the Premier AWD, CarsDirect has learned.

That places the base price for the Traverse High Country, which includes all-wheel drive as standard equipment, more than $4,600 beyond the (now smaller) GMC Acadia Denali AWD and only $3,695 less than the new Buick Enclave Avenir AWD.

It’s also 10-percent more costly than the Traverse Premier AWD, 18-percent more than the current top-spec 2017 Traverse, and 72-percent more than a basic 2018 Traverse.

There’s no shortage of perks. The third row is power-folding; the tailgate is power-operated. There’s brown leather, 20-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a panoramic roof, automatic braking with collision avoidance.

The Traverse High Country also features GM’s twin-clutch AWD system, which can distribute all of the 3.6-liter V6’s 310 horsepower to the front or rear axle without a differential. That AWD system isn’t available on lesser Traverses, though whether consumers recognize the difference from one AWD system to another isn’t fully known.

High Country is a trim level GM introduced on the Silverado in 2013, but it hardly carries the cachet or awareness of, say, GMC’s Denali sub-brand. Nevertheless, GM has rolled the Traverse up into very premium territory with the High Country badge.

The Lexus RX, which will offer a third-row variant next year, currently starts at $45,415 with AWD and is America’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle. AWD-equipped Acura MDXs start at $47,025; AWD Infiniti QX60s base at $45,895.

The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban 4×4, admittedly in base trim, is priced from $54,210.