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.