General Motors pretty much invented the large 3-row crossover with the 2007 Saturn Outlook. That Lambda platform quickly spread to GMC, Buick, and Chevrolet and the General soon had quite a hit on their hands. Not surprisingly, a lot of non-GM brands are trying to mimic that success. So, for 2013, while the Outlook is history, the remaining GM trio gets some much needed updates. So let’s see what the “outlook” is for this “Big 3”.
The 2013 Buck Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse may not be the only full-size, seven and eight passenger crossovers around anymore, but their popularity remains.
We’ll start our tour through the updated trio with the luxurious Buick Enclave.
Among this group, the Enclave boasts the most features, and looks the classiest. Updates include a new instrument panel, standard Intellilink voice prompt and touch-screen radio with music apps, ambient lighting, and richer materials throughout.
High tech safety additions include an industry-first front center airbag, standard backup camera, and available Blind Zone and Cross Traffic Alerts.
The Enclave is already the sales leader in 3-row luxury crossovers, but both ride and performance have been improved thanks to a re-worked suspension and reprogramming of the 6-speed automatic transmission.
Exterior enhancements are fairly comprehensive for a mid-cycle refresh. More than just the usual updated fascias, the Enclave gets reshaped fenders, a new hood, and chrome side moldings.
The cabin is very comfortable and the wooden steering wheel looks and feels great, but gauges and controls still seem a generation behind. And while the ambient lighting is welcomed, the aqua green color divided us. Our Enclave’s second row captain’s chairs were very comfortable, but the SmartSlide feature wasn’t as smart or as easy to operate as some newer rivals. Maximum cargo rooms remains at the top of its class though, at a huge 115.2 cubic feet.
On the road, the Enclave is ultra-smooth with Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” tuning out all but a little engine noise.
Moving on to the Chevrolet Traverse, you might think it would be a huge step down from the Enclave. But, save for the Enclave’s steering wheel and trim, they actually share a lot; from side body panels to Hill Start Assist brakes.
We also found the Traverse very attractive inside, and GM has added lots of soft touch materials with exposed stitching and again, ambient lighting. Chevrolet’s MyLink apps radio works very well, including its many voice activated features. The only up-to-date item the Traverse lacks is push button start.
Traverse also gets an exterior makeover, but one that portends more of a sporty theme than Enclave’s luxury essence. This full-bodied threesome all share the same power-train, a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 with output based on single or dual exhausts, but maxing out at 288-horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque. That’s enough to tow 5,200-pounds.
And that brings us to the final member of our trio, the GMC Acadia, which we choose for track work.
With a slow but steady feel, we think that 8.0-seconds to 60 and 16.4 for the 1/4-mile at 84 miles-per-hour is pretty good for such a big vehicle. And if you have to navigate some curves on the way, the all-independently sprung Acadia proved more than capable here as well; attacking our cone course with confidence, good grip, and feeling much smaller than it is.
Acadia also gets a fairly comprehensive update to the interior……as well as the exterior. The Acadia is by far the most rugged looking of the three.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are acceptable for a big family hauler, with our all-wheel-drive Acadia rating 16-City, 23-Highway and 18-Combined. We managed 21.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Making the Energy Impact Score a bit worse than average at 18.3 barrels of annual oil use with CO2 emissions of 8.1-tons.
With such extensive updates, you expect a jump in price, and indeed prices have climbed a bit, ranging from $31,370 for a base Traverse to $48,840 for a top of the line GMC Acadia Denali.
We sure do love these big crossovers, both for their room and for their easy to maneuver nature that belies their size. But we don’t think they’ve changed enough to leapfrog newcomers like the Infiniti JX and Nissan Pathfinder. Still, the Enclave, Traverse, and Acadia provide a wide choice of big family people movers with an “outlook” that remains good.
2013 Chevrolet Traverse:
Engine: 3.6-liter direct-injection V6
Torque: 270 lb-ft.
2013 GMC Acadia:
0-60 mph: 8.0-seconds
1/4 mile: 16.4 seconds @ 84 mph
EPA: 16 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 18.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 emissions: 8.1 tons/yr