In Chevrolet parlance, RS typically stands for Rallye Sport and is applied to sporty-looking (if not actually sporty) trim packages. As applied to the 2018 Traverse, RS means you get blacked-out exterior trim and wheels, a few choice option packages—and the lineup’s sole four-cylinder engine. Every other Traverse is powered by a V-6.
The only practical downside to the four-cylinder RS—on paper, at least—is that, unlike the V-6, it can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. The 2.0-liter turbo four thus directs its 257 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission to the Traverse’s front wheels. The V-6’s 310 ponies have the four-cylinder beat, but the turbo four’s torque has the six licked by 29 lb-ft, although that peak arrives at a slightly higher engine speed.
We suspect the RS won’t accelerate with quite the same gusto as the six-cylinder Traverses we’ve tested—the front-drive model hit 60 mph in a quick 6.3 seconds, the all-wheel-drive version in 6.5—although around town the RS might feel gutsier thanks to its torque advantage.
As you might expect, the four-cylinder Traverse nabs the highest EPA-estimated combined fuel-economy figure in the lineup: 22 mpg, better than the front-drive V-6’s 21 and the all-wheel-drive V-6’s 20 mpg. The four-cylinder Traverse’s 20-mpg city estimate also betters its siblings’ 18- and 17-mpg estimates, even though, curiously, its 26-mpg highway rating is 1 mpg shy of the front-drive V-6’s and only 1 mpg better than the all-wheel-drive V-6’s.
Standard equipment is generous and includes the Convenience and Driver Confidence package that is optional on the less expensive Traverse LT. It adds heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen in place of a 7.0-inch unit, remote engine starting, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. Other goodies include leather (in the first two rows only), three-zone automatic climate control, and a 360-degree parking camera. The price of the Traverse LT is $43,490, which represents a $900 premium over the similarly equipped six-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Traverse LT. Strangely, customers can outfit a V-6 Traverse to impersonate an RS by way of the $575 Black Accent package and $1495 black-painted 20-inch wheels, bringing the LT’s price to $45,160. So, if you’re a fan of mild fuel-economy improvements, black-colored exterior trim, and well-equipped three-row crossovers and don’t need all-wheel drive, the RS could be for you.