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What’s the most practical family car out there for those with two or more kids? If you’re like me and a lot more comfortable behind the wheel of a car but crave the comfort, space and utility of a minivan for your family, an SUV is the perfect compromise. My biggest criticism of SUVs has always been that they just can’t match the space of a minivan, especially if you have a big family or are regularly carpooling with a group of kids. My view changed when I recently got to test drive the 2020 Chevy Traverse High Country on a family road trip. Besides being spacious and luxuriously appointed, it offers a smooth ride that handles a lot like a car and is loaded with a long list of entertainment and safety features.

Though the Traverse is considered a mid-sized SUV, it’s roomy enough to accommodate a big family with three rows. We took the Traverse on a 4-hour trip from northern New Jersey to Lake Placid, where we got to experience its handling in and out of the snow. One of my favorite features is the ability to switch from 2- to 4-wheel drive on the fly with ease depending on the road conditions. The Traverse handles incredibly well on icy, snowy roads and I loved being able to turn a knob to get back to 2-wheel drive once we were out of the snow.

Here are the family-friendly features I love most about the Chevy Traverse:

It feels like a luxury car, minus the luxury price. We drove an upscale High Country which means it comes loaded with many options (including leather trim) is super comfortable, and has roomy seating throughout. My two kids loved the second-row captain’s chairs, which have a control that lets the passenger tip up and slide forward. This makes it much easier to access the third row. In many vehicles, the third row feels cramped, but not in the Traverse. On the long ride home, my kids decided they each wanted a row to themselves so my son sat in the third row while my daughter remained in her second-row chair. Both had plenty of leg room and comfort for all four hours of our trip. It’s important to note that if you don’t need the third row, it easily folds flat for extra storage space.

Heated first and second row seats and a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, a roomy cargo area and adaptive cruise control are just a few more of the features we loved. Like a mini-van, the Chevy Traverse can comfortably fit up to seven people (eight if you opt for a bench seat in the second row instead of captain’s chairs). These features are among the many that are included in the Traverse’ reasonable sticker price of $54,790. That’s a lot of vehicle for the money!

It’s got a long list of well-thought out safety features, including ones that were designed especially for teen drivers. Buckle to Drive technology does just that—it reminds and requires teens to buckle up before the car will go into drive. You can also set speed and volume limits for your teen drivers and monitor how close to those limits they go. A rear-seat reminder that pops up in the instrument cluster is a game changer for families with babies in car seats.

Other notable safety features include a lane change alert with side blind zone alert, a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, enhanced automatic emergency braking and a lane assist which warns the driver when you depart your lane. It even has adaptive cruise control which automatically maintains its distance from any car in front of you.

It integrates your iPhone and Android seamlessly. The Chevy Traverse had no lag time responding to my iPhone and worked flawlessly with Apple Car Play. If you aren’t familiar with Apple Car Play, it allows iPhone users to display the apps (such as Waze for navigation) and functionality from their phone on the vehicles’ display, enabling you to control the apps via the vehicle’s touchscreen or voice commands. Trust me when I tell you once you’ve tried Apple Car Play, you’ll be hooked. It’s simple to use with a user-friendly display that’s easy to see and navigate while driving. If you’re an Android user, the Traverse is also Android Auto enabled.

It has WiFi connectivity for up to seven devices. The WiFi hot spot is a huge benefit when you have kids in the back with their tablets and computers. It worked quickly and seamlessly for us. The kids were occupied on their devices for the whole trip. And I mean they didn’t once ask me about their connection. That’s a big parenting win. They were happy on their devices with their headphones on while we were happy listening to the music we wanted to hear on Apple Car Play. These are the features that made for a calm road trip.

It offers a feature called Surround Vision that allows you to see the area behind and around you. When you put the Chevy Traverse in reverse, you get a picture on the screen. The Traverse uses four strategically placed cameras to create a bird’s eye view of the vehicle while moving at a low speed.

It also has a rear-view mirror that you can easily switch to camera mode so you get a real-time view of the cars around you. While I found this feature impressive, I loved that you could turn it off in favor of the old-fashioned mirror because it does take getting used to. After some time, I did get used to it.  If the weather is clear, it’s easy to see but in the rain or snow, it’s a good idea to switch back to the old-fashioned mode.

It has a dashboard that makes it easy to see what you need with an adjustable navigation screen. The screen that displays Apple Car Play and your navigation can be moved up for easier viewing. My favorite part of this feature is that there is a hidden storage area behind the screen so once you move it up, there is a little cubby where you can store devices. Just below the touchscreen is a wireless charging doc as well.

Bottom line: The Chevy Traverse High Country is comfortable and filled with luxury features. It’s easy to drive despite its large size and keeps the family happy and kids safely at peace with one another on the road. There’s not much more you can ask for at this price point.

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