OK, we get it. An SUV is a rather ambitious holiday gift. But whether you are an adventurous man or a family guy in search of new wheels, the 2018 iteration of Chevy’s midsizer is a hell of an option. It doesn’t just look sharp, either. It’s loaded with both practical features and technological advancements that rise above the pack. We got a chance to put it through its paces on a recent weekend and pretty much fell in love. What follows are just a few reasons we are so stoked on this ride…

car-playThe Dashboard Display Is Truly Plug and Play: Car companies have spent years trying to develop dashboard touchscreens that are as seamless and intuitive as your smartphone is. And while the Traverse’s offering is pretty solid, what’s even better is the fact you can use it to access, yes, that very same smartphone. That’s right, with Apple/Android Car Play, you can sync your phone with the display and access car-friendly apps that deliver maps, music, podcasts and more. You can even use voice commands to play your favorite songs, make calls and respond to text messages. And of course all the activity happens as smoothly as it does with your phone, so you never miss that exit while futzing with your touchscreen.

spaceNo Matter Your Needs, There’s Room to Spare: Got a big family or lots of friends? Sort of like the SUV version of the original MINI Cooper, the Traverse is seemingly way bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. You can safely and comfortably seat up to eight people. Hauling sports equipment or holiday gifts? Just in case the photo above doesn’t do it justice, the Traverse boasts nearly 100 cubic feet of cargo space, plus a hidden underfloor rear storage compartment. Oh, and it’s got a sneaky little lockable cubby behind the touchscreen for stashing valuables, to boot. Suffice it to say that when we needed to throw a bicycle in the back for an easy ride home when we dropped the vehicle off, the process was easy as holiday pie.

camerasIt’s Hardly Camera Shy: Let’s say the back of your SUV is loaded with ski and snowboard gear for a big trip to the mountains. Normally you wouldn’t be able to see a damn thing out the back windows, but relax: Just flick the rear-view mirror—or shift into reverse—and you’ll get the view of the rear vision camera. Cameras also alert you to rear cross traffic and, should you attempt an unsafe lane change, they’ll let ya know. Of course, our favorite camera feature is Surround Vision, which uses four different cameras to give you a top-down view of your vehicle. As a serially terrible parallel parker, I can tell you that this tech, pictured above, is an absolute game changer.

performanceMuch Like St. Nick, the Handling and Acceleration Is Lively and Quick: Our biggest weekend challenge? Maneuvering the Traverse through downtown Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge to pick up a friend, then escaping the metro area to attend another friend’s birthday in South Jersey. That may sound rather routine, but driving in the city on a Saturday evening can truly be a nightmare. Thankfully this nimble beast was more than up to the task. Apple Car Play fed the directions while responsive handling helped us navigate all manner of city traffic nonsense. And once we got out on the highway, hoo boy. Thanks to all-wheel drive, when we hit the gas, we took off like a Cajun Red rocket, zooming past our fellow road warriors and reaching the festivities—complete with joyous smiles—in record time.

wifiYou’ll Always Be Connected: Last but certainly not least, we loved the built-in Wi-Fi. Granted we did not exactly need it while tooling around the tristate area on a weekend, we can only imagine the handiness if, say, you’re carpooling and one of your passengers needs to whip up a Power Point presentation on her laptop on the way to work. And let’s say you’re headed up to the mountains—something we’d love to do in this vehicle: You need not worry about your nav system crashing when you hit some winding road far off the beaten path. Just tap into that Wi-Fi and—as with many obstacles the Traverse is ably equipped to tackles—you’ll truly be good to go.