General Motors plays it right down the middle with improvements to the ’13 Chevrolet Traverse, which makes it debut next week at the New York auto show.

Among the large cross/utility vehicle’s key upgrades are a new center stack and a breakthrough airbag system that deploys between the front-row seats.

The new center stack houses a 6.5-in. (16.5-cm) color touchscreen to accommodate Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system that enables hands-free phone use and Bluetooth audio streaming.

The airbag, which is supplied by Takata, is engineered to protect front-row passengers from colliding with each other during a side-impact collision. The device deploys from the inboard side of the driver’s seat and inflates between the two front seats.

“While no restraint technology or feature can address all body areas or all potential injuries, the front center airbag is designed to address field-relevant, side-impact crashes that are not addressed by current regulatory or consumer metric test conditions,” Gay Kent, GM executive director-vehicle safety and crashworthiness, says today in a statement.

“It works with the vehicle’s other airbags, safety belts and structure to deliver a safer occupant environment.”

The device also is available on the Traverse’s platform-mates, the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.

Meanwhile, GM says the Traverse upgrades are far from middling. They include a restyled front end which features a powerdome hood, fog lamps, a 5-bar grille design with chrome accents and sculpted corners resembling those of the new Malibu midsize sedan.

“We have injected a stronger presence into the Traverse exterior,” says Phillip Zak, GM director-exterior design.

GM also promises improved ride and handling by recalibrating the CUV’s 6-speed automatic gearbox to provide quicker and more precise shifts. Rebound springs have been added to the front struts to reduce body rolls.

In addition, the Traverse boasts new shock valving to afford a smoother ride at lower speeds.

emayne@wardsauto.com