Review: As families move away from SUVs, they still need a way to
carry everyone together, and still want to be safe while they’re doing
it. Chevy now offers the all-new Traverse crossover vehicle to help
Crossovers offer the
virtues of sport utility vehicles, but are built on more comfortable car
platforms. So they drive like sedans, but give a “command of the road”
feeling, while offering three-row seating and room for masses of cargo.
They are still big.
The Traverse borrows
its styling from the exceptionally attractive Malibu sedan. The Chevy
face is now a large shield grille split neatly across its upper
midsection, with chiseled, angled headlamps. Today’s bumpers are so
neatly integrated that the Traverse appears to have none at all.
The muscular sides
create a solid feeling. The lower window edge turns up behind the rear
doors, conveying a bit of sedan shaping. But at nearly two and a half
tons, the Traverse can haul up to eight people, and the third row
actually holds adults.
Inside is a
surprisingly sporty, Corvette style instrument panel that borrows from
the Malibu’s design scheme. In an appealingly rendered light and dark
gray with silvery accents in my tester, it flaunted Audi-style teardrop
shaped main gauges and plenty of storage cubbies. There’s a handy center
console bin with a spring-loaded lid, a roomy glove box and a dash top
The seats were some of
the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a GM product, firm feeling and
nicely shaped. Other than one slightly misaligned trim piece on the
right front door, the fit and finish were excellent throughout.
Motivating this new
Chevy is a mighty 3.6-liter V6 with the power of a V8, but with better
fuel economy. With its direct injection technology, the engine puts out
288 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft of torque with dual exhausts, and 281
horsepower with a single exhaust. Direct injection is efficient because
it sprays fuel directly into the engine cylinder. And the engine’s
special pistons reduce emissions during cold starts.
EPA fuel economy is 17
City, 24 Highway. I averaged 16.2 mpg, which isn’t sensational, but for
the size and passenger capacity, it’s better than some other vehicles.
The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide rates the Traverse at a 7 for Air
Pollution and 5 for Greenhouse Gas, a little above average.
All Traverses get a
six-speed automatic. With six gears, you can have a wide range of
ratios, starting at a steep 4.48:1 first for a quick takeoff and a tall
overdrive ratio of 0.74:1 in sixth gear for maximum fuel economy and
reduced noise and vibration.
The Traverse is
assembled in Spring Hill, Tennessee, in the same plant where for many
years Saturns were built.
Chevy offers its new
“ultimate family vehicle” in the typical levels - LS, LT and LTZ. My
Cyber Gray tester was the midlevel LT, with front wheel drive. The LS is
well equipped, but the two upper levels add conveniences.
Highlights of the LT
package are mirrors with blind spot viewing sections, rear parking
assist, automatic dual-zone climate control and an upgrade to 18-inch
wheels. The LTZ adds heated and cooled front seats, a navigation system,
a rear camera, heated windshield washers and bold 20-inch wheels.
Standard dual exhausts mean the full 288 horsepower’s on tap.
The Traverse has
five-star crash test results for frontal and side crashes, and four
stars for rollover. Although it was designed with a lower center of
gravity than an SUV, it also has GM’s rollover sensing system, which can
activate the head curtain side-impact air bags and tighten up the
seatbelts if the system’s sensors decide the car is rolling over.
Further contributing to
safety is a strong vehicle structure and a set of electronic braking
systems. Dynamic Rear Proportioning balances front and rear brake
balance, Hydraulic Brake Boost increases braking force if the engine
vacuum is temporarily low, and Panic Brake Assist stomps extra hard on
the brakes in emergency situations, even if the driver has stopped doing
You also get GM’s
StabiliTrak electronic stability control, a traction control system, and
tire pressure monitoring system to keep you safe. All of the traction
and braking systems listed above work without driver intervention.
Prices start at $28,990
for the LS, rising to $31,545 for the LT and $39,810 for the loaded LTZ,
including destination charges. My tester added the California Edition
Package at $1,445 with 20-inch aluminum wheels, dual exhausts and a fine
Bose speaker sound system, bringing the total MSRP to $32,990.
The Traverse is aimed
at buyers of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Flex and others.
It’s a very handsome and satisfying piece, nearly silent on the road,
pleasant to drive, and nicely styled. It’s fascinating to note how
different it is from its competitors, despite their common mission. It’s
nice to know that you still have choices out there in today’s crossover
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Chevy Home Page
Column Name: Traverse
is Chevy’s ultimate family vehicle
Topic: The 2009
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