2009 Chevrolet Traverse
While many automotive segments have suffered at the wrath of high gas prices and a retreating economy, crossovers have thus far managed to remain toward the top of the food chain. So, while General Motors is at the dawn of their push for alternative propulsion methods and smaller vehicles, they’re still expanding their robust lineup of crossovers. The Traverse
arrives as their largest vehicle in the segment, with seven- or eight-passenger seating depending on the buyer’s preference. GM likes to call it the vehicle that requires no compromise, with an equal balance of style, quality, safety and utility. While that might be a bit optimistic, it’s difficult to argue with the level of utility the Traverse provides, from its spacious, comfortable interior to its dexterous blend of power, ability and fuel economy.
What's to Like
Use of a touch screen navigation system creates a clean, logical dash layout – a relief when compared to the button-filled interiors of some competitors – and those who don’t option for the screen still get a simple, logical instrument panel. The option of both seven- and eight-passenger seating gives those who don’t need the extra space the option of more comfortable second row captain’s chairs. A substantial towing capacity of 5,200 lbs comes as a pleasant surprise.
What's Not to Like
Folding back the second-row captain’s chairs can be confusing, as one lever is used to fold the seat back forward for storage, and another is used to push it forward for third-row access – use of one lever would make the process more simple. Rear cargo room is somewhat limited in comparison to the competition thanks to the sloped roofline.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
If there is anything close to the definition of what driving a crossover vehicle feels like, the Traverse is it. The ride is soft and supple, driving through bumps and surface imperfections that you know are there but can’t seem to feel through the suspension. Acceleration is adequate and power delivery is linear, but the Traverse will never be confused with a truly fast performance SUV. Road noise isn’t likely to be an issue, nor will visibility. The steering is light, making low speed maneuvers easy on the forearms, and the brakes are decently progressive and bite hard only if you jump on them.
Engine and Drivetrain
All Traverse models are powered by a direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 288 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Power is driven to either the front wheels or through optional all-wheel drive for those looking for some extra utility. All models utilize a six-speed gearbox to take advantage of the engine’s power and maximize fuel economy.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
One common gripe with large crossovers is a general lack of visibility in their large blind spots. Not so with Traverse – clever use of trapezoidal mirrors aids blind spot visibility, lowering the likelihood of any potential “Oops, I didn’t see you in your Miata” lane-change accidents. While the Traverse isn’t short on interior space, the optional panoramic sunroof goes a long way in creating an airy, open interior environment.
Key Technology Evaluation
OnStar comes standard on all Traverse models and offers turn-by-turn voice navigation and roadside assistance – though you have to pay for the service once the trial period is up. Those not opting for the navigation screen should check out the rearview mirror mounted backup camera, which is more intuitive to use than a console-mounted screen and makes maneuvering the Traverse much easier. The transmission can be manually shifted in L-mode by use of buttons on the side of the shifter stalk – a pleasingly subtle touch in a world crowded with paddle shifters.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Out on the freeway, the Traverse has a substantial cruising range of 500 miles. Front-wheel drive models will go 17 miles on a gallon of gas in the city, 24 on the highway, while all-wheel drive equipped models will do only slightly worse at 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway. Emissions get a desirable ULEV-II rating, partially due to the use of direct-injection.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
As always, three rows of seats mean there’s plenty of room for storage expansion – up to 116.4 cubic feet are on tap should you need it. The dash is more than just a smidge Malibu-esque, which isn’t a bad thing as the two-tone horizontal design is not only attractive but unique as well.
While hiding the size of a vehicle as large as the traverse is more or less a lost cause, Chevrolet has done a good job emphasizing the vehicle’s front-end and overall height, minimizing your perception of its proportions. With chrome handles and tailpipes, the car’s Detroit origins are unmistakable.
Market Segment and Pricing
The Traverse LS
starts at $28,990 and a loaded LTZ
with all-wheel drive will set you back over $45k, so expect to pay within that range depending on your needs and wants. Over the last few years, the full-size crossover segment has exploded, giving the Traverse a broad spread of competitors, including the $27,595 Honda Pilot
, $28,625 Saturn Outlook
, $27,500 Toyota Highlander
and Ford’s alternatively styled $28,295 Flex
What We Think
While the Chevy Traverse might not truly be a “no compromise” car (we’d argue that no car truly is), it certainly should provide plenty of versatility thanks to its seating capacity, storage space and towing capacity. Given its size, it’s impressively economical and delivers a pleasingly sedate driving experience. If you’re shopping within the third-row segment, give it a look.