Chevy’s all-new 2009 Traverse is a midsize crossover that looks and feels more like a full-size. Available in front or all-wheel drive versions, the Traverse is offered in three trim levels (LS, LT, LTZ). Prices start at $28,990 for a base, LS model and range to $41,075 for a top-line LTZ with all-wheel drive.
Traverse shares its “lambda” platform with corporate cousins like the Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia. All four are similar beneath their sheet metal, but the Chevy version of this quartet features some unique styling cues, like the wide, shield-shaped grille that shows a family resemblance to the popular, award-winning midsize Malibu sedan.
Crossovers are family favorites because they package the utility of an SUV in a more modern, car-like wrapper. Like SUVs, minivans and station wagons, they trade on their flexible floor plans, and the ease with which they can be configured for people and cargo.
Traverse can fit seven or eight passengers in its three rows of seating, depending on your choice of trim level. The front row’s comfortable bucket seats are matched with either a pair of captain’s chairs in row two or a split bench that seats three across. The middle row adjusts fore and aft a couple of inches, so it’s possible to slide back enough to comfortably hold longer legged adults. If, however you adjust for maximum legroom, you relegate the third-row split bench seat to kids-only status. Access to that row is made easier by the design of the second row seats that tilt and slide out of the way.
Usually, buyers of midsize, seven-passenger crossovers face an either/or dilemma when it comes to what they carry. With three rows full of people, there’s not much room left to store the gear that those passengers would bring along with them. The Traverse doesn’t require any compromises on this score. With a full load of people on board, there’s still a very usable, 26.1 cubic feet of cargo space in back.
When you’re carrying less than a full house, cargo capacity rises to a generous, 68 cubic feet, by folding the third-row bench forward. And finally, in maximum moving mode, Traverse will hold almost 118 cubic feet in back, with second and third rows folded forward. The lift-over height to load is low, and a power liftgate is optional.
Traverse has a good selection of cubbyholes and storage spots sprinkled about the cabin. And if there’s anything left over, there’s also an under-floor compartment in back for hidden stowage.
The interior of the top trim level LTZ model is both comfortable and handsomely appointed. Chevy takes an interesting approach to dealing with the common crossover problem of rear blind spots. On LT and LTZ models, both outside mirrors are fitted with wide angle inset mirrors to help spot vehicles lurking along side. It’s handy on the driver’s side, but on the passenger side, the wide angle mirror is too small and too far away to be useful for its intended purpose.
The option sheet includes most every luxury/technology feature in the market, including rear park assist, navigation system with rear view camera, Bluetooth wireless technology, a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch aluminum wheels and heated/cooled front seats.
There’s just one choice of engine and transmission in Traverse: a 3.6 liter V-6, linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. The combination provides smooth power suitable for all typical driving situations, though I found the transmission to be a bit slow shifting at times. The EPA estimates fuel economy for the all-wheel drive Traverse at 16 city/23 highway, and I logged 18 mpg during my test drive. Traverse can be equipped to tow up to 5,200 pounds. Standard safety features include six airbags, traction control and an electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology.
The available AWD system requires no input from the driver. Monitoring such factors as wheel speed and surface conditions, the system automatically transfers torque to the wheels that have the best traction. The Chevy crossover has a relatively car-like, low center of gravity. That, and the independent front and rear suspension make the Traverse light on its feet for its size. The combination of four-wheel disc, anti-lock brakes with Hydraulic Brake Boost, Dynamic Rear Proportioning and Panic Brake Assist, stop the 4,925-pound crossover with confidence.
I found the Traverse to be a vehicle with many strengths and few weaknesses. Chevy’s new crossover should find favor with families seeking room for people and cargo in a comfortable, clean looking form.
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009