2009 Traverse New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Traverse is one of a new generation of large crossover SUVs making big, clunky, truck-based SUVs practically obsolete, at least when it comes to moving people and cargo. More stylish than minivans and far more fuel and space efficient than truck-based SUVs, crossovers like the Traverse are excellent family vehicles.
The Chevy Traverse shares its powertrain and platform with the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. It offers seven- or eight-passenger capacity and plenty of cargo space.
For years, buyers have sacrificed fuel economy and driving pleasure for size, ride height, and cargo capacity. The Traverse offers a fine blend of all those traits.
On the road, the Traverse is surprisingly nimble. It handles a more like a family sedan than a Chevy Tahoe. The steering is direct and responsive, if light, and the brakes are easy to modulate. The ride is comfortable and much more stable than that of large SUVs, which can often bound and lean. The Traverse is large, though, so it can be bulky in parking lot and parallel parking maneuvers.
Power is more than adequate. The Traverse comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that moves it ably from a stop and provides decent passing punch. It makes 281 horsepower or 288 with the available dual exhaust system. The Traverse comes standard with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy numbers are better than those of most truck-type SUVs, but they're less than your average family car. Given the Traverse's spacious interior and eight-passenger capacity, the fuel economy is quite good. Though no lightweight, the Traverse is significantly lighter than the Tahoe, allowing the Traverse to deliver superior fuel economy and handling.
Inside, the Traverse offers best-in-class space. The second- and third-row seats fold flat to open up a generous cargo area. Even with all the seats up, there is enough room behind the third row for a week's worth of groceries. And an available power liftgate makes it easy to access those groceries.
The controls are easy to reach and operate. Cloth or leather, the front seats are comfortable and supportive. Room in the first and second rows is plentiful, and the third row is bigger than most and is even useful for adults. The dashboard is attractive, but there's more plastic inside than we'd like at this price point.
If you're coming out of a Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe, or Dodge Durango, you'll be quite pleased with the Traverse. It's much more pleasant to drive than those vehicles, thanks to dramatically improved ride and handling. Plus, it gets better mileage and is more space efficient on the inside. In short, the Chevy Traverse is an excellent family vehicle.
The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is offered in LS, LT (1LT, 2LT), and LTZ trim levels, each with front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). LS and LT models have a 281-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Dual exhaust boosts power in LTZ models to 288 hp.
Traverse LS 2WD ($28,255) and LS AWD ($30,255) come with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, four-way manually adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, three-passenger split-folding second-row seat, three-passenger split-folding third-row seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, XM satellite radio, outside-temperature indicator, automatic headlights, roof rails, one year of OnStar assistance, and P245/70R17 tires on steel wheels.
Traverse 1LT 2WD ($30,810) and 1LT AWD ($32,810) add an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, heated power mirrors with turn signals, a trip computer, rear park assist, and P255/65R18 tires on alloy wheels.
Traverse 2LT 2WD ($33,515) and 2LT AWD ($35,515) models get three-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, second-row captain's chairs for seven-passenger seating, Bose 10-speaker audio system with subwoofer, rear radio controls, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, rearview camera, remote engine starting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, and a power rear liftgate.
Traverse LTZ 2WD ($39,025) and LTZ AWD ($41,025) come loaded with leather upholstery, navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information, rearview camera, heated and cooled front seats, four-way power front passenger seat, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, heated washer fluid, and P255/55R20 tires.
Options for lower line models include the navigation system ($2,840 for 1LT, $1,890 for 2LT), which is paired with the Bose sound system and a rearview camera; the rearview camera by itself ($450); the Bose sound system for the 1LT ($500); leather upholstery ($1,775); second-row captain's chairs for 1LT ($495); and remote engine starting ($260). Other options include a Cargo Convenience package ($130) with a rear cargo cover and cargo net; a Trailering package ($495) with a heavy-duty engine cooler and a trailer hitch; a two-panel sunroof ($1400) with a fixed rear panel; a DVD rear entertainment system ($2355 for 1LT, $1470 for 2LT, $1295 for LTZ) that includes the Bose sound system, rear audio controls, and a 110-volt outlet; a dual-screen rear DVD entertainment system ($1930); a second-row center console ($300); side steps ($630); and a roof rack ($210).
Safety features include dual front airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitor, traction control and electronic stability control with rollover mitigation. Rear park assist and a rearview camera are optional.
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