The Chevy Traverse was the perfect vehicle for me to take six friends to a Detroit Red Wings game. The seven-passenger setup is easy to navigate thanks to the second row captain’s chairs, making third-row accessibility an easy task even for adults.
The interior of the Traverse is very nice; good color combinations and materials. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from GM. The powertrain was surprisingly peppy for a 5000-pound vehicle, providing ample acceleration when demanded.
It’s amazing that these 20-inch wheels come standard on the LTZ. That’s such a huge wheel, yet on this robust Traverse body, they fill the fender gaps nicely without drawing attention.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
With my wife and kids coming into town, I put in a special request for the Traverse. I had been very impressed with our Four Seasons Audi Q5, which left me feeling that (cost aside) it was an ideal car for my family, a natural next step from our desperate-for-retirement Honda Odyssey.
By contrast, the Traverse just constantly reaffirmed that I do not need, or particularly want, to have a vehicle of this size. I have been much more impressed with a similarly equipped Saturn VUE and a Chevy Equinox-both of which I have driven extensively very recently.
I did 750 miles in eleven hours in a Vue, driving from North Carolina to Michigan, and the driver’s seat was very comfortable the entire time. Conversely, the Traverse’s driver’s seat was uncomfortable after a fraction of the time.
The Traverse’s center console/armrest is large and cumbersome, yet the cavity holds almost nothing. The compartment in the console astern of the shifter is, by contrast, so deep that items stored there would easily be buried. I also didn’t care for the iPod interface and stereo controls, which I found bothersome to operate. And I was disappointed by the lack of hooks in the rear cargo area for grocery bags.
I so very much like the styling of the dash in this car, and there are some specific features I like a lot, but I do take issue with the quality of the hard plastic facing on so much of the dash and door panels.
I like the organization of the controls very much. With the exception of the somewhat hidden volume controls, all of the buttons on the steering wheel are clear and easy to use. Having the light(s) switch in the traditional lower left dash position is perfectly fine for me. With that and the cruise control buttons on the wheel, the resulting single stalk with only wiper and highbeam duty is welcome. Moving the control for the rear wiper/washer to the center console is brilliant as well; it keeps the stalk controls simple. Most cars (VW and Audi leap to mind) are a virtual nightmare on this front.
Nonetheless, as a devoted minivan fan with two young children, I may be the target for this vehicle but from where I sit, there’s no functional reason whatsoever to trade a minivan for a crossover like this. Maybe if I were coming down from a Tahoe, the Traverse would seem more like a step in the right direction.
Matt Tierney, Art Director
When it debuted for the 2009 model year, the Traverse made no sense to me. General Motors already had three (excellent) versions of its large-crossover architecture, and it was clear that Chevy dealers just wanted a piece of the pie. But now that the Saturn brand is gone, taking the Outlook along with it, the existence of the Traverse makes more sense, especially since Buick/GMC dealers have two vehicles on this platform, the Enclave and the Acadia.
Speaking of the Acadia, we had a Four Seasons 2007 Acadia a few years back, and we were pretty pleased with it at the end of its test. One of our complaints, though, was that our Acadia was slow. The Traverse is much better in this regard, thanks to its direct-injected engine and 288 hp (13 hp more than our old Acadia). Perhaps even better, that engine, which has now spread across GM’s entire lineup of large crossovers, gets a tick better fuel mileage on the highway (23 mpg versus 22 mpg) than its predecessor.
Still, this Traverse vehicle family has not aged particularly well, and I venture that a Ford Flex is probably a better option. I’m not saying that the Traverse isn’t a very good vehicle, though, and I particularly like how it drives like a smaller vehicle but has lots of people and/or cargo capacity. A good minivan remains a better choice, however, for most big families, but big crossovers like the Traverse offer more style, no minivan stigma, and superior towing abilities.
It turns out that Chevy dealers were right, by the way. The Traverse outsold the Acadia-the next-best-selling member of GM’s big crossover family-by 169 percent in 2009.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I really don’t care for the Traverse’s strangely shaped, undersized rear window, which I find neither attractive nor practical. From the outside, the window looks way too small for such a sizeable vehicle, and the broad expanse of sheetmetal underneath it only serves to emphasize the odd proportions. From the driver’s seat, the window appears small and very far away through the rearview mirror, compromising rear visibility. Other than that, the Traverse is a perfectly capable crossover vehicle, with comfortable seats, a nicely styled interior, room for seven passengers, and a decent powertrain.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
As far as large, seven-passenger crossovers go, I still think the Chevy Traverse is very competitive with vehicles like the Honda Pilot, the Toyota Highlander, and the Ford Flex. I am always impressed when I get in one because of its surprisingly plush interior, and this powertrain is great. If you don’t really need three rows of seats, however, by all means, consider the Traverse’s little brother, the Equinox.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Funny, I can think of at least two functional reasons to step into a Traverse instead of a minivan. First, there’s its available all-wheel-drive. With the exception of the Toyota Sienna, no automaker sells a minivan with such a configuration in our market.
Second, there’s towing capacity. The Traverse’s maximum towing capacity with a class III hitch is 5200 pounds, substantially more than the 4500-pound maximum of the Ford Flex, the Dodge Grand Caravan’s 3800-pound capacity, or the 3500-pound limits of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, and GM’s smaller crossovers (the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, when equipped with the 3.0-liter V-6).
Does everyone drag a speedboat behind the family hauler? No, but there are those who do, and the Traverse is a nice alternative to the traditional full-size SUV. Despite its heft, the Traverse drives like a much smaller vehicle, except when it comes time to squeeze into a narrow parking space. Suspension tuning can almost be described as floaty, but it is comfortable during long hauls down the interstate. Perhaps most surprising was the powertrain-the 3.6-liter V-6 provides plenty of pep and the six-speed automatic is impeccably smooth.
It’s not for everyone, but for those stepping down from a larger SUV, or for parents looking to avoid a minivan, the Traverse is a solid choice.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Had my second stint in the Traverse and I’ll revise (somewhat) my earlier comments. First, on the interior: I very much like the STYLING of the dash in this car, and there are some specific features I like a LOT (see below), but I do take issue with the quality of the hard plastic facing on so much of the dash and door panels.
I like the organization of the controls in this car very much. With the exception of the somewhat hidden volume controls, all of the buttons on the steering wheel are clear and easy to use. Having the light(s) switch in the traditional lower left dash position is perfectly fine for me. With that and the good cruise controls on the wheel, the resulting single stalk with only wiper and highbeam duty is welcome… Moving the control for the rear wiper/washer to the center console is brilliant as well. It’s right there, clearly marked and keeps the stalk controls simple. Most cars (VW and Audi leap to mind) are a virtual nightmare on this front.
The folding mirrors are a nice touch (once you recognize how to pop them back out).
Matt Tierney, Art Director
Base price (with destination): $38,760
Price as tested: $42,675
3.6L V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Tire pressure monitoring system
Ultrasonic rear parking assist
Heated sideview mirrors
20-inch aluminum wheels
Heated and cooled front seats
7-passenger seating with 3rd row
Tri-zone climate control
Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Leather wrapped steering wheel
AM/FM stereo CD player
Bose audio system
Rear seat audio controls
XM satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
All-wheel-drive — $2000
DVD rear seat entertainment — $1445
– Remote control
– Bose surround sound system
– 115-Volt power outlet
– Wireless headphones
Red jewel tintcoat — $395
Engine block heater — $75
Key options not on vehicle:
Navigation system — $1890
Dual skyscape power sunroof — $1400
Trailering equipment — $525
16 / 23 / 19 mpg
Size: 3.6L V-6
Horsepower: 288 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Curb weight: 5066 lb
20-inch polished-aluminum wheels
255/55R20 Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza all-season tires