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