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