The new Traverse has a smoothly styled exterior, with styling details--including the front grille--borrowed from recent Chevrolet cars such as the Malibu. Inside, it also offers an experience that's more car-like.
That observation rings true in the way the Traverse drives as well. A new 3.6-liter overhead-cam V-6 engine powers the Traverse responsively, making an impressive 288 horsepower (281 hp for single-exhaust versions). The power is brought to the pavement via a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive system that actively distributes torque between the front and rear wheels for the best traction.
The Traverse promises to be significantly more economical to run compared to large truck-like SUVs, thanks to an aerodynamic design, fuel-saving direct-injection technology, and a 'tall' overdrive sixth gear for relaxed highway cruising. EPA fuel economy ratings range up to 24 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel-drive model.
The Traverse shows more of its car underpinnings underneath, with variable-effort rack-and-pinion steering and a low center of mass for stable cornering. The four-wheel independent suspension allows a compliant ride yet a towing capacity of up to 5,200 pounds--comparable to some truck-based mid-size SUVs.
Safety was given priority in the Traverse's engineering and feature list. Stabilitrak electronic stability control, with rollover mitigation technology, is standard, along with anti-lock brakes, Panic Brake Assist, and six airbags, including head-curtain side bags that cover all three rows of seating. Every Traverse comes with one year of OnStar, which includes a crash response system that automatically calls for help.
An extremely roomy interior is one of the Traverse's strengths. The three rows provide seating for up to seven or eight, depending on whether buyers opt for the captain's chairs or 60/40-split bench seat. The bench slides fore and aft for easier access to the third row or added seating space. There are plenty of bins and cubbies all around as well as ten cup holders.
The Traverse can be equipped in three different trims, LS, LT and LTZ, and each is available in either front- or all-wheel drive. The base LS models include keyless entry, cruise control, front and rear air conditioning and MP3-compatible CD audio with XM Satellite Radio. The LT adds a power driver's seat, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, a trip computer and a parking-assist system. The top LTZ upgrades to variable-effort steering, a dual exhaust, projector-beam headlamps, perforated leather upholstery, remote vehicle start, a tri-zone climate control system and a rearview camera. The LTZ also piles on standard technology features including a Bose surround-sound system, a navigation system with XM NavTraffic, for live traffic updates, a Bluetooth hands-free interface and a 110-volt power outlet. Noteworthy options include a DVD entertainment system and a big dual-panel sunroof.
The Traverse's look is quite different between trims thanks to a wide range of wheel offerings. LS models get 17-inch wheels, the LT upgrades to 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, and LTZ models get flashy, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels.
The Chevrolet Traverse is an all-new model in Chevrolet's lineup, an alternative to traditional sport-utility vehicles that offers the handling and ride comfort of a car and some of the interior convenience and roominess of a minivan. While the Traverse is new to Chevrolet for 2009, it's closely related to the previously introduced Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.