2009 Chevrolet Traverse: Large family crossover takes over for minvans
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Chevy has joined its GM siblings in presenting a large car-based sports-utility crossover with three rows. Emulating the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, the Chevrolet Traverse, which is built on the same Lambda platform and utilizes the same 3.6-liter V-6 powerplant as its clones, is ostensibly a modern minivan without the sliding doors. From the current marketing perspective, the Traverse is considered a large family crossover with seating for eight.
Manufactured in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the Traverse gained its initiation into the public’s consciousness as part of a product placement by General Motors in the short-lived NBC-TV drama, “My Own Worst Enemy,” a Christian Slater vehicle about an operative/family man with two personalities. Traverse’s sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Camaro was also placed in the production.
The front-engine crossover is available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive incarnations and carries trendy Malibu-inspired lines and grillework that is paid off with a comfortable, quiet with a spacious interior.
Well-toned body lines with minimal overhangs, bold, expressive front-end styling and a rear roof spoiler envelope a large package that looks perceptually smaller as Traverse measures 205 inches in length, 78.4 inches in width and 72.8 inches in height with 7.2 inches of minimum ground clearance, on a 118.9-inch wheelbase
Built for families and not off-roaders, Traverse is powered by a relatively brawny and fuel-efficient 3.6-liter V-6 with direct injection technology. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the engine puts out 281hp and 266 lbs.-ft. of torque, which was enough to propel my 4720-lb. front-wheel-drive press fleet vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds during a quarter-mile test that took 17.1 seconds. Acceleration in low gear was hesitant, but the torque curve progressed at higher revs, making passing on the Interstate confident and sure -- 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available from approximately 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm
EPA rated at 17mpg in city driving and 24mpg on the highway, a full week of driving garnered an average of 19.8 mpg during my tests on ice, snow and some dry pavement during various bitter winter travails in the mid-Atlantic region.
With a towing capacity of 5,200 pounds, Traverse is muscular enough to trailer some small boats, recreation equipment and pulled loads.
Sure-footed on ice, while my previous test vehicle had difficulty maintaining equilibrium over the same conditions, my Traverse exhibited a comparatively quiet ride while Stabilitrak stability control, traction control and power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering provided an attentive ride. A reasonably low center of gravity prevented a major amount of wobble during tight turning maneuvers, and the ride is softened by independent front and rear suspensions -- MacPherson struts up front with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and a compact state-of-the-art linked “H” design in the rear that uses an isolated mounting system to reduce noise and vibration transmitted to the passenger compartment.
Traverse safety is attended to on several fronts, beginning with ABS and additional braking enhancements including Dynamic Rear Proportioning, Hydraulic Brake Boost and Panic Brake Assist. These electronic devices optimize front to rear brake balance, amplify the hydraulic brake force to assist the driver under low or temporarily low engine vacuum conditions and add or maintaining brake pressure even if the driver unconsciously or involuntarily backs off braking during a panic or emergency situation.
Traverse employs a 360-degree safety system that helps protect passengers before, during and after a crash. This set-up includes two dual-stage frontal air bags, for the driver and front passenger, two seat-mounted pelvic-thorax side-impact air bags in the first row and two head curtain side-impact air bags that cover all three seating rows, as well as a reinforced high-strength steel structure for greater strength and better crash energy absorption.
To underscore Traverse’s safety, it performed well with a perfect five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in front and side crash tests for driver, passenger and both front and rear seats. In rollover tests, Traverse was awarded four stars out of five.
Inside, the cabin is exceptionally roomy with 40.4 inches of front-row headroom, 39.4 inches in row two and 37.8 in row three; legroom measures 41.3, 36.8 and 33.2, with shoulder room at 62, 61.3 and 57.6.
The interior is an upscale environment from its trademark Chevrolet dual-cockpit instrument panel to the premium cloth seats, 8-way power adjustable driver seat, smart slide second-row seating, front and rear air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, AM/FM stereo CD player and XM Satellite radio.
With a standard vehicle price of $30,810, nearly everything on-board was included in the base price. My test Traverse added an engine block heater for $75 and destination charges of $735, to bring the price as tested to $31,620. Heated seats, heated windshield washer fluid, voice-activated eNav navigation system, premium sound system with DVD entertainment and Bluetooth connectivity are among the add-ons that can help upgrade the Traverse into a traveling family palace.
The Chevy Traverse and its sisters have crossed over the minivan concept into a multi-utility vehicle.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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