DETROIT – I really came to appreciate the Chevrolet Traverse early every morning when I used the key FOB to start the engine from my kitchen. When I got in the full-size crossover, it would be relatively warm because the heat was on. That means a lot when it’s less than 20 degrees.
Unfortunately, I believe the Chevrolet Traverse has gotten caught in the avalanche of bad news that surrounds General Motors. My point is that the three-rowed utility vehicle is pretty doggone good despite the bad press that has been generated by the financial ills of GM.
The Traverse really is impressive. It’s big, spacious and comfortable. The vehicle is just the thing for folks who haul around a bunch of people on a regular basis. The 281 horsepower V6 was smooth, really smooth. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the power train mirrored the silk like silent running of more expensive brands.
There are three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. All are equipped with the same engine and each can be equipped with either all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive. I had an LT model with front-wheel-drive. There wasn’t’ a lot of snow on the streets here during my week-long test drive so front wheel drive was just fine.
The vehicle was really easy to drive. Although it was full-size, I never felt like I was driving a truck. The suspension did not have the float like feel a big sport-utility or the jarring ride of a pickup truck. And although the hip point was high, the Traverse didn’t feel like it was oversized.
The seats were really comfortable with plenty of lower back support. The second row seats were nice and they were adjustable, too. You’d be surprised at the fall off of the interior quality in some vehicles front to back and top to bottom. For instance, the Traverse’s third row seats were relatively hard. Still, there was plenty of head room and leg room in the third row.
Getting into the third row was pretty easy, too. One lever caused the second row seat to slide forward, with the seat cushion upright and the back folded. The second and third row seats folded creating a relatively flat cargo floor.
I’ve always felt that Chevrolet is one of the brands where GM has leveraged its size to the benefit of customers. Chevy’s come equipped with a lot of stuff that you’d expect to find in more expensive brands but at reasonable prices.
My test vehicle had an in dash CD player, satellite radio, dual climate controls in the front and an auxiliary jack. The second row had its own climate controls and audio system with earphone jacks.
There was a power driver’s seat, power lift gate, rear parking assist and Bluetooth. Of course, there was OnStar and there was a rearview camera that displayed the image in the rearview mirror because my test vehicle had no navigation system. And my Chevy Traverse was equipped with a Bose sound system; now that’s premium stuff.
My only real complaint was that connecting Bluetooth that turned my compatible Blackberry into a hands free cell phone wasn’t intuitive. I had to read the owner’s manual. But once connected it was a matter of just pushing a button when I reentered the vehicle.
Fit and finish seemed to me to be better than average. The passenger compartment had the swept curviness that is sweeping through Chevy’s product line. The vehicle had cloth seats that were nicely done. The passenger compartment had the feel of a sedan rather than a utility vehicle.
Gas mileage was very good for a full-size utility vehicle. The Traverse got 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy drops by 1 mpg on all-wheel-drive models.
Despite all the equipment I listed and more, my test vehicle had only one option: eight passenger seating with second and third row split seats. That was $495. Tack on the $735 freight charge and the total for my test vehicle came to $33,755. That’s not bad, neither was the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse.