Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chevrolet Traverse: GM proves again that it can do SUVs


The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is a new SUV from General Motors.Yes, it is a relatively large SUV, when sales of such vehicles are down amid a sharp drop in overall vehicle sales.
Yes, it is similar to three other SUVs on what GM calls its Lambda platform: the Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia.
But if you're able to put all that aside and just evaluate this vehicle for what it is, you can see that it's a beautiful, functional, stylish machine.
The Traverse offers pleasant driving manners and the smooth ride that you expect from a large luxury vehicle.
Its impressive agility can be attributed to a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system.
Safety features are abundant, including the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and rollover mitigation technology (RMT), which is designed to prevent rollover.
Side-impact air bags and curtain air bags are activated if on-board sensors detect a potential vehicular rollover.
Also, there are frontal and seat-mounted side-impact air bags for front seats and the curtain-style air bags mounted above outboard seats at all three rows.
The Traverse is large, albeit rather deceptively so.
Its exterior design lines seem to hide the fact that it is about 17 feet long and six feet wide.
The extended wheelbase (118.9 inches) and broad wheel track of 67.8 inches in the front and 67.4 inches in the rear assist in smoothing out the ride.
Drivers can choose front wheel drive or a full-time all-wheel-drive system.
That AWD system can determine how much power is needed for each wheel to keep its footing.
For an SUV, the Traverse is remarkably designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
The integrated rear spoiler and a splitter at the bottom of the front air dam assist the aerodynamics of the Traverse, said Bryan Nesbitt, GM's vice president of design.
That's important because it aids the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.
Nesbitt also alluded to design touches such as the aggressive front-end shaped in a sculpted block, the dramatically raked windshield and stylish single-bar grille accented with chrome.
Those touches, he said, make the Traverse stand out among family vehicles.
The Traverse is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that makes 281 horsepower and 266 pounds-feet of torque.
Gas mileage is listed at 17 mpg city, 24 highway, according to EPA.In a mix of city and highway driving, we got about 19 mpg.
Inside, the Traverse offers an incredible amount of comfort.
That's first noticed when you enter the vehicle.
Instead of having to step up like you do with so many SUVs, you just kind of slide right into this one.
The second row of seats offers a choice of captain's chairs that move fore and aft or a bench, which can seat three people.
The third row also holds three passengers on its 60/40 split bench.It's relatively easy to get to the third row because the second row seats move without difficulty.
When the third row of seats is up, you get a spacious 24.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear.
Fold those seats down, and you get an even more spacious 68.8 cubic feet.Put the second row down too and your space grows to something that's enough to build a small condo: 116.4 cubic feet.
The Travese comes in its base LS trim, upgraded LT1 and LT2 trims and top of the line LTZ level.
The LS starts at around $28,255, while the loaded LTZ that we tested went for $41,130.

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