The new Traverse crossover vehicle couldn't go wrong if it tried because it's the first Chevrolet version of the similar, widely applauded Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.
Timing of the Traverse introduction might leave some wondering why it's at least a year late to the Chevy lineup. The Outlook and Acadia were 2007 models, while the Enclave arrived for 2008.
The Traverse isn't all that different from the Outlook, Acadia and Enclave. All feel solid and have the precise body fits once found only with Japanese cars. They share underpinnings and look slick, although each has distinctive front styling and interiors.
Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available. There's seating for seven or up to eight with a third-row seat. Sliding second-row seats allow fairly easy access to the third-row area, which is fine for kids but tight for long-legged adults.
If introduced last year, the Traverse could have anchored this crossover lineup -- with the Saturn in the middle, the Acadia near the top and the Enclave at the summit. Perhaps General Motors wanted to give its GMC unit and newly aspiring Saturn divisions a leg up? As for the Enclave, it's said to have nearly single-handedly revived Buick.
Whatever. The Traverse comes as the entry $28,255 LS, $30,810 LT and $39,075 LTZ.
Standard LS items include six air bags with a rollover sensor, electronic stability control system, GM's OnStar assistance system and 17-inch wheels. The LT adds an ultrasonic rear parking assist, rearview camera for safer backing up, automatic dual-zone climate control and 18-inch wheels. The LTZ adds heated/cooled front seats and 20-inch wheels, besides added power and dual exhausts.
This is a family-oriented vehicle so the variety of options include a rear DVD entertainment system. Also offered is the inevitable power sunroof.
The Traverse 3.6-liter V-6 gets direct fuel injection (the latest rage) to feed cylinders better for more punch and better fuel economy. It has more horsepower -- at 281 or 288 with dual exhausts -- and torque than the 2008 Outlook, Acadia and Enclave.
However, the 2009 versions of that non-Chevy trio share the same V-6 and also get direct injection to match the 288-horsepower rating of the sportiest Traverse version -- the dual-exhaust LTZ. The 281-horsepower Traverse V-6 has 253 pound/feet of torque while the higher-horsepower engine has 270 pound/feet.
Horsepower and torque are important because these are large, heavy crossovers that will be asked to work hard, hauling kids, cargo, etc. The Traverse weighs 4,720 pounds with front-wheel drive and 4,925 pounds with all-wheel drive. Towing capacity is 5,200 pounds.
Fuel economy is an estimated 17 mpg in the city with front-drive and 16 with all-wheel drive, which offers bad-weather prowess. Highway economy figures are much higher: 24 with front-drive and 23 with all-wheel drive. Only regular unleaded fuel is needed.