2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review

2009 Chevrolet Traverse - Finally.


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.

Power is transmitted through a modern, responsive six-speed automatic transmission.

As with its "companion" crossovers, the Traverse drives in a carlike manner, like a big, nimble sedan. The weight can be felt holding you back above 60 mph, but 65-75-mph passing times are pretty good. In town, this Chevy moves out energetically and is a smooth interstate highway cruiser.

The Traverse goes where you point it, with no hesitation or steering "slop," although some might feel the steering is a little heavy. It rides comfortably, with an all-independent suspension shrugging off road imperfections, and handles decently. The brake pedal has a user-friendly feel, and stopping distances are comfortable.

Occupants sit high, and large outside mirrors enhance driver visibility for this 205-inch-long vehicle. Sliding in and out just calls for moderate effort because the floor isn't high and doors open wide. The interior is quiet and the backlit gauges -- which all vehicles should have -- can be read at a glance, even in bright sunlight. Controls are a mixed bag -- some large, others small. All can be easily reached, though.

Front seats provide good side support and the large sliding front armrest can be locked in various positions. A deep center console storage bin with a cover, large glove compartment and storage/bottle holder pockets in all doors provide decent space for odds and ends. The nicely positioned front cupholders have a sliding cover. But second-row cupholders are a stretch, being near the floor behind the front console.

The cargo area is large enough to provide decent room for a large number of grocery bags or other reasonably sized objects without flipping third-row seatbacks forward to enlarge the cargo area. Both second- and third-row seats fold forward to provide an especially spacious area. The tailgate has an interior pull-down handle, and the optional power tailgate is handy.

The engine compartment is nicely laid out, but you might win bets by asking others to find the outside hood opener in a reasonable time period.

In happier times for GM, Chevrolet had such a large share of the vehicle market that GM feared the government would force it to divest itself of that division. It's virtually impossible for Chevy to repeat that act, but a vehicle such as the Traverse promises to help it become a stronger player.



Likes: Stylish. Roomy. Carlike manners. Decent acceleration. OK highway fuel economy.

Dislikes: Rather tight third seat. Heavy. Low rear cupholders. Hard-to-find outside hood release.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.