Chevrolet Traverse delivers in a big way
By JEFF TAYLOR For Sun-Times Media April 20, 2012 3:48PM
2012 CHEVROLET TRAVERSE 1LT
ENGINE: 281-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: all-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 16 city/23 highway
BASE PRICE: $34,610
AS TESTED: not available
The midsize Chevrolet Traverse is part of a strong group of unibody SUVs that has remade the sport utility segment. Traverse is not a traditional body-on-frame 4x4 sport utility, and it is available as a front- or all-wheel-drive model.
The Traverse has been on the market for four years and for 2012 is essentially unchanged except for a few new colors. Traverse is available in LS, LT and top-of-the-line LTZ trim.
The exterior of the current Traverse takes few chances; the slippery shape is not as distinctive as sibling GMC and Buick versions. There is plenty of visibility and the upgraded, bright chrome wheels add some flash.
On the road, the Traverse’s performance is about midpack. There’s only one drivetrain offered: a 3.6-liter V-6 with direct injection technology mated to a six-speed automatic. Traverse runs on regular unleaded gasoline and exhausts spent gases through a single exhaust; it has slightly higher horsepower with a dual-exhaust system. Ninety percent of the engine’s peak torque is available from approximately 2,500 rpm to more than 6,000 rpm.
In testing an all-wheel-drive model, I discovered that with a full load of passengers and luggage, shifts were slower and acceleration was lazy. To be fair, this would affect other SUVs as well, but it was noticeable in the Traverse. Handling is about par for the segment with a little bit of body sway in corners, and steering feedback was a little lighter than I would have preferred. The LT, with its standard 18-inch wheels, does provide decent grip, or you can opt for 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with performance tires. If you want a really sporty handling SUV, see BMW or Porsche.
The best part of the Traverse is its voluminous interior. Overall, the interior is inviting —especially if you opt for the top-line LTZ model with two-tone interior. The dash has all buttons and controls within sight and easy reach. The materials look slightly upscale in the LTZ models.
The front seats were comfortable and supportive, and the second row is better than some competitive models. Traverse is available in seven- and eight-passenger configurations. There is plenty of headroom. Front- and second-row legroom is good. Cargo volume is 116.4 cubic feet behind the first row with the second-row seat folded and third-row seat and cargo management system removed.
Decked out better than some sedans, the list of standard equipment is long and features power windows/mirrors/locks, keyless entry, tilting/telescoping steering wheel and cruise control. Dual air conditioning is part of the package as is sliding and reclining second-row seats, which aid comfort, but third-row access is cumbersome. A competent CD/MP3 player is there as is an auxiliary audio input jack. There’s also available satellite radio, OnStar with directions and connections service, turn-by-turn navigation and automatic crash notification.
You can further enhance your Traverse with heated front seats, leather, power passenger seat, navigation system, a rear DVD entertainment system, a huge panoramic sunroof, a luggage rack and a trailer hitch.
Chevrolet has gone high tech with many of its vehicles and Traverse features Apple- and Android-compatible smart-phone apps so you can remotely lock and unlock the doors, start the engine, and check things such as fuel level, fuel distance and tire pressure.
For family protection Traverse offers a 360-degree safety system, including standard head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for all seating rows. The roof-mounted head curtain air bags include design features that provide increased rollover protection and occupant containment. StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology is standard on all models and incorporates full-function traction control. A four-wheel-disc brake system with antilock brakes is also standard.
The current Traverse takes on strong competition from the excellent Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.
Recently at the New York Auto Show, Chevrolet showed a freshened 2013 Traverse with a revised exterior debuting Chevrolet’s new crossover utility face, a refined interior with seating for up to eight passengers, front center air bag, and enhanced ride and handling.
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