For 2009, Chevrolet got its own version of GM's popular three-row crossover. It's called the Traverse, and it offers distinctive styling and a purportedly sportier driving experience than its Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave siblings. Competitors include the Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Veracruz.
Under the Traverse's hood is a 3.6-liter V-6 with direct fuel injection to achieve slightly better power and gas mileage than the engines in the Outlook, Acadia and Enclave. Three-row curtain airbags and an electronic stability system are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
The Traverse comes in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels.
The Traverse sports the same stacked grille as the redesigned Chevy Malibu. The high beltline and tall roof are typical of most large crossovers, while the taillights recall Chevy's Camaro concept. A panoramic moonroof is optional.
Seventeen-inch steel wheels are standard, while uplevel models have 18- or 20-inch alloys. Like virtually all crossovers, the Traverse has a four-wheel-independent suspension that bodes well for on-road comfort, if not offroad capability. Chevrolet says the Traverse's suspension tuning is the sportiest of its siblings.
The cabin can seat seven or eight, depending on whether you get separate captain's chairs or a three-seat bench in the second row. With the captain's chairs, access to the three-seat third row requires pulling a lever for the second-row seat to slide forward into its collapsible bottom cushion — a novel approach, provided it can weather hundreds of uses. Behind the third row is 26.1 cubic feet of cargo volume — more than you'll find in most three-row crossovers.
Cloth seats are standard, but uplevel models have leather. Heated and cooled front seats and a navigation system are among the LTZ's available options.
Like its siblings, the Traverse's interior has bright gauges and plenty of beveled plastics. The door handles reside on their own raised cutouts, and the dashboard stacks contrasting materials atop one another. Parking assistance comes in the form of rear proximity sensors or a rearview backup camera.
Under the Hood
GM's 3.6-liter V-6 has direct injection to make 286 horsepower and slightly better gas mileage than the 270- or 275-hp engines in the Outlook, Acadia and Enclave. The automaker says all three SUVs will likely adopt the Traverse's direct-injection engine somewhere down the road.
A six-speed automatic is standard, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional.
Front, side-impact and side curtain airbags are standard. The curtains cover all three rows of seats. All-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are also standard.