2012 Chevrolet Traverse
Starting MSRP $29,660–$41,035
During a busy week with the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse my family trekked more than 900 miles in it, often with two adults, four kids and tons of vacation gear along for the ride. The three-row SUV became our vacation headquarters, providing navigation assistance and comfort for the adults and entertainment, space and, basically, a portable living room for the kids.
For all we threw at the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse, from steep country roads to sand-filled beach bags, this SUV performed steadily and provided a comfortable environment for most, if not all, its passengers.
Performance-wise, the 288-horsepower Traverse was a happy freeway cruiser that reached top speed smoothly and rather quickly. Hills provided the greatest challenge for the Traverse as we easily lost 10 mph of speed each time the terrain gained altitude. The V-6 engine strained to get back up to speed during these climbs.
Even though our trip was filled mostly with freeway travel, we averaged only 19.4 mpg in the Traverse, which gets an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway. I was grateful the Traverse used regular fuel.
The Traverse has a starting MSRP of $29,430. My test car, a top-of-the-line LTZ trim with front-wheel drive, cost $43,895.
Not the most fetching Chevrolet to roll off the line, the 2012 Traverse looks rounded and ready to burst.
What it lacks in looks, it makes up for in usability. The Traverse's low step-in height made it easy for passengers of all ages to get into and out of the SUV. The cargo area floor was just about at hip level, which made it easy to load coolers, suitcases, groceries and bikes into it.
Large door openings made accessing the second row a comfortable experience, even when I was maneuvering a cooler in between already seated passengers.
The Traverse has a 288-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 engine that's paired with a six-speed automatic. On lower level trims, the V-6 gets 281 hp. The 288 hp comes from an optional dual-exhaust system that boosts the horsepower. The front-wheel-drive Traverse gets 17/24 mpg, and the all-wheel-drive version gets 16/23 mpg.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
The 2012 Traverse offers amenities to win over all three rows of passengers. For starters, I enjoyed the front row's standard ventilated seats. It was warm during our test week in the Traverse and the cool breeze from the seats kept my back, and therefore my shirt, cool and dry. The seats also are heated for the winter months.
I had some difficulty working with the navigation system; it wasn't as intuitive as I'd have liked. By the end of the week, though, I had it down and had learned what the screen icons meant and which buttons to push to achieve my navigation goals. I also struggled with the sound system when the kids were watching a movie in the back while I wanted to hear the navigation guidance or listen to the radio. I never did figure out how to accomplish the two tasks at once.
The second row was my favorite spot in the Traverse. It had two ample captain's chairs with armrests separated by a spacious walkway to the third row. The captain's chairs are optional and lower the Traverse's seating to seven. The standard three-seat second-row bench ups seating to eight. Bottleholders in the rear doors kept beverages within reach for my kids, and seatback pockets on the front-row seats held their Nintendo DS gear, coloring books and other items.
Only two sets of wireless headphones came with the Traverse's rear entertainment system. This was fine for our everyday lives, but it complicated things when guests came along and wanted their own set.
The 60/40-split three-seat third row offered lots of flexibility when hauling kids or cargo. For those in the nose-bleed seats, life was perfectly comfy with ample legroom for kids, additional cupholders and a decent view of the DVD screen, which dropped down from the ceiling. The only complaint coming from our third-row passengers was waiting for the second-row occupants to exit before they could jump out of the car. Kids!
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
With three rows of seats, the Traverse has only two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row. One more set in the third row would really help families with three or more children. Three of the four Latch anchors are easy to use, but the inboard anchor on the passenger side sits too close to the seat belt buckle, making it difficult to use.
Child-safety seats — even the rear-facing variety — fit well in the Traverse. Most of the seat belt buckles are on stable bases, making it easier for kids to buckle up independently. However, there is one seat belt buckle in the third row that has a floppy base. Find out how the 2012 Traverse did in MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check here.
The 2012 Traverse has standard front-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction and anti-roll control, rear parking sensors, a backup camera and six airbags, including side curtains in three rows. All-wheel drive is optional.
The Traverse also comes with six months of OnStar's Directions and Connections service with Automatic Crash Response and Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse here.
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