2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 9, 2008

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is an Acadia/Enclave/Outlook wearing different duds.

Experts from TheCarConnection.com have spent extensive time in the driver's seat of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse. Our team has also pored through competitive reviews of the Chevy Traverse to create this comprehensive review. Armed with this experience, TheCarConnection.com can provide a clear opinion on this full-size crossover to help you make a smart decision.

For drivers looking to abandon their full-size truck or SUV for something nearly as capable and roomy, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is a good choice. It provides much of what they need in a considerably more fuel-efficient package.

While the all-new 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is the first full-size crossover to arrive at Chevrolet dealers, it’s closely related to the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Saturn Outlook.

Regarding its exterior style, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse lacks the chunky, truck-inspired lines of the GMC Acadia or the elegant lines of the Buick Enclave. What Chevy delivers is pure vanilla design, with the brand’s "bow tie" on the grille and relatively simple trim; it won’t draw attention, but it’s unlikely to offend.

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Inside, the mainstream styling continues. Gauges are easy to see, and controls are easy to use. Touches of chrome dress it up. Seating for seven or eight is available. TheCarConnection.com likes the easy-to-use second-row seats that slide forward to provide access to the surprisingly comfortable third-row seats. However, it does take a high-step up to enter that back row.

As for performance, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is capable of doing much of what a full-size SUV can do while being more efficient than those SUVs (17/24 mpg front-wheel drive, 16/23 mpg all-wheel drive).

Experts from TheCarConection.com have driven all three Traverse models (LS, LT, and LTZ); each is equipped with the direct-injection V-6 from the Cadillac CTS and STS. The 3.6-liter engine produces 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and this is adequate to move the Chevy's not inconsequential weight of up to 4,925 pounds. Compared to the most powerful of GM's full-size trucks and utilities, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse accelerates at a leisurely pace, but it is far from being dangerously slow and never feels anemic. Shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are very smooth and timely, and the Traverse is impressively quiet when cruising.

Handling is surprisingly crisp for such a large and heavy vehicle. Especially with the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ's 20-inch wheel and suspension package, steering response is quick and body roll is present but not excessive. Road imperfections are soaked up in a way that would have set a new benchmark for luxury cars not all that many years ago.

For those still worried that "American vehicles are junk," the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse is yet another reason to forget this outdated paradigm. In build quality and overall operational functionality, this Chevy is the equal of any competitive imported vehicle. Fit and finish inside and out are high.

Chevy also meets safety concerns head-on with a full contingent of safety features, including front airbags, side airbags for the front seat, and side curtain airbags that help protect all three rows of seats. Stability control augments standard ABS and traction control. The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse shares the same structure as the other GM full-size crossovers, which get top crash-test scores, so it will likely also be highly rated.

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse includes all the expected standard and optional features that seem necessary to sell a vehicle today. This includes standard OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, and in a nod to the reality of hands-free phone laws coming on line, GM now offers a Bluetooth option; no longer is an OnStar cellular phone service the only choice. Options also include heated windshield washer fluid, a DVD entertainment system, and a well-designed voice-activated navigation system.

Full-size SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe offer more performance and towing capabilities from their available V-8 engines, but the Traverse expectedly trumps them in fuel economy. Compared to mid-size frame-based SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Jeep Commander, the Traverse offers more interior room and a more carlike ride.

Improved and all-new crossovers such as the eight-passenger Honda Pilot and the stylish Ford Flex present additional options. Both provide V-6 power and roomy interiors, and they boast stronger design statements inside and out, compared to the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse.

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