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The large Traverse was introduced several years ago as a more carlike successor to the Chevrolet Trailblazer, falling into place below the burly Chevy Tahoe SUV. And with a more passenger-friendly layout inside that makes it feel at times like a minivan if it weren't for the hinged back doors, it's a great design for daily-grind family use.
In a word, the styling of the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse is mainstream. The Traverse lacks the chunky, truck-inspired lines of the GMC Acadia or the flow of the Buick Enclave (both are closely related), but its simple design has an air of minimalistic elegance that we find charming. There's clearly a lot of design influence shared with Chevrolet's cars—especially the Malibu—including the tall, horizontally divided grille. But next to the somewhat smaller Equinox, the Traverse is a little less adorned, a little more bland. As with the exterior, the cabin of the Traverse is functional but by no means exciting.
Power comes from a direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 engine—the same unit found in the Cadillac CTS and STS. Peak output is rated at 288 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque for models equipped with a dual exhaust, or 281 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque for models with a single exhaust. Compared to the most powerful of GM's full-size trucks and utilities, the Traverse accelerates at a leisurely pace, but never feels really slow or anemic, and the six-speed automatic keeps it revving for a perky feel.
Comfort and interior space are strengths of the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse design, and you could almost think of it as a minivan interior without the sliding doors. Over three rows, there's space for up to eight occupants, with the seats divided into two front buckets and two 60/40-split benches. Though the primary purpose of the Traverse interior is people-moving, GM's smart packaging choices show when you fold the seats down—producing a nice, nearly flat cargo floor. Even behind the third-row seat, there's 24.4 cubic feet of space, while folding the second and third rows down yields 117.5 cubic feet. The interior is tight and quiet, too, but the hard, dull plastic inside can be a downer to an otherwise bright interior.
The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse is available in three levels of trim—LS, LT, and LTZ—as well as either front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. Standard equipment even on the base LS includes a tilt/telescopic wheel, cruise control, full power accessories, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a sound system with satellite radio. Some of the vehicle's options include a rearview camera, a power liftgate, a DVD player, XM Satellite Radio, and heated and cooled front seats. Up-spec LTZ models can also be fitted with a rear spoiler, 20-inch aluminum wheels, a dual-exhaust system, and a panoramic sunroof.
- Passenger-friendly interior
- Good feature set
- Refined ride
- Simple yet elegant
- Solid build quality
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- High cargo floor
- Laden driving feel
- Hesitant transmission
- Disappointing fuel economy