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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Reasonably agile with little lean in corners
Short on torque only at launch
For a 5,000-lb wagon, the Traverse proved quite capable of changing direction quickly
Based solely on appearances, you wouldn't think of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse as an agile vehicle or a competent towing machine, but road tests show that the Chevrolet Traverse is, in fact, a competent performer in most situations.
Powering all the trims of the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse lineup is a new "3.6-liter engine" that Edmunds says "now gets direct injection just like pricey Cadillac CTS motors." Edmunds proceeds to report that the engine is capable of "288 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm" on the LTZ trim, while "with lower trim levels and the resultant single-outlet exhaust system, the power levels drop to 281 hp and 253 lb-ft." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the engine is capable but by no means quick. In terms of acceleration, ConsumerGuide rates the Chevrolet Traverse around the class average and attests that it offers "ample power with usefully prompt throttle response." Edmunds says the Traverse Chevrolet feels "plenty peppy" and "should make it to 60 mph in a little bit more than 8 seconds." While acceleration may be just average on the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, the towing capacity is above the class norm. Motor Trend says "Traverses with the optional towing package can pull 5,200 pounds, versus 4,500 pounds for the '08 Outlook/Acadia/Enclave" and an even 5,000 pounds for the competing Toyota Highlander.
Pairing up with the Chevrolet Traverse's V-6 engine is a "six-speed automatic transmission" that ConsumerGuide says will route the power through either a "front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive" system. Reviews are subdued for the automatic transmission, but ConsumerGuide remarks that "shifts are smooth and generally immediate, though the transmission can be tardy with downshifts at highway speed." Cars.com also refers to the transmission as "smooth-shifting," a term commonly used to describe the Chevrolet Traverse in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.
One of the benefits of a six-speed transmission is that it offers better fuel economy than the four- and five-speed units found on many vehicles today. Edmunds says "the direct-injection V6 brings with it slightly better fuel economy than the V6 it replaces in all the Lambda crossovers," though the AWD version suffers a slight mileage penalty. The official EPA estimates for the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse are 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for the AWD and 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version.
While the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse offers SUV-like cargo room and practicality, its handling and ride characteristics are much more driver-friendly than those of truck-based vehicles. Edmunds reports that the Traverse Chevrolet "delivers an enviable compromise between a comfortable ride and agile handling even with its optional 20-inch wheels." Autoblog reviewers agree, finding that the Chevrolet Traverse turns "with minimal body roll and drama," and "for a 5,000-lb wagon, the Traverse proved quite capable of changing direction quickly." Other reviewers praise the "quicker and more direct" steering on the Traverse compared to its competitors, and Motor Trend claims the Traverse is "tuned like a car." And in the always-important braking category, ConsumerGuide chimes in with another positive review by saying that "responsive brakes contribute to making Traverse feel sporty despite its size."
Enthusiasts might not appreciate the acceleration on the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, but then again, they're probably not going to drive one in the first place.