2009 Chevrolet Traverse
Most Likely To Succeed

We Like: Exterior styling, sweet, strong direct-injection V-6.
We Don't Like: Marginal real-world fuel mileage, heavy curb weight.

Chevy's new three-row crossover proves among the more pleasant surprises in this year's contest. The Traverse is the fourth General Motors' model built on its Lambda chassis architecture, others being the Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook, and GMC Acadia. The Traverse is functionally much the same as its cross-brand siblings and gives Chevy a much-needed entry in this segment, replacing the ages old, truck-based TrailBlazer. It also gives us our first taste of GM's direct fuel-injection V-6 in this platform, although the other variants also are so equipped for 2009.

"Times have changed," says Kiino. "We're criticizing a Honda instrument panel and center stack and praising a Chevy's." It's true: The Traverse's IP and controls are clean and workable. The interior plastics and materials are attractive and appear durable. Third-row access is straightforward, although the second row's high floor and short seat bottom compromises its comfort a bit.

The Traverse is a nice-looking piece on the outside, too, although the rear window line is shaped the way it is in the name of style, not visibility. Fold the second- and third-row seats flat, and the Traverse will swallow 116.4 cubic feet of stuff. Need to bring more junk along? No problem, given its 5200-pound towing capacity.

Everyone has been pleased with the powertrain. With optional dual exhausts, the newest version of GM's 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 spools out 288 horses, more than competitive power, although it's necessary to move the Traverse's 5111 pounds, plus cargo. The engine is quiet and smooth, with a wide powerband. It's mated to a six-speed automatic transaxle, replete with a handy toggle switch on the end of the shifter to allow manual scrolling up and down all six gears. "Ford should take a lesson from that," observes Lassa, as the Flex has no such thing.

The Traverse leads the one category it least wanted to among this year's contestants-Worst Fuel Economy. We've averaged 12.1 mpg, which includes off-road testing, a lot of idling during photo shoots, and harder than normal driving. Competitors like the Flex and Pilot have gotten 14.9 under the same conditions.
- Matt Stone

2009 Chevrolet Traverse
Base price range $28,990-$41,760
Price as tested $45,250 (LTZ AWD)
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.6L/288-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 5111 lb (55/45%)
Wheelbase 118.9 in
Length x width x height 205.0 x 78.4 x 72.8 (w/roof rails) in
0-60 mph 7.9 sec
Quarter mile 16.1 sec @ 86.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 133 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g (avg)
MT figure eight 28.9 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 17/23 mpg
MT observed fuel econ 12.1 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.05 lb/mile
Engineering ****
Design ****
Interior/functionality ****
Performance ****
On-road refinement ***
Off-road ability **
Value ***
Solid, if not landmark, entry into crossover segment