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Heels On Wheels: 2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review

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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The all-new Chevy Traverse debuted to replace the Uplander minvan with high hopes this 4-door vehicle offering seating for up to eight will appeal to families who want a large-size SUV or crossover that reminds them of a minivan.

I drove a 6-speed automatic transmission 2009 Chevy Traverse LTZ with a 3.6-liter 281-horsepower V6 engine and dual exhaust tips. Standard standouts included: leather-appointed seats; heated and cooled front seats; 8-way driver power seating with memory; smart-slide second row seating; tri-zone climate control; Bluetooth; 3-pronged power outlet; Bose audio system; and a navigation system. The DVD Rear Entertainment Package cost an additional $1,295. Total vehicle price came to $41,130.

I give the Chevy Traverse credit for being one of the first vehicles I've ever driven to offer both heated and cooled front seats. Also, GM offers OnStar on all their vehicles – many makers don't and such a safety feature should be standard.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: While it's certainly roomy, the exterior size is bulky. It was a huge design mistake to not offer minivan style sliding rear doors, which would have given this vehicle an opportunity to standout. For a vehicle of this price and level, I couldn't believe steering wheel adjustment was manual. The center console doesn't make good use of space – you cannot stick a pen or notebook anywhere. You do have an upper dash cargo space that clicks open, but it's a very troublesome spot for storage and blocks visibility, not to mention its placement is ergonomically incorrect. Navigation is inferior to other systems; overall, the tech commands take too long to figure out. During one drive, the audio system tried to read a non-existence disc despite the fact I pressed nothing – that can become a very annoying sound after awhile. You have to really put your weight into moving around the second-row smart sliding system. Keep in mind leather-appointed means the seats are accented in leather, but not entirely covered leather.

Reliability & Safety Factor: GM can toot its horn about crash safety. It garnered five-stars for both frontal and side crash for passenger and driver, and four-stars for rollover. The engine configuration is what you'll find in the Saturn, Buick and GMC siblings, so measure those reliability ratings, which are average to below average.

Cost Issues: For what $41,130 gets you, there are many better choices within the mid-to-large crossover class. I'll leave it at that instead of burying this vehicle under long list of alternatives; however, I will throw in I think GM's Buick Enclave at $36,045 is a surprisingly wonderful alternative and has made my Best of 2008 Vehicles list.

Activity & Performance Ability: This was not an easy car to navigate in traffic or in busy shopping centers. Turning radius was better than I expected, but my consumer confidence to make tighter turns wasn't present due to the limited visibility. The ride felt unstable – my seasoned test-drive passenger sited carsickness, despite the fact she had driven on the winding road of choice many times and never felt ill.

The Green Concern: The Traverse claims best fuel economy of any 8-passenger crossover at 17-mpg city and 24-mpg driving. Well, the 8-passenger Honda Pilot's V6 at $33,595 claims 17-pg city and 23-mpg highway driving and the Toyota Highlander Limited at $38,578 gets an average of 18-mpg – all cars net nearly the same results. The differences certainly aren't a special selling point.

Close, but no cigar, is how I'd describe the Traverse. I certainly had hoped I could have given a stronger recommendation. While it's not a bad car, it just obviously falls short in too many areas and in my one-woman's opinion cannot compete with Chevy's self-appointed key competitors like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

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2008 Model Reviews

2008 Katrina Ramser