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2011 Chevrolet Traverse Review

2011 Chevrolet Traverse (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Chevrolet Traverse

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide

2011 Chevrolet Traverse
Solid, Spacious and Suits All
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel (IMG_0654)

A trio of platform-sharing crossover SUVs, first introduced in 2009, are offered by General Motors, namely the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and the GMC Acadia. They are designed for people-hauling and cargo-carrying and can tow 5000 pounds. I recently spent a week driving the Traverse and an additional week in the Enclave, which I will review separately on The Auto Channel.

The Chevy Traverse is constructed with an integral uni-body and frame architecture, is offered in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with one engine/transmission combination, a 281 Horsepower all-aluminum 3.6L V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic.

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Using the recommended regular unleaded fuel, EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 City mpg and 24 Highway mpg for the front-drive model and 16 City mpg and 23 Highway mpg for the All-wheel drive. The 22 gallon fuel tank should allow for all-day driving with a good 500 miles between fuel stops.

I drove the 2011 Traverse LTZ with all-wheel drive. I was impressed by its responsiveness, quiet operation, smooth-shifting transmission and easy of maneuvering, in spite of a 205 inch length. It’s not the fastest kid on the block but does well.

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Seating configuration for 7 or 8 is available with 24.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seat. The LTZ is equipped with dual exhausts boosting the engine to 288 HP.

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I prefer the 7-seat configuration that has two individual seats in the second row and 68.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind them with the rear seat folded. A cavernous 116 cubic feet is your’s to fill up if just the front seats are needed. As I said, the Traverse is designed for people and cargo. A really nicely executed feature is the fold-down mechanism for the third row seat.
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Open the power rear liftgate – very convenient when your arms are full -- pull on the release straps and the seat folds forward. Raising the seat is a simple matter of pulling on these straps. No need to climb in or go to the side door. I also like the automatically folding headrests on the second row seats when you fold them forward---no need to remove the headrests or compromise the front seat position.

In addition to the top-line LTZ, LS and LT models are offered. Depending on model, a very comprehensive list of standard and optional features is available. A full range of power equipment including windows, seats, heated outside mirrors, rear liftgate, as well as rearview camera --- in discussion to be required on all vehicles in the next few years --- remote vehicle start, rear parking assist, DVD navigation with OnStar, rear seat audio controls, DVD rear seat entertainment, and much more allows you to customize the Chevy Traverse to your needs.

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Driving dynamics are managed with a four-wheel independent suspension, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, a range of 17-,18- and 20-inch wheels, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Traverse is a hefty vehicle but it handles like it is much lighter.

The long wheelbase and wide front and rear track make for a low center of gravity thus providing smooth and stable ride and handling. Not to be overlooked is the 7.2 inch ground clearance, an SUV characteristic that helps in the occasional unpaved road or deep snow excursion.

Cloth or leather seating in black, cashmere, dark gray or light gray is offered depending on model to be paired with 10 different exterior colors. Pricing for the LS starts at $29,999. The LTZ I drove had a base price of $39,975 and totaled at $42,665 with the options and destination charge.

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A veritable cornucopia of competitors are on the market for comparison and consideration. Among them the Ford Flex as well as the all new Ford Explorer, the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Veracruz, as well as GM’s own higher-priced offerings that I mentioned, the Enclave and Acadia.

The Chevy Traverse is built in Lansing, Michigan. With the large number of Chevrolet dealers around the U.S., any buyer should be able to find exactly the vehicle configuration she or he wants, or order one from production with a little forward-planning.