The Bottom Line
The Chevrolet Traverse wants to help wean us off of big SUVs and into crossover vehicles. We've snapped back severely from the minivan, and now we're recoiling from big SUVs, but many drivers still want or need plenty of passenger hauling capacity. The Chevy Traverse excels as a people-hauler, with seven or eight seats depending on configuration. It doesn't exactly excel in the looks department, even when compared to platform-mates GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. Traverse should be compared with the Mazda CX-9, Ford Flex, Dodge Journey, Subaru Tribeca and Toyota Highlander, as well as the full range of minivans.
- Great passenger accommodations.
- Ample storage and cargo space.
- Least expensive of the GM Lambda crossovers.
- School bus driving position.
- Lumbers around the curves.
- Looks just like the other GM Lambda crossovers.
- Base prices from $29,224 to $39,985
- Engine: 3.6 liter V6
- Horsepower: 281 @ 6,300 rpm (single exhaust); 288 @ 6,300 rpm (dual exhaust)
- Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm (single exhaust); 270 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm (dual exhaust)
- Curb Weight: 4,720 - 4,925
- Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway (FWD); 16/23 (AWD)
- Wheelbase: 118.9” Vehicle Length: 205” Width: 78.4” Height: 72.6”
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles basic; 5 years/100,000 miles powertrain
- Cargo: 116.4 cubic feet; Behind second row: 68.8 cubic feet; Luggage: 24.4 cubic feet
- Transmission: 6-speed AT with FWD or AWD
Guide Review - 2010 Chevrolet Traverse
I'm a bit ambivalent about the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, for reasons that have little to do with the vehicle's strengths and flaws. I'm ambivalent about this whole new class of large crossover SUVs -- mostly because they're crossing over into an area where the minivan is much more capable. General Motors doesn't even offer a minivan in its lineup anymore, nor does Ford. Only Chrysler carries the torch among domestic manufacturers, while Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Kia (and VW, sort of), still make minivans and Mazda makes a mini-minivan (the Mazda5). Obviously, there's still a need for the big time people-hauler, and Chevrolet has chosen to answer the need with the Traverse.
My test vehicle was a top of the line 2010 Chevrolet Traverse AWD LTZ, which listed at $39,985 ($42,675 as tested with $1,445 DVD Rear Seat Entertainment option, upgraded paint [$395], engine block heater [$75] and destination charge [$775]). Despite comfortable leather front seats with heating and cooling, I never really settled in behind the wheel. My relationship to the steering wheel was always like that of a school bus driver (or a minivan driver) rather than an SUV pilot. Driving the Traverse felt more like pointing than steering, a vague connection to the road that did not inspire spirited romps. The Traverse is so wide at 78.4" that I really wanted more control than I got. I know that a people-hauler doesn't need to have race car reflexes, but does that mean that it can't have any driving pleasure built in at all? The only time that Traverse really shows its mettle is during a long freeway drone. Then the crossover's smooth road manners, placid handling and quiet interior lull its passengers into catatonia. I prefer the road feel of the Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9.
Traverse is very solidly built, and interior fit, finish and materials are much nicer than I've come to expect from Chevrolet's vehicles. The Traverse is very big, and feels even bigger inside. Engineers have managed to squeeze a lot of useful space into the crossover, resulting in great leg and headroom in all three rows, and lots of cubbies and compartments to store the stuff of travel. Fuel economy is comparable to the competition, and about the same as you'd expect from a minivan. The 3.6 liter V6/6-speed automatic transmission combination works to provide adequate performance, appropriate to the handling and purpose of the vehicle. More power would be wasted, because you would be overreaching the capabilities of the Traverse to drive it any harder.
Traverse would definitely be my choice among the three GM crossovers, if only because it undercuts its siblings by a few hundred dollars without sacrificing any useful features. While Traverse may be a first-rate crossover, it's still a second-rate minivan.