2009 Chevrolet Traverse arrives with four models: LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ
The South East Automotive Media Organization (SEAMO) recently selected the all new Chevy Traverse as the "2009 Family Car of the Year" during the group's seventh annual ride and drive event. From a pool of 21 vehicles, the attending journalists submitted test-drive ballots to select the top family-friendly vehicle.

The ballots contained eight categories for rating the vehicle's family friendliness: Safety, Capacity, Accessibility, Value, Amenities, Ergonomics, NVH, and Styling. A maximum of 15 points could be awarded in each of the first four categories, and a maximum of 10 points could be awarded in each of the last four categories, for a maximum total score of 100 points.

Competition in the full-size SUV/CUV world just got a lot tougher. The Chevrolet Traverse (pronounce it like reverse) enters the fray with a seven-eight seated that offers a remarkable mix of luxury, performance, technical features, seating flexibility and fuel economy that should cause some headaches at Toyota, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

It has been designed to meet a multitude of tasks, from the weekly chores of commuting to work, shopping at the mall, trips to the big box store, hockey and soccer practice or heading out on a cross-continent adventure. With its massive flat floor cargo capacity of 117 cu.ft (with second and third row seats folded) and seating that is both comfortable and flexible, it can do the work of two or more vehicles.

The seat on the passenger's side easily slid forward and folded to make entry to the third row as accessible as I have experienced in any of these vehicles. Tall folks could ride in the third row if the second row seats are about halfway back but headroom might be a little tight. A nifty fact for those relegated to row three is that you can stretch out by putting your legs between the second row buckets. A bench seat is also available in row two.
Even with seats up, there is a far amount of storage space behind the third row, and the seats easily flop down to create a huge space. Lower row two and storage grows to 116 cubic feet. Customers with their arms full should pop for the power lift gate. GM also included a hidden storage compartment under the rug in back.

Back up front, controls come easy to hand, noise is subdued, instruments are easy to read, and there is an abundance of hard plastic. Casual riders did not notice the trim level.

A back-up camera display and audible warning system is standard as is one year of OnStar 'turn-by-turn' assistance and three months complimentary XM Satellite radio and XM routing functions. LTZ also came with several options including the DVD-based touch screen navigation system with voice recognition, overhead 8-inch LCD screen with two wireless headphone sets and a Bose premium 10-speaker audio system with 5.1 surround sound. The optional two-panel sunroof has a power, sliding front glass panel and fixed rear panel with power sunscreen.

Traverse has two comfortable bucket seats up front with four-way adjustments on the driver's side that kept the short and tall comfortable. There was plenty of leg and headroom despite the dual sunroofs. In the second row, there were two buckets that also slid back and forth to create ample space for adults on medium and long trips.

It's available in three trim levels -- LS, LT, and LTZ -- in either front- or all-wheel drive.

  • "Compared to highly styled crossovers like the Flex and CX-9, though, the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse 2LT AWD is a pretty unassuming family vehicle. Granted, there's nothing wrong with driving around in a perfectly livable but unremarkable $36,250 crossover SUV. But if you're OK with that, you'd probably be just as OK in a full-on minivan." -- Edmunds
  • "So, if you don't want the stigma of driving a remarkably sensible vehicle -- a minivan -- and you don't want the coarser manners of a body-on-frame truck-based SUV, you probably do want a vehicle like the Traverse." -- Road and Track
  • "There is a plethora of crossover SUVs to choose from today and they come in all sizes. If you regularly tote around six or seven passengers, occasionally load plywood sheets or tow up to 5,200 pounds, the Traverse should be added to your shopping list." -- MSN
  • "Overall the enhanced engine gives the Traverse added capability over its Lambda siblings, and in many ways it's superior to alternatives from other manufacturers. Its driving dynamics are very good for such a large and heavy vehicle, surprising even." -- Autoblog

New for 2009, the Traverse comes with FWD or AWD in four models starting with the base LS ($35,260), 1LT ($37,860), 2LT ($41,860) and the fully equipped LTZ ($52,595). The AWD LTZ finished in Silver Ice Metallic with Gray leather interior. Power for all models is provided by a 3.6-litre V6 with direct injection and variable valve timing, teamed with a smooth-shifting, 6-speed overdrive automatic transmission (there's a manual shift mode button on the side of the gearshift).

You won’t notice much of a difference in driving dynamics versus the other Lambdas, though. For 2009, all four vehicles add direct-injection to the 3.6-liter V-6s underhood, which adds 6 horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque for totals of 281 and 266, respectively. (Those numbers rise to 288 hp and 270 lb-ft if you opt for the dual exhaust.) Anyone claiming to notice either in a vehicle weighing 4954 pounds is more likely full of baloney than actually observing anything. The Traverse we tested was all-wheel-drive, and managed 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, quick for a vehicle this size but still 0.6 second behind the 553-pound lighter Toyota Highlander. Also sampled front-wheel-drive Traverses, and although the lighter weight might drop a tenth from the acceleration times, complimentary torque steer appears on the menu, and the Traverse’s light steering exacerbates the effects.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

The LTZ engine is rated at 288-horsepower with slightly less (281-horsepower) for the other models. Despite its commanding presence on the road, the Traverse manages to avoid the bulky look of some of its competitors. In fact, it has the most aerodynamic body in this segment, helping it return 8.8 L/100 km in highway driving. The taut, one-piece nose features the bi-level honeycomb grille of the Malibu that is now the ID of the Chevrolet family. Dual, jewel-like halogen projector-style headlights and standard fog lamps are neatly integrated into a front fascia that flows back along smooth body sides that are happily devoid of unnecessary 'styling' bulges. Stylish, 20-inch, five-spoke machined, ultra-bright aluminum alloy wheels (LTZ model) fill the slightly flared and shaved wheel wells while the sloping roof features integrated roof rails, a power moon roof and rear section skylight.

Seven-seat LTZ came with two captain's chairs in the second row and a 60/40-split, occasional third row seat for three (a three-wide second row gets the full eight-passenger capacity). The two captain's chairs can slide and fold forward with one simple motion to provide easy access to the third row or you can fold the seatbacks forward to create a full floor cargo area. Both front seats are heated and ventilated with power adjustments and lumbar tensioners. Both the front and second row consoles provide massive bi-level storage bins in addition to the numerous cubbies and cupholders elsewhere. The quality of materials and the fit and finish are excellent.

In short, the middle class Traverse (the LTZ is the top of the line), may be a good deal for those who have to haul kids and adults and all their stuff. It was nice to see GM produce such an outstanding vehicle in these very indecisive times for Detroit automakers.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LT

The exterior of the new Traverse looks quite a bit like the Buick Enclave, GM's top-of-the-line Lambda-based CUV, in that it shares a D-Pillar, lift gate and a similarly shaped front grille. From 50 feet away, the Traverse appears to be a mild-mannered mid-sized crossover, but closer inspection shows that this 5,000-pound vehicle is actually huge. In fact, at 205 inches stem to stern, the Traverse is roughly the same size as the full-size Chevy Tahoe SUV. Massive P255/65R18 tires give the Traverse the look of a traditional body-on-frame SUV, but a uni-body structure and efficient V6 engine help this eight-seater achieve best-in-class efficiency.

Another area in which Chevy engineers improved the Traverse versus it's in-family competition was by infusing it with more engaging driving characteristics. The chassis feels tighter than the Enclave's and exhibits less body roll than its more expensive sibling.

GM's 3.6L V6 engine gets a thorough makeover under the hood of the Traverse, with a higher compression ratio of 11.3:1 and direct injection for improved power and economy. The end result is a horsepower bump from 275 in the Enclave to 288 in the Traverse. The most noticeable difference comes in torque, though, as the Traverse packs 270 lb-ft, which is 19 lb-ft more than the Enclave. Where the Enclave felt heavy at takeoff, the Traverse is more sprightly and you can feel the difference in the mid-range of the torque band and when passing on the freeway. The direct-inject engine also provides excellent fuel economy with EPA numbers of 17 around town and 24 on the highway. We managed 20.4 mpg in mixed driving, which is impressive considering the Traverse's sheer heft.

The cabin is quite elegant for a car in the under-$30,000 price range, with tasteful wood trim and quality materials. The dash and instrument panel have few seams or levels, so cleaning should be a breeze. GM really has gone to school on creating fine interiors and the company’s workmanship and design now rate among the best in the world.

Controls for audio system and heat/air conditioning are simple and straightforward, the way most drivers like them, with big, round knobs that can be operated with gloves on.

The rear bench has room for three, and the split seatbacks flip forward so there’s room for objects that are too long to fit in the 15-cublic foot trunk.

The 2010 Chevy Camaro LS and LT will be motivated by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that will produce 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the Camaro SS will get a 6.2-liter V8 engine that will make 422 horsepower and 408 pound-feet of torque. All engines will be combined with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 2010 Camaro LS and LT are estimated to achieve 26 mpg on the highway, while the Camaro SS will deliver 23 mpg on the highway. 

While the current Mustang and Challenger borrow heavily from their 1960s predecessors, the Camaro does not. It’s a modern interpretation of the muscle car with a few basic styling cues from the 1969 model.

This new Camaro also has some styling cues from the current Corvette, as well as from some high-performance aircraft, the company said. That gives the new Camaro the feel of a ‘Vette with a back seat. The car may seats up to four people.

Features include a four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes (with four-piston Brembo calipers on the SS models), Bluetooth phone connectivity, GM’s electronic stability control, OnStar and XM satellite radio.

LS and LT, all Aveo models come with many safety and comfort features, including driver and passenger airbags, MP3 capable CD/radio with auxiliary inputs, and windscreen wipers with variable intermittent wipe. The higher equipment level of the LS includes additional features such as tinted glass and front power windows as standard. Options for the Aveo LS include 15-inch aluminum wheels, on-board computer, remote keyless entry and an interior beige trim.

Focus its marketing and distribution on Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and GMC:

An overdue move that leaves probably one more brand than GM needs, but it has spent a lot of money creating a new dealer channel for Buick, GMC and Pontiac and doesn't want to see it wasted. Pontiac also becomes a "specialty brand." Some would say that with only five car models on sale, one of them shared with Toyota, it already is.
2009 Chevrolet Traverse arrives with four models: Traverse LT

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