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March 4, 2009 • Autos, Reviews

2009 Chevy Traverse – the $40k vibrator

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

Traverse, the name chosen for General Motor’s latest new people mover, refers to the verb and not the city in upstate Michigan where many of these vehicles will undoubtedly be headed each summer.

The 2009 Traverse is Chevy’s entry into the takeover segment known as CUVs or “crossovers,” and judging by the tester I drove, the automaker is pretty serious about doing business there. I think the only concern should be that it may cannibalize some of its own customers away from the heavier, less fuel-efficient fullsize sport ute segment (who have been disappearing on their own anyway).

Traverse is the vehicle that fits the bill for those folks who have occasion to carry more than five passengers but will never go offroad or tow a heavy load. The new Chevrolet Traverse – along with siblings Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook – are all based on a unibody structure, whereas traditional SUVs feature big, sturdy ladder frames underneath. The tradeoff in gaining the ride comfort and interior volume is at the expense of tow capacity and overall brute strength of the vehicle itself.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

Traverse comes with a V-6 under the hood, a breakaway from the more traditional V-8 power familiar in the Tahoe, and rolls in front- or all-wheel-drive. A smooth six-speed automatic gearbox transfers the LTZ’s 3.6-liter’s 288 horsepower to the wheels.

Despite a very complete list of standard mechanical and creature comfort features included on base LS and midrange LT models, Chevy made sure our LTZ tester came with just about every add-on they offer as well. After being impressed by the fact that Stabilitrak stability control, ABS braking, traction control, side impact and head curtain side airbags and ultrasonic rear park assist were on the standard equipment list, Chevy upped the ante by giving us touch screen navigation with rearview camera, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, rear seat DVD entertainment system and heated and cooled front captains chairs.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

While the Traverse does not quite have the power and acceleration of the Tahoe, it does a fine job of getting everyone from point A to point B, and occupants are not scrambling for the exits once arriving at your destination. Leather and luxury is everywhere in the LTZ Traverse and those sliding second-row seats are a huge bonus.

In mixed driving situations we did not find any dislikes behind the wheel save for one. There was an odd clicking noise when turning the steering wheel from lock to lock during low-speed maneuvering. Other than that, the new Chevy feels very well connected to the road and is easily manageable in parking lots.

Pricing for the new Chevy Traverse in FWD begins at $28,990 MSRP with our loaded tester in LTZ trim coming in at just over 41 grand. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway and the vehicle is built in the re-tooled former Saturn plants in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Traverse is the final addition to the GM team of fullsize CUVs and shares style cues with the recently re-introduced Chevy Malibu, a design theme that is finally turning heads in the right direction.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ

One little surprise worth noting: I got quite a “buzz” when turning on the cooling feature in my driver’s seat. For a moment I thought I had sat down on a hornet’s nest or something. Once I got used to the “vibration” I just wrote it off as an added “massage” benefit.

Seriously.

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